A confession, a discussion, all clear as mud

So, there was a really good discussion on the Scooping it Up Facebook page the other day. And it's been lingering in my brain. My initial post was typed out in a fit of frustration. But a few days later, I admit, I still own the feeling. I wrote:

"Forgive my rant. Please. I am begging you. Do not hate me forever: I do not understand how people can still, after everything we know, feel OK about receiving a referral for a healthy infant from Ethiopia after a one or two month wait and not realize that there is something wrong with this. Are we not all aware that this is nigh *impossible* if your agency is working ethically? I DON'T CARE WHAT THEY SAY or how nice they are. The wait for a healthy infant from Ethiopia is up to three years right now, 12 months would be considered short and raise eyebrows, I think. A promise of a healthy infant girl referral in one to six months should garner this response:

Ya know, because you just promised us this and are likely promising other families this time frame for a referral for a healthy infant girl, we know that there are people somewhere in your organization or in the orphanages you work through who are manufacturing babies quickly. This is very concerning. We wish you would cut ties with those people. They should be fired. We will not be apart of this corruption. You should be ashamed.

And walk away from that agency. THAT is the response. Not Yay I get a baby so fast everyone else has to wait we are so lucky!

If everyone stopped handing their trust and money to agencies who work with orphanages who are passing out quick referrals, things might be different in Ethiopia. We all have to get to this point eventually where we know this is true. I had to get there. I used to not know." 

Let me repeat: I used to not know.

The comments followed were great. Insightful, and encouraging. Because a few years ago, one could not bring up ethics in adoption without being instantly shot down.. The feeling for years has been shhhh! Don't throw accusations around about corruption, it might make it so the good, legitimate adoptions don't happen! Don't ruin this for everyone else!

The funny thing is, is that I feel the exact same way about corruption cases. I think Why on earth would we as an adoption community let corruption continue and ruin it for the children who legitimately need families?

One person said in response to my yelly status update, with bold added by me:

Education, education and more educating ourselves and those around us about how corruption works, what it looks like and how it feels (plays on our emotions). Having courage to walk away, to remove the corruption and not be willing participants (ignorance is willingness in my book).


There's so much to say here. Adoption should always be about families for children, not children for families. We all should start or keep reading the blogs of internationally adopted adults, and talking with them, and learning from them. Their stories--especially about learning the truth of their origins and birth family, about deceptions, about information--are vital. As adoptive parents, we need to keep opening our eyes and ears and hearts. 


Even *if* your child's parent confirms intention to relinquish and you feel you can claim an ethical adoption, it does NOT make this system ethical or the building of an "adoption solution" ethical either. One person's story of 'our facts are verified' (or even 1.000 stories) DOES NOT turn Scooping it Up's comment on its head. The fact is that no agency in this current state of adoption in Ethiopia should be filling waiting lists as Scooping it Up just described. Her outcry is totally justified.


I thought healthy child adoptions in Ethiopia by most agencies are stopped for now. holt/whfc... last check are not accepting applications. Interesting that wouldn't raise a flag. Increased time frames don't suggest or increase ethics themselves.


Working at an adoption agency for a number of years, I can tell you that corruption big (out right child buying) and little (fumbling a child's documents) happens in EVERY country that adoption exists. Also, the age of the child at referral along with wait time is a BIG red flag b/c 98% of families adopting are seeking "healthy babies as young as possible or under 6 months at time of referral" so when an agency has 100+ families all waiting for babies 6 mo. and under whom are getting referrals quickly begs for questioning. Only approx. 2% of families are seeking to adopt older children or children with disabilities; which means that those families should have a shorter wait time b/c there are thousands of older children and children with disabilities.

Many times agencies supplement the fees so that these children can have a greater chance at adoption but you don't see that with babies. Agencies are charging the top fees they can get away with for babies. That in itself is disturbing to me. Why should families pay more for one child versus others If seeking to place children who need families with families is their true mission? Corruption and ethics go hand-in-hand. A slight slip of ethical regard can lead to corruption. The adoption community should be pushing for the hard answers, not just the rehearsed junk. 

One follower expressed concern with my sweeping statement

...my concern with your statement is that it's painting with too broad a brush to assume that any 1-3 month old referral is de facto evidence of corruption. If someone brings in an abandoned 1-month old baby that matches what someone is waiting for, what is the agency supposed to do? Keep baby around for a year or two before referring it? That's obviously absurd. 

