Do you wonder if international adoption “really” is the best option for the orphaned child?
My answer? No. It is not the best option. The best option is that they are reunified with their biological family and the family is able to care for them appropriately.
Now, I say appropriately, because our standards in the Western world of providing for a child looks very different from the standards of a culture in the developing world. In our world, if our children do not have an abundance of new, stylish clothes, plenty of new toys, Xbox and latest games, trampolines, let alone their excellence in participation in multiple sports and activities, we feel like we are falling short of our parenting role, thus not parenting appropriately.
We tend to view the world through our own experiences and beliefs which then shapes our judgement of others. When we see a child in torn clothes, outside of a brick box shaped hut with a tray of corn mash, we immediately feel sorry for that child and want to give him “a better life” and we have a lot of love to give and the financial stability to do so.
Here is the reality bomb. In that community, that brick hut is that child’s home and it is the same as all of the other children’s homes and they most likely are a part of a tribe that lives in a remote area. The homes are brick because they are more practical to protect from the weather. The child is in torn clothes, because that is his play clothes. He also has school uniforms and formal wear for church service and special events. He plays with sticks and old tires because his family, who loves him very much, are most likely local craftsman or laborers and all their wages go to food, shelter and the child’s education. Things like, Xbox 360’s, are not a priority.
In this same community there is an orphanage. It is brick, but has many brick buildings connected together. There are many children living there. The only difference between these children and the other children is that they typically only have one parent or no parents. Some parents died in war, some died from disease, some died in child birth, some are subjected to alcohol or drugs. Single fathers rarely raise their children on their own and single mothers typically have other children and not enough income to go around. These children live in the orphanage. They are Social Orphans, (one or more living parent who cannot provide for them) or True Orphans (no parents alive or have willingly relinquished their parental rights).
Most of the children in the homes I work with are Social Orphans, although there are many True Orphans. The Social Orphans tend to go home to visit family during school breaks, if the parent/family is not abusive. They love their families and they focus on their education so that they can someday change their families situation of poverty. The True Orphans, love their families too. They typically have siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents. They also focus on their education in hopes of changing the future for their family and community. The home Directors and caretakers love these children and the children consider them their family.
We have many orphaned children who have gone on to be nurses, bankers, social workers, tradesman, craftsman and more.
So when is it in the child’s best interest to be adopted internationally, taken from their culture, everything they have ever known?
Living on both sides of the fence here, personally and professionally, I believe it is in the best interest of the child to be adopted internationally, only if domestic adoption is not an option, the child has been a True Orphan for some time with no relatives coming forward, and/or there are special medical needs that need attention and are critical to the child’s survival.
If you are looking into adopting internationally and are concerned about the background and history of the child referred to you, speak openly with your agency about your concerns. If you do not have an agency selected and would like to talk about this issue, feel free to contact me.
Best wishes to you and yours,
Co Founder Orphans Lifeline International, TheAdoptionHub.org