As you read these stories, look to learn about the problems in individual countries, but also about the "big picture"-the patterns that repeat over and over again from country to country.
Form your own hypotheses, think through where you think the problems lie and what the solutions might be, discuss your ideas with others, network, decide where you can help, and then apply your own unique talents to being a part of the solution.
Track trends and events with respect to corruption and illegality'simpact on adoption. History often repeats itself.
Read Fleasbiting, a blog that tracks adoption corruption.
Discuss with others. Right now discussions about adoption ethics are almost taboo. When conversations about adoption ethics become more common-place, improvements in adoption practice & ethics are sure to follow.
After complaining to authorities, note the authorities' response or lack of response and the effect that it has on agencies changing their practices. This is instructive for understanding enforcement or the lack thereof. All the rules in the book do no good if they are not enforced.
Where there is a lack of will for enforcement, take your concerns to the next level above the negligent enforcers or think through what reforms or actions might lead to enforcement being taken seriously.
If an agency retaliates against you for complaining about them, report their retaliation to the authorities to which you complained.
Share with prospective adoptive parents the history of corruption within a specific country so that they can make wise choices. No one should be allowed to wander unaware into a country or situation where there have been serious past allegations of or convictions for adoption corruption or fraud
If possible, try to understand approximately how much money it takes to run a comparable institution in the sending country. Roughly calculate how much money the orphanage is receiving per year (based on the number of placements times the fee/donation). Look at the facility and the care provided, compare it to others, compare it to the amount of money that's flowing in. Does it look like the money is being spent where you are told it's being spent?
Network with others and share your concerns; keep in mind that sometimes all it takes to affect positive change is the knowledge that someone is watching and cares and will hold you accountable.
"Donations" and money for "humanitarian projects" can represent sizeable amounts of money, especially after they are converted into foreign currency and understood in the context of the sending country. This money, when not used as reported can easily become the incentive for corrupt, fraudulant, and illegal adoption practices. (If you want to know how easily such donations are diverted and how no one is currently keeping track, watch the video, What Really Happened in Cambodia ) **KNOW WHERE THE MONEY GOES.** Hold agencies accountable.
If agencies claim to have a "humanitarian project," ask for an accounting of how funds are spent within that program. Ask specific questions until you understand how things work and where the money goes. If an agency has a "humanitarian feeding program" what does that mean? Does it mean that they hand out a dozen cupcakes to passersby on a deserted corner once a year or does it mean that theyhave an ongoing commitment to hand out 20 pound bags of vital protein like legumes to 100 impoverished and pre-qualified families on the first day of each month in such and such a village and they've been doing it for 10 years now? ASK FOR SPECIFIC DETAILS. Who can verify that this is so? The label "humanitarian project," should not be allowed to be a vague hiding place for the lack of accountability.
Is it legal for adoption agencies to give donations to orphanages? In some countries like India, the adoption laws SPECIFICALLY FORBID donations to orphanages from those placing children in adoption. Question agencies about practices that are clearly illegal and report them to the appropriate authorities.
Agencies have legitimate costs in doing business. Everyone understands this and no one should lose sight of that fact. However,agencies, as all businesses, must be held accountable for their handling of money. This is especially true in the international context where foreign exchange rates change large amounts of money into enormous fortunes and where the agency stands in the gap between enormous power and economic divides. Agencies MUST act responsibly.
Refuse to cooperate with illegal practices. Refuse to accept obviously bogus explanations. Where something looks and smells fishy, it often is. For example, when we are told as AP's that we must give a mandatory "voluntary" donations-come on, it's an oxymoron and yet we as AP's go along with such nonsense. When in doubt, go to the approprate NGO's or authorities and ask..does this seem a little fishy to you too.?...and push and talk and push until someone pays attention to you. We all have a responsibility to make adoption ethical by reporting those who disregard laws and regulations.
Contribute whatever you can according to your own experiences.
The best way to continue to support bad agency practice is to keep your mouth shut about the corruption, fraud, and bad adoption practices that you yourself experienced. The best way to support better agency practice is to SHARE YOUR BAD EXPERIENCES with others. Silence is the absolute best friend of corruption, fraud,and bad adoption practice.
Membership in groups like AAR is useful not just in terms of learning about agencies, but in learning about the realities of current adoption practice.
Note the lacks and loopholes in adoption law and enforcement as you see how real life adoption practice plays out in the lives of real people.
Note who the especially problematic actors are and how they freely they appear, disappear, and then reappear in one agency and then another.
Note also how ineffective the laws, enforcement, and oversight are as you watch the very, very few agencies and actors who are finally disciplined by government or voluntary bodies simply show up in another jurisdiction or another agency reincarnation to continue freely to do whatever they do.
Note also the lack of real recourse that adoptive parents have with agencies.What would make this situation better?
Now imagine this lack of laws, lack of enforcement, and lack of recourse and power multiplied a hundredfold in the case of impoverished first families dealing with corrupt sending country operatives and governments. What would make this situation better?
Educate others in the adoption community and in the general community about what these documents say about human rights and adoption, including the fact that they state a hierarchy of care for children.
Lobby for laws and enforcement that takes these human rights documents seriously.
Read criticisms of intercountry adoption including those that see intercountry adoption as a continuation of neocolonial practices and an outgrowth of the evils of globalism; seek to understand the racial aspects and the first world/third world power inequities of intercountry adoption. Seek to understand these arguments.
Read first mother and first family blogs, accounts, and stories.
Seek out stories that show other sides of adoption
From all of these form a more realistic understanding of adoption.
Remember this: It is always easy to recognize the injustices of another time and place; the hard thing is to recognize the injustices of your own time and place. In every time and place where injustice has been condoned/ignored/allowed to thrive by society there has been a worldview and a simplistic uni-blind-man mythology that makes injustice look just, especially for those who benefit from it. It is easy to shift blame, make problems into non-problems, injustices into non-issues, and ignore massive problems. It is harder to take a stand against the zeitgeist and be a flea or a lion biting against injustice. Reform begins with understanding the view from somewhere other than society's single approved blind man. It starts when people begin to recognize that there are other human beings involved---people as human as themselves. People who have the same emotions, the same hopes, and the same dreams--and who feel pain in the same way and for the same reasons as they themselves--when we start to care about the way the world looks from the perspective of those other equally human beings. Not just the way WE think the world looks from their perspective (in our minds), but the way it IS from their experience and perspective. When we GIVE THEM VOICE and LISTEN TO THEM.
Whenever you see adoption being portrayed in a simplistic, AP centered, uni-perspective, mythic sort of way, speak up and share a different perspective.
Don't let PAP's wander into danger with their rose-colored glasses on. Do your best to show them a more balanced, more mature view of adoption. Do your best to warn them of the problems in the country from which they intend to adopt. Warn them to avoid countries where corruption problems are rampant or those countries where problems are "coming to a head."
Commit yourself to PAP education more broadly. Be patient. Remember the goal. Be persist and be kind. Remember yourself when you were a PAP.