Ethics (or lack thereof) in Ethiopian Adoptions

Earlier this year I attended an adoption-centered Christian women’s retreat. One evening at dinner, some of my table-mates asked me my thoughts about ethics in Ethiopian adoptions. I gave a guarded response, knowing that many of these women were in process to adopt. Ultimately, I shared that I personally would not adopt a young, healthy child from Ethiopia at this time because of my concerns over the pervasive corruption in the system. I also shared some guidelines that I felt could help insure an ethical adoption if others decided to proceed with an Ethiopian adoption.

Anna and her mother, Sept 2008

Later, the organizer of the event approached a friend who was with me at the dinner table. She asked if we had discussed ethics or other “negative” things about adoption. My friend responded that the topic had come up, but did not share anything further about our discussion. The organizer, the leader of this organization- a respected Christian blogger- replied that she prefer we not discuss the topic because “it might bring down the women who are waiting on a referral.”
Friends, this was just days after discovering some unethical practices in our adoption process. Believe me, if anyone  felt “down” because of the (un)ethical situation in Ethiopian adoptions, it was me.

Unfortunately, this seems to be a prevalent attitude among Christians. There seems to be a thought that we shouldn’t discuss the ethics of adoption because that’s not placing our trust in God. That those who discuss adoption and warn against certain practices are “naysayers” at best or “working against God to prevent His will of adoption” or worse. The mindset seems to be that the ends justifies the means. That even if (and yes, people still pretend this is an “if” situation) unethical practices are occurring, it’s worth it because in the end, kids have families and hear about Jesus.

Our Family, July 2012

And friends, that Is. Not. Okay.
These attitudes not only are opposite of the Biblical truth that we should hold ourselves to a higher standard in our choices and behavior, but they make Christians and the worthy cause of caring for orphans and the needy a laughingstock to non-believers. The casual way we use “God called us to adopt” as a dismissal to our duty to ethical adoption practices just as easily dismisses us  in our attempt to live according to The Way.

What it comes down to, for me, is this: God may call you to adoption, but He will NEVER call you to an unethical adoption.

And ignorance is not an excuse.

 

 

This guest post was written by Grace, an adoptive and biological mother of four, striving to live in The Way through practical love for others. She blogs about marriage, motherhood, and moving to the Deep South at Gracelings.org.


Tags assigned to this article:
ethiopian adoptioninternational adoption

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  1. Michelle @Special Mom Space 20 August, 2012, 08:41

    Of course, I’m not familiar with adoption but I agree. Anything unethical does not justify the outcome. God can have people hear about Jesus right where they are. They don’t need to be brought to America under devious circumstances for it to happen. Good for you for sticking to your beliefs and being wise with your responses.

    Reply this comment
  2. Courtney 20 August, 2012, 11:29

    It’s so sad sometimes what we delude ourselves into believing, especially as Christians. I 100% agree with you…if it is unethical, it is not of God. I also believe that God will take what satan meant for evil, and make it good (Genesis 50:20). I don’t think that means that we have a hall pass to do whatever we want.

    Reply this comment
  3. Ashley 20 August, 2012, 16:27

    So what is your advice for someone who wants to adopt from a third world country? We have been saving in preparation, but have been scared to start the process, for exactly this reason, and we don’t know anyone who has been through it before. Do you know of a reputable agency? How do we ensure these things don’t happen to us or our future child?

    Reply this comment
    • Scooping it up 20 August, 2012, 17:41

      Ashley, any agency that promises infants, very young, in less than a year should be a no go. Babies conjured up that fast that are ultra young and totally healthy is a VERY BIG RED FLAG. For example, in Ethiopia, West Sands Adoption and Adoption Avenues are still promising infants in 6 months, and are giving out referrals this fast, when most reputable agencies aren’t even accepting applications right now. I believe, as I do about our first agency, Dove (though they too are not accepting applications at this time), some people working at the orphanages they work with have their hands in some shady business to find that many babies that fast for clients. Currently, for all decent agencies there is a 2 year + wait for healthy infants. This is problematic. Any agency that discourages or forbids you doing an independent search for birth family before accepting a referral or before a court procedure takes place, is a RED FLAG. Any agency that discourages, forbids or frankly, even insists on facilitating contact with birth family I would not touch. Every country is different though. Uganda is a pot of terrible ethics. It is possible to do it well there, but many agencies are not. DRC – is a HOT mess. There is essentially no government there. Zero. This means, very very quickly this country will turn into a mess of kids being sold to whatever agency has the most money, because bribing and payoffs will happen. How can one make sure an adoption is ethical in a country where there is no oversight? You can’t. Places I would adopt, special needs China. Thailand, ages 4+ or special needs Ethiopia through certain agencies, AAI, WACAP or Wide Horizons and CHFS, while none are squeaky clean, and have their share of families who will say crap went down, I do believe they work for placing kids who need families. I would say the agency that promises the shortest wait time is the one I’d run from, every time, no matter what. Just my two cents.

      Reply this comment
      • a client 21 August, 2012, 06:25

        CHFS needs to come off the list of “okay” agencies. “Not squeaky clean” does not even come close to covering it!! They are one of the worst offenders.

        Reply this comment
        • Jolene 21 August, 2012, 12:30

          Please expound?

          Reply this comment
        • Scooping it up 21 August, 2012, 12:34

          OK, done! They are off! I only included them because they work through Ahope and I like to see those kiddos adopted. But I trust families big time Client. Thanks for sharing.

          Reply this comment
          • another client 21 August, 2012, 15:12

            I’m going to respectfully disagree with a client on CHSFS. We found them to be very professional and our adoption, at least, was very transparent. Having worked with another agency, Hope Adoptions, who was one of the bottom feeders of ET adoptions, there really was no comparison. They are definitely NOT one of the worst offenders… they are an average offender. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. I’m not saying that others didn’t have a bad experience with CHSFS, I just think that their huge numbers means there are more families with bad stories. and the fact that scoopingitup is correct that there are transgressions in pretty much all of the agencies just leaves them in the not so bad category. Which is a sad statement, really.

      • torn 27 March, 2013, 05:41

        We adopted through AAI and had major trouble. Our child’s birth mother was alive and well and visiting her at the orphanage. She has 3 siblings and an aunt when we were told she had no siblings or other family. While in country they left us stuck in their guest house with no support or answers to our questions about the changes in our child’s history. We now communicate with the birth family but feel sick about the lies surrounding her adoption and she is special needs and older.

        Reply this comment
    • graceling 20 August, 2012, 18:50

      Ashley, this is a really valid concern. I think Scooping it Up has a lot of great info in her reply. Considering older, waiting children, and special needs children in certain programs is a good start. If you are convinced that you want to adopt from a third world country, you will need to be prepared to do a lot of research when you are ready to move forward. Things change rapidly in the world of international adoption: programs change and close, reputations are built and fall, and hot spots crop up and are extinguished; it’s impossible to say what country or program will work best for you when you are ready to move forward. The links in my post have a lot of resources, and I try to maintain a list of good resources for ethical adoptions here: http://www.gracelings.org/p/adoption-resources.html.

      One thing I would suggest you consider is that in an undeveloped or developing nation, the government often lacks the resources to preserve and reunite families, let alone oversee international adoptions. This leaves the door wide open in terms of corruption and unethical practices. In addition, the huge wealth disparity between the US and un/underdeveloped nations creates, in a word, greed… and you probably don’t want greedy people involved in your adoption. I’m not saying you can’t have an ethical adoption under these circumstances, but you will need to work very hard and probably take a lot of extra steps to ensure the ethics.

      When you chose to move forward, seek out those who have actively sought to ensure the ethics of their adoption in the program you are considering, and really weigh their words.

      Reply this comment
      • Ami 13 February, 2013, 09:02

        Not a third world country, but another country to consider is Colombia. Not saying it’s perfect, but agencies that facilitate adoptions through ICBF (children’s welfare department), your chances of an ethical adoption are going to be a zillion times higher than some of the current hot spots in Africa. There is infrastructure. It is a sound program. The problem, for most people, is the wait time (5+ years for a child under 36 months). However, there is still a large gap for special needs adoptions (children 8+, sibling groups of 3+, and other significant physical needs as well).

        Reply this comment
    • graceling 20 August, 2012, 19:08

      Ashley, this is a really valid concern. I think Scooping It Up had a lot of great suggestions in her reply. Older, waiting children, and those with special needs are a great place to start. The world of international adoption changes rapidly: programs open and close, reputations are built and fall, hot spots burn bright and then burn out. It would be impossible to say right now what programs would be appropriate and which agencies will be the ethical agencies at the time that you move forward. Be prepared to do a lot of research. There are several links in my post above, and I try to maintain a list of resources for ethical adoptions here: http://www.gracelings.org/p/adoption-resources.html (If you are reading and have a suggestion for adding to this list, let me know!)