I had left to take the kids to the park but another reader stepped up to answer that specific and valid question:

It's not the age of the child that is the concern, but the wait for a young healthy infant. Certainly, there will be a few young healthy babies that are legitimately available for adoption and should be placed with a family as soon as possible. [Edit by me: we are one of those families. With an ethically referred infant who needed a family stat. He was healthy. I know these babies are out there. More on that later.] 

But it is very suspect, given the relatively FEW young healthy babes that enter the system, if an individual receives or is promised a very short wait for such a referral. Anything less than 24 mo. wait to receive a young healthy baby referral (either gender) is very suspect in my mind. There are hundreds and hundreds of families waiting for the few healthy young wee ones that legitimately enter the system each month. Therefore, the family's wait should be long while the baby's wait should be short.  


I appreciated all the comments and discussion around this topic and now I must get to my confession. I don't know why all of this is happening beyond the blanket statement of: money. But there is another problem all mixed up in this I want you to see.

While in Ethiopia this past trip I visited an orphanage where my son lived for awhile. This was one of the worst moments of my life. It was not what I'd consider a "baby factory." We African adoption folks hear tales of China, VietNam and Eastern European orphanages that have rooms and rooms, whole buildings of cribs lined up full of ignored babies and children. Those tales are true.  But this wasn't like that. It was a tiny place. At the time of our visit, the workers had only four children to look after.

But I want to say without faltering that I hated it there. The women were kind. Seriously. They did nothing wrong. But that placed sucked. I had an emotional, panicked response to this place that I still don't understand and it resulted in my ugly crying and losing control and almost berating the staff for the conditions, which are largely out of their control. These people were nice enough to let me in and in a matter of minutes I became a monster. A weeping, angry, judgmental mess.

There was a nine or ten day old infant, lying in a poopy t-shirt wrapped loosely around his bum who had the worst case of yeast (or thrush) infection in his mouth I have ever seen. His lips, tongue were coated with a thick infection. He could barely move his mouth. The bottle they offered him dripped down the sides of his face because he couldn't form a proper seal to suck with all the gunk. I've had four babies. I have never seen a yeast infection like this. I demanded medicine for him.

The doctor came yesterday and said to wait three days, then if it isn't gone, he will get medicine.

Unacceptable. That doctor is an idiot. This baby needs medicine today. I will go buy it. Tell me where to go.

He said he will come back in three days. And they shook their heads in defeat and discomfort while their random visitor's shoulders shook with spasms, crying, feeling helpless.

Hubs tried to hush me, bring me down from Crazy White Lady Ledge, but I couldn't be consoled. I sobbed as I held this infant's teeny hands and inspected his face, racking my brain for things I could do to ease his discomfort and condition. I came up with nothing. The other babies' eyes glowed with hope. They wiggled and tried to find me, reach for me. They wanted to be picked up so badly. I forced the staff to let me hold them, coo at them, promise them things I couldn't promise:

You're gonna get out of here. Someone is going to snuggle you and change your pants and kiss your owies and cry your first day of kindergarten and feed you all the time...

I wept for each of them. I wondered, why are there here?

It was an area that is very poor, lots of poverty. Not hard at all to believe a family can't afford one more mouth to feed. Not hard to believe a mom didn't survive child birth. Not hard to conjure up a dozen ways those babies ended up needing a family. 

But there is also no know way to know if a grandfather, uncle, brother, husband, sister, mother, neighbor  pressured a parent to give up a wanted child. There is no way to know if money or assistance exchanged hands for this baby. To a family barely getting by in a third world country, is it so hard to imagine someone with power, money, or even a tiny particle of authority saying

This baby is better off without you. She will go to America, go to school, have a better life than you could give her. Don't be so selfish. This will help all of us

Furthermore it is not hard to imagine that sentiment being ingrained in a local community where there exists an orphanage that directly funnels children to western adoption. 

Those babies might have be in there because they needed to be, or they might be there because of something unethical and wrong. But now, for better or worse, there they are, in a place that simply thinking about feeds my compassion and Patience-O-Meter for my son who had to be there. And they need to get out.

Reunification seems almost impossible for most children that go into the orphanage system. Ethiopia's state run care centers do not seem to work for that (though I would LOVE to stand corrected on this).  Most NGOs organizations that run orphanages, and certainly adoption agencies do not work for family preservation. Why? Money, I think. It costs money to support families who need a bootstrap to pull up. It costs money for infrastructure to build more hospitals, pay doctors, build bigger, better farms, send children to school.

