Welcome to our updated website!
We've created this website to help you-the public, the media, prospective adoptive parents, and other stakeholders in adoption-begin to think through the complex issues associated with international adoption.
International adoption is, by its nature, always a complicated transaction, spanning divides of:
If adoption of any kind-international or domestic-is to be ethical, it must take into account these differences and respect the dignity and human rights of all those affected: first families, adoptees, adoptive families, and associated others.
- Class and/or caste
- Religion and beliefs about the meaning of life
- Educational and vocational opportunity
- Relative power and privilege
- Political systems
- Functional differences in business and legal systems
- Corruption prevalence
- Interpersonal and social communication expectations
- Basic understandings of individual, family, society, and institution relationships and goals
Adoptions, if they are to occur, must be done lawfully, ethically, and in accord with the laws of the countries involved and in accord with basic human rights treaties and principles.
Unfortunately, international adoptions have frequently failed to live up to these standards.
There are two possible responses to these failings.
First, we can minimize and deny the failings, sweep them under the rug, and emphasize the positive messages about international adoption that are so prevalent in our society. This is the route that the adoption establishment has chosen in the last decade. As a result, abusive adoption practices have been given free rein to multiply and flourish, doing great damage to international adoption. One part of the damage is the recurrent pattern of "sending countries" with rapidly increasing numbers of adoption becoming subject to increased reports of corruption, followed by shut downs. The most obvious sign of damage has been the large decline in the number of international adoptions. Beyond these outward signs of damage, there is another layer of story, rarely told, of the victims: first families who have been deceived or whose children have been stolen; adoptees whose basic human rights have been grossly violated, adoptive families who have unwittingly become involved in crimes against innocent others and who have been lied to in regard to the most basic aspects of their adoptions.
Alternatively, we can follow the much more successful model exemplified by the airline industry, in which failings are publically admitted, and carefully and systematically analyzed with an eye to understanding what went wrong and why, the knowledge then used to make changes that will prevent similar failings in the future. This is a much nobler, more honest, and more realistic way of dealing with adoption failings.
Unfortunately many in the adoption community over many years have sent a message that to be "pro-adoption" required minimizing or ignoring abusive adoption practices, sometimes even stigmatizing those who came forward with "negative adoption stories." We are hopeful that the season of silencing and stigmatizing is over, and the task of reforming can be advanced.
For us-David and Desiree Smolin-the problem of adoption corruption and the societal, institutional, and governmental response to it-has been not only a theoretical one, but also a personal one. In 1998, we adopted a sibling group of two older girls from India-girls represented to us as orphans without family, love, or hope for the future-whom we finally confirmed years later, to have been stolen from their first family. We know firsthand the insular adoption culture that leads adoptive parents to believe anything but the truth about adoption corruption. Unfortunately, we also know firsthand the lack of governmental interest in investing, prosecuting, and even preventing future crimes involving adoption corruption. And finally, we know intimately the exquisite pain that adoption corruption causes its victims, whether first families dealing with the loss of their children, adoptees dealing with the injustice of their losses, or adoptive families trying to come to terms with their part-however naively innocent of intentional wrongdoing-in these adoption related crimes. Our experiences and those of our adoption triad have irrevocably and unashamedly transformed us into international adoption reformers.
Our goal is to provide the information and documentation necessary to reform the intercountry adoption system according to human rights norms, while also providing a larger context of understanding and solidarity for the many people-adoptive parents, adoptees, first parents, and first communities-who have been harmed by abusive practices in the intercountry adoption system and saving others-first families, their children, and prospective adoptive parents-from having to endure a similar fate.
Reform starts with an accurate appraisal of the flaws of the current system, so that is where this web site begins.
In our role as adoption reformers, we have concentrated primarily on objectively collecting, organizing, and analyzing material on the systemic problems in the intercountry adoption system that lead to abusive adoption practices.
We share some of that material here.
This site is under construction, so it certainly does not accomplish all we wish yet. We will be actively adding more content as time allows over the next few months. Please feel free to send us your comments at the link on the Contact page.
David and Desiree Smolin
January 7, 2010