      One thing to consider in adopting from a developing nation is that the governments of these nations generally do not have the resources to assist families in staying together or reuniting, let alone oversee international adoption programs. DRC is a great example of this— the country is a “failed state”- how can they possibly be ensuring adoptions are ethical? Further, when you are adopting from a poorer nation, the relative wealth of the US does become a factor at play, and throws the doors wide open for corruption. When people want a piece of the almighty American dollar, the best interest of the child becomes second (or third, or fourth) on the priority list. Greed and adoption are never a good combination.

      Please also be aware that unethical practices can happen at many places in the process. Your US agency may be highly ethical, but that does not mean the organizations and individuals on the ground in the sending nation- from families to governments- are ethical. It’s a big, complex issue. My best advice would be to learn as much as you can about adoption/IA before you commit to anything, then proceed with extreme caution. When you decide on a program, seek out those who have fought for and done the hard work of an ethical adoption, and ask them for information and advice.

      Reply this comment
  4. Captain [email protected] 21 August, 2012, 00:38

    the fact that they hushed up discussion of adoption ethics for fear of offending … a sad state indeed. I truly believe that a lot of people proceed with unethical agencies because they just don’t know, but a big reason they just don’t know is because open honest discussions like these are shut down. Sad!

    Reply this comment
  5. Sharon 21 August, 2012, 06:19

    Well said. Lots of horrible things have been done “in the name of Christ”. Look back in history. Just because someone says that God called them to do something, doesn’t mean that He did. I think some of us western Christians (including myself here) have a lack of discernment.

    Reply this comment
  6. Dani 21 August, 2012, 06:28

    Excellent post Grace. Good for you for having the nerve to post it. I’m pretty sure I know which retreat you were at… also pretty sure they wouldn’t let me attend. Not that I’d want to!

    Reply this comment
  7. de 21 August, 2012, 08:24

    There is no evidence of unethical behavior cited in this blog post. Ethiopia is accredited, so it would be very difficult for anyone there to do an unethical adoption. This whole thing seems really judgemental without basis in fact.

    Reply this comment
    • graceling 21 August, 2012, 09:26

      Thanks for your comment. If you follow the links in the post, you will find many instances of unethical processes in Ethiopian adoption, including, but not limited to, the events that led to the revocation of the license of BFAS in Ethiopia. A simple Google search of CWA Flay Away Home will also reveal more unethical practices. The evidence is significant. Of course, you may not believe that recruiting children for adoption, coercing first families, lying to PAPs, etc is unethical. I don’t know how you define ethical.

      However, one thing is certain. Ethiopia is NOT a Hague signatory, and therefore, I’m not sure what you mean when you claim they are accredited?? It’s extremely easy to falsify records in a developing nation that is lacking infrastructure and computerized records. It’s extremely easy for individuals to- knowingly or not- engage in unethical practices.

      Reply this comment
    • Missy 21 August, 2012, 12:17

      De, I don’t mean to be patronizing, but your comment “Ethiopia is accredited, so it would be very difficult for anyone there to do an unethical adoption” literally made me laugh out loud.

      It is true that with the longer wait times and higher scrutiny that it may be slightly MORE difficult to do an unethical adoption. And I’m sure it is more difficult in Ethiopia than in DRC or Uganda, two nations I would steer clear from now.

      But difficult to do an unethical adoption with thousands of American dollars in a third world country? Oh, de. I was once as naive as you. Then I learned things about my own ‘good’ agency that made me literally nauseous.

      It is mandatory that we adoptive parents learn about and oppose corruption in the system. If we are Christians, it is even more pertinent.

      Reply this comment
      • Scooping it up 21 August, 2012, 12:47

        De – click on the links. Ethiopia does not have Hague accreditation, if that is what you mean, and even if they did, the problems speak for themselves. That is so sad that you believe this. It is VERY easy for corruption. I personally know five people with fraud in their adoption story/paperwork and counting blog and FB friends, at least 25. Considering I have about 80 FB friends that are adoption-related, that is a upsettingly high number, don’t you think? If you want to know what fraud is, it is things like “this child’s parents are dead” being on the paperwork, and the parents being found. Lots and lots of lies. By lots of people. Also, I would say 1 out of fifteen agencies who “do adoptions” in Ethiopia I wish could be cut off completely from being able to work there. For little reasons like telling families “you don’t care about your kid, maybe they are just fine in that orphanage!” when the family asks why their fees are being increased and not being accountable about what the fees are doing. Payoffs are real. Even to NGOs. There are more obvious big things like working with orphanages that have WAY too many healthy baby referrals for them without questioning how or why or where the babies are coming from. This is happening every day. And that is called corruption.

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    • Paula 21 August, 2012, 13:47

      Well, I have three kids adopted from Ethiopia so I think we can agree I have been around the block a few times with regards to the adoption process. And while it is certainly true that not EVERY adoption is unethical, there is sure enough of it to make your statement that it is difficult for anyone to do anything unethical downright laughable. Have you spent much time in the third world? It is NOT difficult. It is done. I love Jesus, I love adoption, I love to care for widows and orphans… but God doesn’t want me to be a blind ignoramus when He has shown me the truth. Scooping It Up gave very good advice to those who are still interested in adopting in Ethiopia. You can still give a home and family to a child who needs one; but it probably isn’t going to be healthy bouncing baby. Older and special needs children still legitimately need homes all over the world.

      Reply this comment
  8. Beef 21 August, 2012, 10:22

    There are plenty of reputable organizations out there who you can adopt from Ethiopia through without any funny trouble. AGCI, IAN, and others like them are serious in what they do and do double checks on all children referred to their orphanages. Blanketing a country shady is a tad unreasonable and you should really show both sides before scaring away people who want to adopt because kids there do need a home in which they are loved. You have to do your homework before adopting through ANY country. It’s not just Ethiopia.

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    • a reader 14 February, 2013, 00:17

      Our children were adopted through IAN, and they lied about their paperwork. So, they may have done their research, but they withheld it from us. The are fraught with issues. IAN is NOT a reputable agency. Frankly, I’ve heard bad things about ACGI, too. Two poor examples I think.

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  9. De 21 August, 2012, 11:13

    This article aeems pertinent to the discussion.
    http://ethicsalarms.com/2010/12/08/unicefs-unethical-war-against-international-adoption/

    Would you rather have children loved, fed, and educated, or have them languish in under staffed,, under funded orphanages because someone, somewhere, might have cut a corner or profitted by giving them forever families?

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 21 August, 2012, 11:43

      The entire system is broken, not just the US. That is the point. A lot of the children in the orphanages should not be there. The in-country authorities are not being transparent with birth families. US agencies have so much corruption it ruins the children’s chances of finding out their true birth stories. US ideals are not enough and it will never be okay to just allow it to happen because of self-righteous people who believe the kids are in a better place then they would be otherwise. My international adult adoptee friends who have experienced the same kind of corruption Ethiopia is currently being scrutinized for will tell you education, food, and love is wonderful, but not enough. It is about justice for human beings, not “saving children.” There are lasting effects on the children being adopted like this. So while I agree adoptions should not be shut down, we certainly should not turn a blind eye and not try to remedy a pretty significant and obvious problem. As parents and connecting to the country we are adopting from- we owe it to our kids.

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    • missy @ it's almost naptime 21 August, 2012, 12:30

      De, it is vital that we are actually providing forever families TO ORPHANS.

      This is the point. If you believe that we are called to care for the fatherless, and I believe we are, then isn’t it vital to ensure that a child actually IS fatherless?

      Let’s pretend that I have more education and money than you do. Is it therefore okay for me to take your children to a foreign country to raise them?

      I have NO interest in adopting a child who already has a family. That doesn’t contribute to the orphan crisis a whit. In fact, it works AGAINST it.

      I want to find the one who truly needs a home. Many of these agencies did and still do tell parents that their children are just being sent to boarding school until they are 18. My agency social worker was just telling me last night that she facilitates a group for teens whose parents were told just that. They are conflicted and angry. I don’t want my daughter to end up in one of those groups one day, do you?

      As believers, we are called to be above reproach in all that we do, to abstain from even the appearance of evil. This applies most especially to something as important and theological as adoption.

      Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending it isn’t happening is not the way to deal with the issues of ethics. We are to put on the armor of God and confront and fight sin every time we see it.

      There is corruption in Ethiopian adoption. There is child trafficking. There is lying and greed. For us to ignore these facts and pretend that the means justifies the ends makes us no better than those who are abusing the children of Ethiopia and is far below the standards of a Christ follower.

