A Response to International Adoption Concerns – Part 1

by Joy Casey
Executive Director
Adoption Ministry of Youth With A Mission


Joy Casey started Adoption Ministry of YWAM as a result of her many years working with YWAM’s maternity home, New Beginnings*. Ten years ago, Adoption Ministry was licensed as a child-placing agency in Washington State. The focus of the agency has always been on birthmothers/fathers and children. YWAM finds families for children, not children for families. There are no agency fees for domestic adoptions and all agency services are provided free of charge for both the relinquishing birth parent(s) and adoptive family. Joy has also been a partner in starting the first ever maternity home in Ethiopia called Living Hope. Living Hope is on the cusp of opening the first crisis pregnancy center in Ethiopia (complete with ultrasound machine) and there is a vibrant ministry to single mothers who choose life for their babies. Adoption Ministry has established four Widows and Orphans Homes in Ethiopia, three of them in very remote areas where there have never been any social services. Some of the children in these centers have been placed for adoption. Adoption Ministry 1:27 has also been developed to focus on orphan prevention and family restoration in Ethiopia.
*Over thirty years, 85% of the women living at New Beginnings single parent their children and 15% choose adoption.
 
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What I want to accomplish more than anything else in discussing adoption concerns is to give a broader view of the dynamics of adoption. If one is diametrically opposed to adoption altogether, most likely nothing I say will ring true. If the reader is a mom who has had a less-than-stellar experience adopting a child overseas, she will naturally have a view of adoption based on her personal experience. Others have been dramatically influenced by media that conveys innuendos and allegations that may have slight elements of truth but are sensationalized and do not give an evenhanded picture. I have read many reports that simply were not factual and it was quite obvious what the agenda was: to cause alarm and make people afraid of adoption. Bear with me over the next couple of days as I attempt to bring some measure of balance to a subject that has become contentious. I will take a few statements that I have read and will talk about their implications.    ~Joy Casey
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Part 1 of 5

My oh my, but there are a lot of words floating out there about adoption, and to my utter amazement many of those words are questioning the ethics of adoption in general and specifically international adoption. What really pricked my curiosity was that many of the words I have read come from great adoptive moms! That grabbed my attention and I have attempted to really listen. I have two adopted children from the United States and have worked in adoption (domestic and international) for thirty years, so I admit to having a bit of tunnel vision when it comes to adoption. It has been more than interesting to read articles by well-meaning moms espousing their opinions about adoption.
 
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My tendency would be to read their ideas, analysis and solutions and to just store them up in my heart. But many voices are being raised saying that adopting internationally is wrong at its core and an anti-adoption climate is building because of it. Is this a good thing? Some would say that yes, it is; adoptions should be stopped. Others say that adoptions need to be limited only to children who have no living parents or extended family. It has been suggested that a birthparent’s circumstances should not play into an adoption decision, which would mean that if a woman gets pregnant, she should step up to the plate and parent no matter what.
 
I would like to respond with my own perspective based on my experience with adoption both domestically and in Ethiopia. I feel it is important to comment on a burgeoning philosophy that many are promoting about adoption ethics, birth parents and extended family members that I feel could use a little more input. I realize that I am stepping into an arena that is highly charged politically and emotionally right now and that some of my experiences and observations might be different than the emerging world view of adoption.
 
Say What?
I have read alarming headlines that accuse the “international adoption trade” of being fueled by America’s greed for children; in other words, international adoption exists only to satisfy an itch in the western world. This premise would be disgusting if it were true; however, with approximately 178 million children in our world needing families and only a small percentage of those children adopted into U.S. families, it is hard for me to reconcile that statement with the facts*. I also recall some of the fantastic families that have sacrificed so much to offer a home for a child and are working incredibly hard to provide love, stability and a bright future to “one” of those millions of children, and I simply cannot take such a jaded view.
 
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As any adoptive parent will tell you, adopting internationally as well as parenting a child that has not been with you since birth is not a walk in the park. It is hard, it is expensive, and it is not for the faint of heart. It is true that there are many families in America that want to adopt either domestically or internationally and there are always more families that would welcome a child in their home than there are children available. But having worked extensively with adoptive families for decades, my experience has been that the motivation of most are altruistic and it is the big hearts that American families have that lead them to embrace the less fortunate. I count it a privilege to walk alongside such selfless and dedicated couples, and I am glad that my fellow countrymen want to embrace children here at home and abroad.
*9,319 children from other countries were adopted in 2011; or, 5 out of every 10,000 children who needed families received homes in America.
 
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You can read Part 2 here.