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    • graceling 21 August, 2012, 12:34

      de-
      First, please re-read this post. I never suggested people should not adopt. I said I was not personally comfortable with an Ethiopian adoption of a young healthy child at this point in time. I said that if others were interested in an adoption, they should pursue an ethical adoption, and that things like ethics need to be discussed, not swept under the rug of “God’s Will.” I would never want a child to languish in an orphanage. But, that doesn’t mean that I want people to pursue adoption at all cost, including the cost of ethical and moral actions.

      Secondly, you seem to believe that the only options available are languish in an orphanage or be adopted abroad. That is not the case. Family preservation and reunification efforts need to be explored; how many families could be reunited if 30 families donated thier approximate $30k of adoption fees to family preservation efforts?. Domestic adoption is now an option in Ethiopia. And I would love to see more organizations that work to make domestic foster care a reality in Ethiopia (I know of one that is just starting this work, uniting widowed women with orphans to meet the needs of all). What if 30 families donated their approximately $30k of adoption money to promote domestic foster care? Do you have any idea how many Ethiopian families could be economically empowered to care for children who are currently in orphanages?

      Believe me, I have struggled long and hard over the situation of children in institutions in EThiopia. I wrote about it several times:
      http://www.gracelings.org/2011/03/orphan-story.html
      http://www.gracelings.org/2011/03/what-is-orphan-is-there-orphan-crisis.html

      Every child deserves a loving, permanent family. It should be their family of origin whenever possible. And it should be a family that is *ethically* able to bring that child into care when the first family is not an option.

      Finally, I want you to consider something. I assume you have children. What if something happened to you (and your spouse/partner). Say you were in a terrible accident and hospitalized for months or years. When you are finally cognizant enough to engage, you discover that your children were placed into the care of the state. The social worker decided that you were taking too long to recover and that your children deserved a permanent, loving family that could clothe, feed, and educate them, rather than languishing in a group home. She decided to cut a few corners and forged a few documents, allowing your children to become available for adoption. They were not only adopted right away, but were adopted abroad, by a wealthy individual in a powerful nation. There is no way you can get them back. You will never see them again.

      Surely, you are not suggesting that this is okay? That this is what you would want? That your children would be okay with this?

      If it’s not okay for your children, why should it be okay for Ethiopia’s children? If it’s not okay for you, why should it be okay for Ethiopian mothers? Does a loving, wealthy home make up for the fact that they were stolen from you?

      These types of things have happened. In Ethiopia. In Guatamala. In China. How can we not advocate for an adoption process that prevents these grevious crimes?

      Please, go talk to a first mother who has had this happen to her. Talk to children who were adopted at an age that they can remember the unethical practices that landed them in the US. Talk to an adoptive mother who is dealing with the emotional tsunami of grief and anger and guilt of knowing that the adoption of her children was unethical.

      Then tell me that it’s okay for people to cut corners and make a profit placing defenseless children into international adoptions as long as those children are loved, fed, and educated in their new home.

      Reply this comment
    • Ami 13 February, 2013, 09:06

      I would rather, at the of the day, be able to put my head on my pillow and KNOW THAT I KNOW that our adoption was ethical.

      I would rather, at the end of my parenting stint, be able to look my children in the eye and KNOW THAT I KNOW that they needed a family.

      I would rather, for the cause of Christ, be completely above reproach.

      That’s what I would rather.

      Reply this comment
  10. graceling 21 August, 2012, 11:26

    Beef, I agree, you have to do your homework before adopting. And during, and after your adoption. That’s how ensuring an ethical adoption works: it’s an ongoing process that starts with choosing to adopt a child who needs a family, continues through choosing an agency, verifying your referral facts, being willingnto walk away if things are shady, and never really ends because ethical adoptions need advocates. Any adoption from any country-including the US- can be unethical, and we should all be doing everything we can to fight that . I spoke about Ethiopia because that is the country about which I know the most and in which I have personal experience, asI have been involved in ET adoptions since 2007 and brought my daughter home in 2008. I’m not trying to scare anyone away from adoption, but rather call everyone- especially Christians- to hold themselves to a higher standard and only participate in ethical adoption practices.

    And for the record, I know of ethical breeches at AGCI, IAN, and nearly every agency operating in ET. I also know of breeches in ethics that were outside of the control of the agency, including at the federal court and US embassy level. I do believe ethical adoptions are possible, but they require a lot of work. Work that every Christian should be discussing and engaging in if they chose to adopt. There’s no excuse NOT to ensure the ethics of your adoption, especially for Christians.

    Reply this comment
  11. mommaofmany 21 August, 2012, 13:18

    If you can say “for the record , I know of breeches at AGCI, IAN, and nearly every agency operating in ET” then why can’t you state what they are. You expect everyone to go off your opinion. What expertise do you have in this area? I agree that each adoptive parent has to look closely at the agency they choose and about what referral they take but I think you are casting lots of judgment here with little proof. There are unethical practices everywhere, even in the US. It doesn’t make it alright but it doesn’t make it alright for you to cast out the whole program. There are REAL needs in ET. Some of those needs also come at a young age. Why would all healthy infant adoptions be unethical? If a child is abandoned or relinquished early on are they not worthy of a family?

    Reply this comment
    • graceling 21 August, 2012, 14:16

      As I said, I *personally* am not comfortable with adopting a young healthy child from Ethiopia right now. I never said that NO ONE should do so, or that every young healthy infant adoption is unethical. In fact, I love this recent post about a family who went to great lengths to ensure their healthy infant adoptions were ethical: http://roepnack.blogspot.com/2012/08/beauty-from-ashes.html What I said was that everyone should do the hard work to make sure their adoption is ethical.

      I never said the entire program was no good. A friend of mine is currently bringing home 2 older (waiting) girls from Ethiopia, and I could not be more thrilled for her, because I know she did everything possible to ensure the ethics of her case.

      I can refer you to many sites recounting horror stories of ethics in Ethiopia. Many APs, however, are unable or unwilling to name the agency they used because of fear of legal repercussions. A quick search of any agency on the Yahoo EthiopiaAAR Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EthiopiaAAR/join) will reveal a lot. Or check out this blog where several families have anonymously posted their stories: http://etadoption.blogspot.com/ Or make friends with people who have independently investigated their adoptions, and familiarize yourself with their stories… the breeches in ethics occurring not only within agencies, but also beyond them.

      There are many stories out there. They aren’t mine to tell. What is mine is the knowledge that one day I will stand before God and be required to account for my actions. On that day, I don’t want to say “well, sure, I knew things were wrong in Ethiopian adoptions, but adoption is biblical, so I thought it was okay to keep quiet… as long as the kids got homes, right?”

      Reply this comment
      • mommaofmany 21 August, 2012, 16:36

        So what you are saying is there are some stories out there about some of these top of the line agencies. You have not witnessed them first hand but you have read about them on a group board, known for bashing, and most of them are by anonymous people. Am I correct? I agree there is unethical practices but vague overviews with lack of of concrete stories like this post don’t help the problem. It only causes more drama and people to get turned off of international adoptions. There are corrupt adoptions happening in the US. Maybe not as many but there ar reports on agencies here just like you say there are in ET. So while we all wait for the system to become 100% ethical what happens to those children who are 100% in need of a loving home? They age in an orphanage while waiting fotr the fix to come. Why not try to genuinely educate people, not bash retreat organizers? Also why not pay some due respect to some agencies working hard to not only complete ethical adoptions but are working in country on family reunification and aid?

        Reply this comment
        • Scooping it up 21 August, 2012, 17:37

          no no, I am not on any big list servs. And the cases I speak of are people that I know and have spoken with in person or online as individuals. This piece is not a bash. Bashing retreat organizers would be “Those people are full of crap, cannot believe they do not support adoption ethics.” That is bashing and judging. This piece did not do that. It is shedding light on attitudes. Very different in my mind. And important. Agencies don’t need defenders. We as adoptive parents are not on their payroll. They are on ours. They owe Ethiopians, and our children complete honesty and transparency at all times. Some of them do humanitarian work. Great. None of those acts undo the hurt cause to families and children. and NO one here is suggesting that adoptions should stop , though I don’t blame families dealing with the aftermath of corruption for feeling that way, it is their right. If someone feelings “one child stolen is too many” we can NOT judge that opinion. We are not in those shoes. We should respect the families that are brave enough to speak out.

          Reply this comment
          • Mommaofmany 21 August, 2012, 19:55

            I disagree with you on this. The author makes it clear what retreat she was at. She makes a point to say who responded her. Also you say that agencies work for us. If they work for ap then they are doing exactly what you say your against, finding children for people wanting to adopt. If they are a true Christian agency they work for the betterment of children and families in the country. Adoption should be the final fold of that. The JCICS have even sang the high praises of a few agencies working in ET. Also does the really believe that there are many God fearing Christians whose response to unethical adoption is oh well, God called us to it? I am fine with agreeing to disagree but I feel this post starting even with the title, is a only an attempt for attention on behalf of the blogger.

        • graceling 21 August, 2012, 20:34

          mommaofmany- I am not saying what you are suggesting— that these are “made up” instances. I am saying that I have several friends who are personally known to me, or friends of friends who have proof of unethical practices. I will not publicly share their stories without their consent. However, here are places where you can hear some of the public stories. I believe for every public story, there are countless private stories.

          I am not bashing a retreat organizer. I am recounting my experience. Because I have first-hand knowledge of unethical adoption practices. And because I was told that talking about MY STORY was against the will of God. Not only in person at the conference, but in follow up communication with this individual.

          What I want is not for people to focus on my experience at the conference, but rather to focus on the idea that we, as Christians, should be talking about ethics. We should be doing everything in our power to ensure adoptions are ethical. Will they ever be 100%? No, because we live in a sinful world. But we can do our part. We can live in a way that places us above reproach. And educating people about the need to do so- in Ethiopian adoptions- in ANY adoption- is important and necessary.

          I am not naming any agencies as “good” or not. All I am saying is that I can probably provide evidence of unethical practices in adoption for any agency, because we live in a sinful world and this is the way things work. Ethics in adoption is a much bigger issue than any agency. An agency can be completely ethical and still process a case with ethical concerns. There are many players in IA before and after the agency level.

          I respect the work of organizations that are working for family preservation/reunification, domestic adoption, and domestic foster in Ethiopia. It is my hope that no child will be left in an orphanage. But I believe that emptying orphanages and providing children with families CAN and SHOULD happen in an ethical way, and oftentimes, that will require a solution other than IA. If IA is required, it should be at the highest ethical standard, especially if the PAP is a Christian. Period.

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    • missy @ it's almost naptime 21 August, 2012, 14:18

      I haven’t seen anyone advocating here for abolishing adoption in Ethiopia. I know there are those who are completely and utterly anti-adoption, but not here.

      What we’re concerned about is the fact that I’ve personally been waiting for over two years for a referral for Ethiopia, but someone I know just got referred two healthy teeny tiny infants within a month of signing on with an agency.

      Do you not smell a rat? Because the stench is knocking me out over here.

      There are indeed infants who are truly orphans. And I do believe that MOST of the agencies are dotting every i and crossing every t now to make sure the children they are placing are true orphans – that is the benefit of the extended wait. But there are still a handful of agencies that are operating in completely disgusting manners. The agency that the people I just mentioned used is definitely on the Smelly List, and the couple was told this, but continued on in their adoption.

      This troubles me. Does this trouble you?

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    • Scooping it up 21 August, 2012, 14:20

      Mama of Many: I keep getting frustrated with the families and for the families I know who had fraud in their cases having to keep quiet because they have to protect their kids and their privacy and/or working on legal complains in quiet because the ENTIRE adoption community gangs up against them. One place to see anonymous stories of fraud adoptions is here: http://etadoption.blogspot.com/ it is hard to be a voice because it throws our kids under the bus publicly. I know families with lies and fraud in their adoption from these agencies: IAG, IAN, CHFS, Dove, YWAM, Adoption Avenues, even her royal majesty Wide Horizons. Even the “good ones” have cases of fraud. Some of these families have lost friends and their adoption support communities because they spoke up. It’s not an easy road to walk. It should be noted, it is NOT always the agency’s fault per se, birth families and cops and traffickers lie, but it’s a well known fact that agencies who facilitate birth family meetings sometimes instruct their translators to not answer all questions or slide over certain answers.

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    • graceling 21 August, 2012, 20:51

      I purposely did not name the confrence or individual with whom I spoke. This is not about that person or that event. It is about a mindset that Christians do not need to be diligent in fighting for an ethical adoption because we can trust in “God’s Will” to cover any possiblity of corruption.

      Agencies are a business, first and foremost. They bring money in through fees paid by adoptive parents. Have you looked at the pay check of those working for these agencies? My husband is a physician and executive, and the head of the agency I used earns several times what my husband makes. Is that the standard income for people who are supposedly working “for the children”? Is that what the director of children’s ministries or your pastor makes at your church? Is that what a social worker in US foster care makes? Really?

      Yes, as an organization that exists through the funding of adoption agencies, JCICS will often toot the horn of adoption agencies. It’s like a big sorority will toot the horn of the sisters. The words of JCICS mean little to me.
      http://www.gracelings.org/2011/03/who-is-jcics.html

      And having talked to many God-fearing PAPs about adoption and ethics, YES, I believe that there are many would, in fact, overlook the ethical concerns of their adoption because they were called to adopt. I have personally spoken with 2 people, advising them of ethical concerns in their process, and received a response of “well, God called us to adopt, so I’m sure he will take care of the rest.” Easy to say when your child isn’t home. Hard to deal with when you are holding a child who grieves for the family from which they were stolen.

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  12. Angie 21 August, 2012, 13:42

    Along with shaking my head at some commenters’ ignorance of international adoption process, I have to giggle at the thought of people adopting children to spread Christ to them. Guess those people dont know that Christianity was well established in Ethiopia by the first century ad and also has strong Old Testament roots. Ethiopians have known Christ as long as European! And being ‘accredited’ (whatever that means) does not ensure an ethical adoption. As others have said, the wonderful Christian agencies have no say in the process until the Ethiopian government says a child is available for adoption. ALOT can happen before an agency gets involved. Many people who are ignorant of the process are giving innacurate info.

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    • Jolene 21 August, 2012, 14:11

      Angie, being in a “Christian country” does not make its natives Christian any more than being in a garage makes one a car.

      America is supposedly a Christian country, yet the majority of people I know don’t know Christ from a hole in the wall. Same goes for every country in Europe.

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      • Angie 21 August, 2012, 18:30

        My point was, dont assume the child.you are adopting has never heard of Jesus. Many are very religious. My son only knew Christian songs when coming home. His father was praising Jesus every 5 minutes when I met him. Most adoptive parents are not bringing Jesus into these childrens live.. There are aMuslim families so.that would be the case. But, the Christians know.Jesus. I just dont like Westerners coming in to the country like they know better. That is not always the case.

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  13. Jan 21 August, 2012, 14:01

    I have a friend who decided to adopt from ET. She chose a “christain” agency. (if I had known prior to her choosing I would have warned her against this particular agency). She kept getting little red flags that bothered her. The agency would throw bible verses out and tell her to pray, etc. they sent her a video of her child being relinquished. It was sickening to say the least. She had it translated by an independent party. The translator said it was obvious the woman did not understand. When my friend once again questioned the agency, she was accused of horrible things and threatened with law suites, etc. sadly, my friend had to terminate the contract because she could not continue in good conscience. Now, that story is bad enough. It does not end there.

    This agency got in trouble (partially because my friend contacted the ET embassy). Apparently so did other families. Many of the agency cases were handed off to another “reputable” agency. NOT. The new agency commented the particular case my friend was involved in was suspicious. Then proceeded to place the suspicious child with another couple. Never tried to reunite the family. And still my friends PASTOR went with the first agency, even knowing the whole story. He and his wife adopted a child even knowing what went down, stating they felt God led them there. really?

    So yes it happens. Yes, Christians and non Christians are causing the problems by not being diligent. My only caution besides what has already been stated is be careful about birth family contact prior to completing the adoption. The US embassy frowns on anything that might seem like you have bribed or offered compensation down the road to the birth family.

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  14. Jan 21 August, 2012, 16:38

    She did contact PEAR. While losing money on that adoption and being very disillusioned, she did go to EE and adopt 2 special needs children.

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  15. jan 21 August, 2012, 16:57

    In addition to PEAR and ET Embassy, she went to the Joint council for international children’s services????(I believe that is the official name). They did nothing. Come to find out, the owners of both agencies in question were both on the board. hmmmm….

    Just saying.

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  16. Jan 21 August, 2012, 17:59

    I would say to anyone who thinks people are passing on hearsay, to ask around. It does not take much digging to find someone with a firsthand story. If you REALLY want to know, you can find it. I would also assert that if you are not asking and you haven’t researched in depth, maybe you are propagating opinion and not facts when you say it is just disgruntled clients. Geez, there have been plenty of news stories that document issues.

    The story I related earlier is 1 of 2 I know first hand. Because I know these personally, I am more inclined to listen to other stories. Once you see a pattern, you can pretty much see which ones are disgruntled and which have more to them.

    I’ve adopted from 2 different countries using 2 different agencies. I’ve been around adoption since 2004. I probably didn’t believe as much the first time around. I question a lot more now than I did the first time.

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  17. veggiemom 21 August, 2012, 18:16

    As the mother of a child who never should have been adopted and who came to me with a completely falsified history (adopted through one of the “good” agencies) I want to say thanks for posting this. It’s hard to continuously see the stories of corruption discounted but they are there. I once sat with a friend and over 5 minutes we came up with 15-20 cases of corruption we knew of from friends we knew, not stories we read about on a forum but personal friends who had corruption in their adoptions. These adoptions came from all agencies, “good” and “bad”. Burying one’s head in the sand or rationalizing the problems away doesn’t mean they actually go away.

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  18. Rory 21 August, 2012, 22:19

    I just wanted to say to Graceling that I remember you from the conference. I sat at your table and had a good conversation with you, hearing about your family and adoption. I know the point of your post wasn’t about the conference, but about your experience which led you to discuss an attitude that you feel is prevalent in the adoption community, specifically the Christian adoption community. I’ll get back to the conference piece in a minute, but I want to first acknowledge that yes, there are families out there who would rather turn their head the other way when faced with ethical questions. I met one myself. But they weren’t at the conference, and this particular family didn’t even profess Christ. So yes, it’s out there, and I don’t think the Christian community is exempt. In general everyone I talked to at the conference and have talked to since (outside of the conference) is more than willing to discuss the troubles of the adoption world. They welcome it! I think there is a time and place for that, and a blog can lend itself well to those conversations. But I want to also make clear that there are far more moms than you may realize who DO care about those things, who desperately try to make sure every ethical question is asked before/during/after said adoption and even go so far as to hire 3rd parties in which to procure evidence that shows the validity or non-validity of their process. I would also like you to know that many find out their adoption was in fact needed and ethically done. There would have been no other option for the child–infant and older. I don’t think you’re on a witch hunt here. I think you care. I think you’ve been hurt and you’ve experienced the dark side of the adoption world and I can’t even imagine the grief that comes with that. I know you want to spare others from that same heartache. That is a noble thing. I don’t want to minimize that in the least. I do know that it exists, but I want you to be encouraged with is that there are lots and lots of moms and dads who know this and try to avoid it with every fiber of their being, who terminate contracts and walk away from thousands of dollars in order to be ethical, who ask the hard questions in forums and yahoo groups, who challenge agencies, who even address those things face to face at conferences like you mentioned. While I can appreciate you calling attention to wrong attitudes in the adoption community I think you do a disservice to your reader when you omit right attitudes and responses from the full picture. Maybe it’s because you haven’t seen any firsthand, which is why I wanted to write here. I wanted you to know that they are out there and they are refreshing.

    So, back to the conference for just a second because we were both there at it, and I know this just happened to be the place that you had your bad experience. I wasn’t there for that exchange and again, I know that’s not what this post is about. Yet, I think it only fair to address it because whether you meant to or not, folks within the adoption world are going to be able to easily piece together which conference you are talking about. And because of your blog influence your words will carry weight, and that weight will carry impact. While you can’t be responsible for the actions of the people that read your words I think you need to be cautious to examine what implications you are leaving the reader with about that conference and about the leader there. I’ll end that thought there.

    I want to take the conversation you had there from a slightly different angle for a second. Please don’t take this as attacking you, just merely taking a step back to reassess the situation. Do you think, by chance, that maybe possibly there was some misunderstanding there? I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about ethics–on the contrary!, but maybe your words were just taken the wrong way or were conveyed in a way that wasn’t the overall thrust and spirit of the conference? You know what I mean? I’m not doggin’ on you at all for answering a question you were asked at a dinner table, nor do I want you to feel like you can’t share when obviously you were experiencing first hand some of the hardest things an adoptive mama has to face. I’m just saying that maybe, just maybe, the organizer of the event wasn’t sending a message that a discussion on ethics was wrong but that maybe she was trying to figure out a way to convey to you (probably because someone had mentioned it to her out of concern) that the focus of the time there was to support one another during the wait and learn from the special speakers and session that were there. Perhaps the receivers of your response didn’t feel like it was couched in a way that made it conversational, but rather off-putting and distancing. Discussions on ethics can become very heated, very quickly. Everyone has an experience whether it be good or bad. Everyone has a favorite agency that can do no wrong to which the next person equally hates the same agency and can list tens of reasons why. It can become very dis-unifying very quickly if not handled well. A blog is a little bit more of a controlled environment for that discussion, as is a conference specifically set up to debate those things or a special session devoted to talking about it. But when the overall aim of a conference is just to be a relaxing retreat for moms to get refreshed I think it is understandable that some moms might not know what to do with all of that. All I can take is your word for it, that you just casually and gently answered them. What I don’t know 100% is if that’s really how it went down. Again, not trying to attack, just being honest that it may not have come across the way you thought it did and I think it’s fair to step back and pause on that for a second. Obviously I wasn’t there for that part, but I’m just wondering IF they were truly trying to “hush” discussions on ethics (an implication the reader takes away from your post) then you wouldn’t have been the only one talked to. They would be talking to individuals right and left and telling them to zip the lip because there were many, many deep conversations going on there. But I didn’t hear that from anywhere else, and I personally was in a LOT of heavy conversations from ethics to whether or not to go public with an adopted child’s HIV status or keep it confidential and more. Some of those things were even discussed in public sessions and yet, to my knowledge no one was asked to stop talking. There were a lot of hard topics talked about there. to be sure.

    I know I’m babbling here, but I think you get the gist. I know that there’s a lot at stake in adoption and I am thankful that more light is shed on these things, even when I disagree on certain points. Because the truth is J., you’ve got a great point that ALL Christians should desire to do Christ’s will with Christ’s integrity. We can’t compromise in the call…and that’s why I felt free to comment the way I did because I think at the very heart of things we agree. I hope you’ll be back at that same conference next year and we can sit at the same table and talk again. These kids are worth it. They deserve it. And as fellow mama in this journey I want you to know that you are loved. Your story matters; just be sensitive to the fact that just as there are tales of horror out there, there are also great stories of redemption and truth.
    Love,
    Rory

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    • Scooping it up 22 August, 2012, 05:55

      Your worries about the implications of the reader and the conference are interesting: the writer of this post did not say what conference she attended, so unless you were there and know the writer personally, it is a perfectly respectful and important post that speaks ill of zero people. Your sensitivity may not be relevant for many of the readers, like me for example. I don’t know who on earth she is talking about so for me, it is a great case study. And here is the exact reason people with fraud, corruption feel they must shut up: because well meaning comments like this always end with “sure, there is bad stuff, but what about the goooood!?” The fact is, we ALL. KNOW. THE. GOOD. This comment thread shows very much that people keep on insisting that the bad, the lies, the corruption are just a tiny thing, and shouldn’t be allowed to overtake the good. That somehow discussing the things that need to end stop (both attitudes, words, actions on behalf of agencies and PAPs), takes away from someone’s “good” adoption. They have nothing to do with each other. The bad cases should be discussed just as much as the good. Period. Even if only 10% of adoptions contain elements of lies, fraud, I still think families with fraud and those that support them should make up and contribute to at least double that in all conversations about adoption. And I think it’s OK if we don’t try to undermine every instance of discussing lapses in ethics with “what about the good?!” I think the fact is, sometimes, the corruption does reach a point where it is clear that the harm is at an intolerable level. Clearly most in the ET adoption community aren’t there yet, but some are, and I think we should respect that because the people that feel like adoptions should stop there, that the “truthy redemption” stories do not undo or make up for the sad, broken, fraud stories feel that way for a reason. In Guatemala, and Vietnam the ethical problems reached this point. Surely in Uganda at some point and yes, maybe Ethiopia. When it reaches that point then will we say “what about the gooood?” I think it is right and proper if things continue with poor ethical behavior in any country every single one of us stand up and say “what about the corruption?” For every “good” story we should stand up and say “what about the children taken from their parents?” because guess what: standing up for THOSE families is still the work of God. Standing up for those Ethiopian moms and dads and grandmas and should-never-have-been-adopted children is the work of God too.

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    • April 22 August, 2012, 08:40

      Grace, as one of the organizers of the retreat that I believe (well, I KNOW) you are referring to I just felt the need to explain things from our point of view. First and foremost, please know that we appreciate you and your passion for bringing awareness to the prevalence of unethical adoptions around the world. In fact, our goals at [conference name edited out by moderator] are to connect women to other women walking similar journeys, to provide an atmosphere of rest and reflection that leads them to a deeper connection with God, AND to provide information that empowers and educates. In fact, we believe that a breakout session on this very topic of unethical adoptions would be a wonderful addition at future retreats. As we pray for topics and the leaders to lead them, this topic is certainly on our list!
      I want to explain to you how we were made aware of your comments at the retreat that also later led to the conversation with the lead organizer, my sister- [name edited out by moderator];). We saw two women crying and approached them. It was then that we were told that they had each showed their referrals pictures to a woman with “long red-hair, nursing a baby” who in turn had told them in so many words that they should, “give their referrals back because most adoptions of healthy babies in Ethiopia are unethical”. [name edited out by moderator] and other leaders gathered to pray over this information. [name edited out by moderator] felt she needed to speak with you but was, honestly, very nervous about it and what happened next was a God-story. She wanted to go to her hotel room to pray and gather thoughts about how to best approach the situation and on the way she prayed “Lord, I do not like conflict. PLEASE handle this for me! If you really want me to talk to this mom about this, you are going to need to bring her to me!”. As she stepped into the hotel room, imagine her surprise to see YOU out of 450 women sitting on a bed in HER HOTEL ROOM! To my knowledge, you two never spoke at a table nor did she approach you, nor during the conversation in the hotel room did either of you admit what you both knew (that is was you who the women were referring to). [name edited out by moderator] began talking in general about what the women had said had happened and how upset they were. The discussion wasn’t that we should not be talking about “unethical adoptions” but rather the delivery of the information. At the time, we were grateful for the opportunity to share how your words, while not meaning to “hurt” anyone- indeed had and that while your passion for educating others on the ethics of adoption is a commendable one, that there may be a better, more intentional and thoughtful way to do so. Sometimes, it isn’t the information that is offensive, in fact- this information SHOULD be out there- in this situation is was about the timing, the delivery and that you left two women with referral pictures in tears without knowing their personal stories. I know that [name edited out by moderator] heart was to protect the women who had come for rest and encouragement. While every mom does need to be aware of the ethics in adoption, it didn’t appear to be the best place nor the time for you to tell them that their adoptions are “probably unethical”. You couldn’t possibly know their personal situation nor the situation of the child.
      Grace, please know that we admire your passion for advocating for children in Ethiopia and around the world. We believe God wants HIs truth shouted from the mountain top and we should be the voice for the voiceless. We also believe we should do this- especially when dealing with fellow believers- in a respectful, gentle, and intentional way. In fact. I believe you will be heard by MORE and will have a greater opportunity of being heard when you do.
      In Him,
      April

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      • Jess B 22 August, 2012, 11:45

        Nice to see both sides of what happened on here. Maybe in your commendable passion for ethical adoptions you crossed a line by assuming that just because these 2 women had healthy babies referred to them, theirs was not ethical. I think that is the problem, you assume you know the histories of children based solely on their age and heath status. That is so wrong and quite honestly arrogant.

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        • graceling 22 August, 2012, 17:56

          Maybe you should re-read my account of the events. I never made any assumptions about any individual. I related cases which I knew or read about, and never EVER said anything to the women there indicating that I believed their referrals were unethical. EVER.

          I never assume to know the history of any child., adopted or not.

          Wrong? Arrogant? Really?

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      • graceling 22 August, 2012, 11:51

        April, I have a very limited naptime window here to respond to you, so please excuse my bluntness.

        1. I am more than willing to have Jamie take your comment (and this comment) down if you so desire after you have read this. It was never my intention to have you, [name edited out by moderator], or [conference name edited out by moderator] be the focus of this post. I simply shared my story as one of many anecdotes that I have regarding this topic. I would hate to see people who have no idea what retreat I am referring to (and I specifically never mentioned it on my blog because I knew that one day I might share this story) come away with a negative opinion of [conference name edited out by moderator].

        2. That sentence should read “Later, the organizer of the event approached me and a friend who HAD BEEN WITH ME at the dinner table.” I don’t have the ability to edit this post or else I would change it. It was poor grammar on my part, and I never intended to imply that I was approached while at the dinner table.

        3. You were not at the dinner table. You were not in the hotel room. Everything you are relating about both of those conversations is second hand. In fact, [name edited out by moderator] wasn’t at that dinner table, so her information is second hand as well.

        4. Neither you, [name edited out by moderator], nor anyone else at the conference asked me if I had, “in so many words”, told people that they should give back their referrals. I did not say that. Ever. Nor imply it. While it’s possible that in my discomfort with the spotlight thrust upon me at that table I may have spoken a word or two that was more harsh than I intended, isn’t it ALSO possible that women who were sitting there, emotional in the wait (as we all get during that time), could possibly have misunderstood or over-exaggerated or extrapolated my response? I spoke only about MY PERSONAL OPINION on whether *I* would start an infant adoption in Ethiopia (which is no, based on the evidence of corruption, etc). In fact, “M” was sitting directly on my right during our entire conversation. She was, at that time, awaiting the referral of a healthy infant girl, 0-6 mo. M is a dear friend “in real life.” Do you think I would say such a thing… hurt my dear friend in such a way… with her sitting right next to me at the table? Perhaps I seem heartless and cruel to you, but I’m not.

        5. As it turns out, I said about 3 sentences to [name edited out by moderator] the entire retreat. I am pretty introverted and shy in general, moreso when stressed, and being around her, having her approach me without EVER asking for my side of the story, was really stressful, hurtful, agonizing really. If she would have asked, I would have honestly told her when we were in that hotel room, but she never asked, she just believed one side of the story, never asking to hear what I had to say for myself.

        6. You are saying that timing and delivery got mixed up in my message (which is a lot to assume, since you were not there) and that my story and my opinions would be more palatable if I had considered the context or learned these women’s personal stories. Tell me, did you or [name edited out by moderator] consider timing and delivery when she approached me and told me not to discuss “negative” things? Because if you had, if you had taken the time to hear my story, I would like to believe that you would not belittle my firsthand experience or the many, many tears that I cried that weekend over my experience with unethical adoption practices. Why is it that I was supposed to consider these women’s stories and not recount my personal experiences (when it was asked of me to do so), and yet I don’t deserve the same courtesy from you or [name edited out by moderator]?

        Finally, you believe that the meeting in that hotel room was Divine intervention. I share this opinion. That conversation, the hurt that came from it, was a refining moment for me. It made me realize that there is nothing that the Enemy loves more than to have the Truth burried, hidden, maligned, and marginalized. I came away know that if I was going to speak up about unethical adoption practices, I needed to be prepared for insults, jeers, and any other manner of persecution.

        As it turns out, that’s exactly what has happened.

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        • April 22 August, 2012, 14:10

          Grace, I am truly sorry for the pain you have experienced because of what happened in your adoption. I am also sorry to hear that you left the retreat feeling angered or hurt by any one of us based on this situation. Your comments here were brought to our attention by many who read your blog and knew you were talking about us, specifically. Yes, my “recollection” of events was hearsay but understand that at the time this was a VERY IMPORTANT and BIG DEAL to us so I remember every word that was relayed to me by the people in that room and also reached out to those in the room for confirmation before I responded. Our board and leaders met immediately upon hearing the news from the women who were so upset. We want every women there to feel loved and encouraged and had no reason to NOT believe the women at the table and when [name edited out by moderator] spoke with the group of women (that included you) in her hotel room about it in “general terms” neither of you acknowledged it was you. It is all terribly unfortunate; however, please understand that if the point of your guest entry was to focus a light on those who do not think that unethical adoptions are an important, MUST BE talked about topic (using us as an organization and my sister as an example), I did feel the need to defend. We work tireless hours and plan year-round to serve adoption moms. We are human and therefore, imperfect. We do the best we can. And we do not IN ANY WAY desire to “quiet” or “persecute” you for defending the orphan. As I said before, I admire your passion and desire to bring justice to & protect those who perhaps should NOT be adopted… Believe it or not, Grace we agree with you on many things. However, we do have a right to defend ourselves (as you do, too). We are guilty of not speaking this through with you in detail at the time but I know you also understand how I (we) could be offended by the implication that we are a part of the group you were writing about here. I do wish you had chosen to defend yourself at the time and we could have heard both sides. It saddens me to hear how much you were hurting at the retreat and then felt attacked for sharing. I’m surprised to hear that you receive so much persecution for sharing your views (even in the case of what happened at [conference name edited out by moderator]- I would think it was the WAY it was shared and the words chosen rather than the overall message). I am surprised to hear that there is a single Christian on the planet who would approve of coercing or falsifying details or documents to bring about an adoption. That makes no sense to me but lots of things don’t make any sense to me;). I encourage you to never give up in your cause to fight for justice and truth for the fatherless- I apologize for upsetting you. I felt compelled to defend our organization on behalf of my fellow organizers, volunteers and the many women who desire to come and be a part of it. I don’t “blog” and perhaps I should have sent you a message personally. I did want the readers who DID know who you were talking about to hear our side. I may be wrong for that. I know you did not intend your post to be about us. I know you can imagine the feeling of being grouped with those who you were writing about- who deny that unethical practices exist or worse, believe that the “ends justifies the means”. That is NOT WHO WE ARE. And please forgive me if I am wrong to want to say it.
          Blessings,
          April

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          • Graceling 22 August, 2012, 18:28

            April, I really don’t think we are going to come to any consensus in what was and was not said, how things should have happened, and how I should have felt about it, here in the comment section. If you feel the need to continue this conversation privately, you can contact me via email or my blog.

            I don’t want to continue to detract from the central message of my post, that talking about and pursuing ethics needs to be central in our adoption, in general and as Christians especially.

          • can't believe this derailment 23 August, 2012, 14:55

            Maybe instead of working year round to serve adoption moms we should ALL be more concerned with the children?

          • speaking up 23 August, 2012, 20:26

            Now that the folks of this conference outted themselves and decided to NOT keep things anonymous, I can safely say I would have been blown away and stood up and applauded had anyone associated with that day and this organization said “Wow, we didn’t know you came away from that experience feeling this way. On behalf of anyone tied to the conference, we apologize and want you to know that we never want another attender to feel like their story is hushed again. Even if that wasn’t our intent, we can be more careful to make sure ethics is approached squarely. We support all families, especially those walking the rocky road of corruption and fraud.” — instead, they bashed the author, told her she took it all wrong, and didn’t support. [conference name]: I am not impressed. Just apologize. Support an adoptive mom: which is what you say you mean to do. Instead, you retroactively ask the moderator to remove your conference name from the comments because you changed your mind about wanting to be tied to this. Own it, and make it better, I say. Make me and the other readers impressed with how you handle it, I would love to be pleasantly surprised! Instead you express surprise and doubt than ‘any Christian would dare to breach ethics in their adoption.’ I have read some harrowing first hand account tales of Christians who work very hard to “save their orphan” who has a birth family who doesn’t want them adopted or understand what that even means. Guess what Christians: that is not an orphan. That is a kid who’s family is saying ‘no.’ I have found some of the worst breach of ethics come from within our own Christian community. Not hearsay, families describing their own actions asking for other Christians to pray they pull it off, accomplish this miracle of rescue and redemption! Of a child that has a family and might be much better served to stay in their own culture and family and country. As a Christian, it makes me very very sad. When I see those cases, those stories, I pray for the birth families. And the person who commented above says she would be shocked. I am not shocked anymore. It isn’t even that rare if one spends any time listening to families and not dismissing the accounts.

        • missy @ it's almost naptime 23 August, 2012, 21:41

          I am M. (Sounds like a movie)

          I was there for this entire conversation, and also the follow up, evidently, and I was (still am) also waiting for a referral.

          I say ‘evidently’ because I remember none of it and honestly read this entire post and didn’t even realize that I was the friend that Grace was referring to.

          I know, you probably think I am mentally deficient, well, sometimes I wonder too.

          But I think I don’t remember it 1) because I’ve been pregnant four times and my brain is a fraction of what it used to be and 2) because the incident didn’t happen the way that the moms who were evidently upset and thusly tattled on Grace perceived it to happen. I was there. I heard it all (evidently). It didn’t register any emotion with me. Didn’t even stick in my memory. And just so you know, I’m an emotional, easily riled up type of girl. I’d have had to have a chat with Grace if she had actually said what she was accused of saying.

          In reality, actually, Grace was asked a question about ethics, answered reluctantly yet truthfully. Some others took her answer very personally, while easily riled up “M” happily snacked on her tacos. The others took the perceived discussion to the [conference name] organizers who got upset at possible but not actual conversation and panicked a little (and had the incident truly occurred the way it was reported, there would be due reason to breathe deep), and they handled it the best they knew how.

          Grace and “M” were unaware for the most part that there was a kerfuffle because – get this – there wasn’t a kerfuffle. So Grace thought she was being told to hush for being truthful yet unoffensive, when she was actually told to hush up for telling people that there referrals were unethical when and they should give them back. Which she never said. I know. I was there. Evidently.

          And I believe that had the organizers been there to hear the conversation, they probably would have felt the same way that I did.

          That’s what we call a misunderstanding. Which happens a lot in this world of women.

          All the pieces fell together for all of us just recently. Grace and forgiveness has been extended by all involved.

          So, the conference, it turns out, is a red herring in the Christians-sticking-their-heads-in-the-sand discussion, in my opinion.

          But the ostrich part of the discussion needs to continue. I stand by my former statement that inasmuch as Christ followers have picked up the banner for orphan care, we also need to pick up the banner for ETHICAL orphan care. We are called to no less.

          Reply this comment
          • graceling 24 August, 2012, 07:49

            Thanks for sharing your take, Missy. After speaking with the organizer, I completely agree that it was a misunderstanding and miscommunication. The conference truly is NOT the point of this post AT ALL.

  19. graceling 22 August, 2012, 00:04

    Rory, thank you for your comment. I want you to know that I appreciate that you have taken the time to reply so extensively.

    I also want you to know that I DO believe there are many PAPs who are making ethical choices and sacrificing themselves, their money, their dreams, to ensure that they are above reproach. I have the immense honor of knowing “Amy” personally (friends since high school!) and cannot tell you how humbled I was that she allowed me to share her story: http://www.gracelings.org/2012/07/guest-post-walking-away-from-ugandan.html I also linked to a family who did investigate and found that their adoption was ethical. I applaud them and hope every PAP reads this story: http://roepnack.blogspot.com/2012/08/beauty-from-ashes.html

    Unfortunately, I have also had several negative experiences, not just the one I have shared here. Last year, when I refused to sign the JCSIS petition (http://www.gracelings.org/2011/03/why-i-am-non-signer.html) (and this was well before we realized our adoption had been touched with unethical practices), I lost many facebook friends and one dear “real life” friend. That was just the beginning. Since then, on several occasions, I have had Christians tell me (and others who speak up for ethical adoptions) that I was doing the work of Satan. That I was going to burn in hell. That I didn’t deserve my child (this is true, I do not deserve such a gift) and that I did deserve every ounce of attachment issues that we faced (sorry, neither my child nor i deserve that.)

    I would say that most PAPs are somewhere in the middle— they aren’t burying their head in the sand, but they aren’t willing to put their money where their mouth is and walk away from an unethical adoption. But that’s just based on the PAPs I have spoken with since 2007.

    Ultimately, just because there are many wonderful, redemptive stories of adoption and ethical choices, it doesn’t negate the negative, unethical choices that are made. Even if a family has a 90% ethical adoption process, it doesn’t make that 10% of unethical adoption practices okay. And that’s the point I am trying to make, and what this entire post is about: we should all be working to have those ethical stories. Every time. No excuses.

    I’m glad you had a positive experience at the conference. However, while I shared an experience I had there, that is not the point of this post. The point isn’t even whether people were talking about ethics at the retreat in general! The point is that people need to be talking about (and engaging in) ethical adoption practices. Period.

    Reply this comment
  20. observer 22 August, 2012, 06:06

    “What I don’t know 100% is if that’s really how it went down. Again, not trying to attack, just being honest that it may not have come across the way you thought it did and I think it’s fair to step back and pause on that for a second.” You are essentially calling the writer a liar. Even if you think you are doing it respectfully. You weren’t there, why do you automatically assume someone is misreading an interaction because you don’t want it to be true or don’t want it to mean what it means? Its much more comfortable for you and those who want to love this conference, whatever it is, I have no idea. — I have no idea what you are talking about “we can’t compromise in the call” — isn’t that EXACTLY what this post is about?

    Reply this comment
  21. peacelikeariver 22 August, 2012, 06:35

    The argument that if these people were really trying to hush up ethics discussions there wouldn’t have been talks about disclosing HIV+ status or not doesn’t really seem valid. One of things things is talking about a hard situation for families who have already adopted or are in process. Whether or not children should be adopted in the first place – the crux of adoption ethics discussions- is a totally different ball of wax. They are not related and just because the HIV discussion was taking place, doesn’t mean folks don’t want to hear about the possibility that ethics violations under the banner of Christ are a huge , pervasive problem in adoption – in especially African countries. BTW- I am Christian. This isn’t a Christian or adoption bashing comment. This is just a confused comment responding to rory’s.

    Reply this comment
  22. [name edited out by moderator] 22 August, 2012, 16:01

    Please remove any comments with my name in them. This wasn’t how things happened–and I’m just so sorry this has escalated without any care or love for others. Thank you!

    Reply this comment
    • Jenny 22 August, 2012, 17:48

      I dont understand how the conference or even what the authors own personal take on what happened need to be part of the discussion??? If you want to write on ethics, DO IT, but leave the other stuff out. It was EASY for anyone to go back in your archives and see what conference you were at.

      Reply this comment
      • graceling 22 August, 2012, 19:10

        Jenny, was that comment directed at me? Because if it was, could you please direct me to where in my archives I wrote about the conference? Thanks.

        Reply this comment
      • Ami 13 February, 2013, 09:35

        In my POV (just a PAP and a reader), the conference was an important part of the discussion. It shows how Christians consistently turn a blind eye when it comes to adoption ethics.

        Reply this comment
    • SMH 22 August, 2012, 18:48

      It would appear you sister unfortunately outed your name =(
      It was great to read both sides of what was an anonymous story until this afternoon. Ethics are a tender delicate subject. Sorry, you feel victimized. I believe the love and care for others should be first and foremost for the countless children who will grow up in a lie.

      Reply this comment
  23. Angie 22 August, 2012, 19:35

    Wow, this blog entry and comments has really saddened me. Like it or not, many many people in the adoption world knew immediately what retreat you were referring to. It is a shame that such a great ministry would be mentioned as an example of Christians who turn a blind eye to ethics. This could not be further from the truth. The point being to connect women who need and desire support, to encourage those who need it, and to help those who are interested in adoption to learn about it from those who have walked before them! I, for one, am extremely thankful for that time and look forward to it.

    That being said. I am not naive to the hard truth in adoption. With four adopted children in our family we have seen it first hand also, as well as the love and redemptive power of Jesus Christ that is available to all parties involved – including the birth families. I think it is obviously important to not make unwise choices in adoption agencies and do your research, as well as be a voice for those who don’t have one in unethical situations. However, there are many many adoptions that take place domestically as well as internationally that are done with the child’s life and well being at the center. If I was researching adoption and read this post I would run far far away and I certainly would not want to get involved in the adoption community.

    Reply this comment
  24. Enat3 23 August, 2012, 15:16

    I AM one of the families who experienced an unethical adoption. I AM one of the families who Scooping It Up references about how we’re having to keep quiet because of the reaction we get from the adoption community when we share our story. We were offered a sum of money from our agency to sign a gag order to never tell what happened. We refused. We will NOT be bought off. Yet, we still live in fear of what they or others in the adoption community will do and/or say to us.

    People, this is real. It may not be prolific, but it is very real. It is happening. Sticking your fingers in your ears and crying “la, la, la, la” will not make it go away. Something must be done and it’s sad that some (not the majority) of the Christian adoptive community is not supportive of addressing the realities that are currently happening.

    Reply this comment
    • Kaykee 30 August, 2013, 17:43

      Name names. Name agencies. Name facilitators. This business of posting anonymous heebie-jeebies about corruption in adoption from Ethiopia serves no one.

      Reply this comment
  25. Enat3 23 August, 2012, 20:10

    I feel the need to add a bit more…

    My speaking up about this pervasive problem and being one more voice of ‘proof’ does NOT mean your adoption was unethical. It doesn’t take away from your positive experience. But make no mistake, your positive adoption/agency experience doesn’t take away my case. 100 good, ethical adoptions do not make my terrible process okay.

    This is the problem: At some point, a few turned this post into being about some conference instead of supporting the author in saying “Yes, we hear you. These things are happening and true and you should have felt more supported that day. The stories are real and we hope they stop too.” and jumping all over her and every other family who dares to speak up… Well, it is a sad state of affairs and I can’t help but take it personally. And it is even worse for children and families of Ethiopia.

    Reply this comment
  26. graceling 24 August, 2012, 07:30

    Enat3- thank you for your comments. Thank you for refusing the gag money. Thank you for being brave. I wish that speaking out about negative and unethical adoption practices was more accepted.

    Reply this comment
  27. Tiffany 24 August, 2012, 10:02

    As an adoptive mom, I appreciated this post very much. ANY words that shed light on the corruption that does exist in adoption is welcome. It is definitely not out there enough.

    I adopted domestically and we did not meet our daughter’s first parents through an agency but only used an agency to complete the process for us. And I still feel that there were ethical violations. I had to work very hard on behalf of my daughter’s first parents to ensure their rights, and even now, I wish I could go back and change some things.

    But what bothered me most was reading the comments from the organizer of the conference. I shook my head in sadness that she had completely missed the point. There is absolutely no wrong time to talk about ethics in adoption. ANYONE who is planning to adopt needs to hear about it, and it should not matter what stage you are at in your adoption. What if this opportunity was the only time she was going to hear about it? And the conference shut the conversation down AND made the blog author feel bad for talking about the not-so-pretty side of adoption.

    Although I am a Christian, I do not identify with the Christian movement towards adoption as a means of helping orphans according to God’s word. It gave me an icky feeling when I first heard about it years ago, and it still does. God’s plan is always for families to stay together. Always. Only when there are no other options should a child be placed for adoption. As responsible adults and Christians, if you want to be a parent, you don’t get to shy away from the tough subjects because it upsets you. For the sake of the children you want to parent, you must confront it head on and deal with it.

    I haven’t the slightest clue what conference this was, but after the actions of the conference organizer in this comment thread, I have serious doubts as to their motives and ethics. Everything she said raised a red flag for me that her greatest concern is the PAPs, the appearance of the conference, and hushing up dissenters and treating adoption like it’s rainbows and butterflies because we don’t want to upset the sensitive PAPs. I would love to know where in all this, the children come in? Because if your concern is homes for children, not children for PAPs, then you would never try to quiet someone speaking out about the possible problems that can occur.

    Reply this comment
    • Ami 13 February, 2013, 09:26

      I agree completely with this sentiment — “There is absolutely no wrong time to talk about ethics in adoption.”

      I would rather have a hard, heart-wrenching conversation after referral than have that same conversation after the adoption has been completed.

      People, we have to wake up! I can’t imagine walking away from a referral . . . devastating, yes. But how much more devastating will it be when our children go searching for their pasts and turn up corruption and lies and find a first family who loved/love them and didn’t want to relinquish. How will we answer their questions, knowing that we did not do all we could to ensure an ethical adoption? We won’t be able to plead ignorance then.

      Reply this comment
  28. Alicia A. Carlson 10 February, 2013, 15:22

    We live in a sin filled world. There are probably unethical adoptions in every country. If there are known facts about unethical adoptions in Ethiopia the facts need to be brought to the attention of the US Dept of State and other governing bodies. Do something with the facts- share with those who can influence the laws in international adoption. I DO NOT believe ALL infant adoptions in Ethiopia are unethical. I believe that missing information does not ALWAYS mean unethical practices took place. Is it ethical to make an adoption plan if you as a birth parent are unable or unwilling to parent? Or, is adoption only ethical if all birth family is deceased? Not every Ethiopian birth family is bribed, lied to, threatened, etc.

    Reply this comment
  29. Tasha 14 March, 2013, 07:18

    I will share with you a friend’s experience with Ethiopian adoption. She previously adopted a toddler girl from Ethiopia and had a good experience, so she decided to adopt again. She thought she would get siblings this time, and older children who might not be adopted by anyone.

    She brought home two supposed 10-year-olds who were also supposedly brother and sister. They were small for their age and looked similar.

    It turned out that they were in no way related, and they were in fact 14 years old. The boy had quite well-off parents who simply didn’t want him so they sold him to the orphanage. He explodes with anger quite often because of this and takes it out on others. The boy and girl had been with each other sexually. The adoptive mother had to put alarms on all the bedroom doorknobs of her other children because the boy tries to get into their rooms to molest them at night. There is nothing the adoptive family can do. The mother says the best she can hope for is that he will be arrested one day and the prison system will keep him.

    Reply this comment
  30. jamie 14 March, 2013, 07:49

    Why write this post to call them out instead of just contacting the conference lady directly? Instead of bashing them for what they did wrong, direct is always the best route.

    Reply this comment
    • Janet A. 28 December, 2013, 05:20

      I think others deserve to know where this conference stands. I was seriously considering going until I found this post. I don’t want to be part of anything that is afraid to have open, honest discussions about ethical adoptions. Not that this conference needs my business (they are always full to the brim), but I’m sure this post helped others also to decide not to attend.

      Reply this comment
  31. Stan 9 May, 2013, 17:56

    It’s amazing how adoptive parents develop an interest in and concerns regarding ethics in adoption AFTER they get their young healthy kid home??

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 9 May, 2013, 20:13

      I don’t think that is true. I think people who adopted when the Ethiopia program was relatively new trusted the system more. Now many are questioning it.

      Reply this comment
  32. Sceptic 21 August, 2013, 20:21

    “She asked if we had discussed ethics or other “negative” things about adoption.”

    Interesting that “ethics” was considered a negative thing about adoption.

    Also, isn’t the injunction to help “widows and orphans.” How does that get translated into taking the children away from their mother?

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