And no one gains money when families are reunited. No one earns a cent. I don't know much. But I do know this: it's heartbreaking. I don't want adoption to stop in Ethiopia. I don't want kids kept in orphanages longer than they need to be. Because I am a mother to three kids who needed me to be their second mom. I know adoption can be good, beautiful thing. I am passionate about it.

But cruddy agencies and people who participate in corruption, I want them stopped. I want them stopped about five years ago.

This next story is hope. A baby who may have been adopted by a very loving, happy blessed family in the US or Europe. But he wasn't. He was saved from the trauma of losing his first family. Please see how he was mistakenly kept in an orphanage and how he was reunited with his family. Grab a tissue.

Today, I am mindful of children who need their moms and dads. Their first ones, or second ones. Or both. Because, really, it's about them. Not me.


Annie said...

First: wow. Second: oh that poor sweet boy and his yeasty mouth. I hope he is getting the care he needs. Third: thanks for getting this out there.

Anonymous said...

It seems these discussions divide the people into "PAPs" and "APs" in the sense that those just starting or waiting for referral choose to ignore the warnings because the other side already has their babies. I have heard "it's easy to criticize when you have your child and I am sitting here with empty arms". Sure, I understand the sentiment, but why is it so hard to have a conversation about this. It comes to money. Money already spent on agencies and months spent on waiting lists. And the dream of a curly hair little girl that might have to be traded to an older child or SN child. It just doesn't seem as cute on the adoption videos;) Our family walked away from the babies and chose older waiting children. Once I learned all of this, I could not have adopted with good conscience. And we walked away from Ethiopia as much as we fell in love with the country. It all just seemed too unstable and unethical to us. Thank you for presenting the topic in the way that you have

Jennifer said...

That video at the end is so eye opening. This stuff is so confusing. And terrible. Thank you for being willing to put this out there.

Deborah said...

Jennifer is right about it being confusing. How do you really know for sure that all you're told is true? And even if it is, how do you know exactly when a child would be better off with its parents, who are poor and live in an area without medical care or education, and when that child would be better off in the US? At what point does that switch happen?

When I was in Peace Corps, my host mom had a baby who she named after me. As I was preparing to leave, the little girl was 20 months old, and her mother kept asking me to take her with me. I said no, partly because I was 24 and single and had never held a full-time job in the US. But also because this little girl had a large extended family who loved her. She was still nursing. She was poor, but she wasn't malnourished. I thought she'd be better off with her biological mom. But I didn't know how to tell her mom that, and I kept making excuses (she's too young, it's too complicated). Having had that experience from a great mom who loved her kids, it's not hard for me to see how moms could be easily convinced to give up their babies, especially if money was involved.

Thank you for raising this discussion.

findingmagnolia said...

There is so much to say about this post, mostly yes and yes and yes. But I am stuck on the baby with the thrush because Elvie had horrible thrush, and what I found out was that while treating it with medication is best, you can also scrape it out with a tongue depressor and give relief, at least temporarily, at least enough so the baby can eat. But I doubt that orphanage staff would have anyone to teach them this, and I also doubt they have a ready supply of clean tongue depressors. And that saddens me and angers me because it's just so unfair. Unfair that my baby was a baby like that, in an agency care center with severe malnourishment, for crying out loud, and there is so little than can be done.

I need to stop typing because I'm still pretty angry about the condition Elvie was in when we picked her up, still shocked and horrified that no one told us ahead of time. I need to channel that energy into solutions. Because surely there are some. Surely there is a way to both take the money out of adoption and to help the orphanages' basic needs be met, including the need for training on basic care. But right now I've been up all night feeding the baby in the hospital, so some of your other readers are going to be brilliant in that regard.

Love to you, and thank you for writing about this, for opening up the discussion, for weeping when you saw that hurting baby.

Anonymous said...

West Sands Adoption agency, after most reputable agencies are not accepting applications right now, is saying infant referrals in 6-9 months. http://www.westsandsadoption.org/ws/countries/ethiopia/ they claim its because they work with so many orphanages. I have heard not good things about some of those orphanages. Also, adoption avenues seems to be handing out fast infant referrals lately. I think people think "if the rumors were really true, they would be shut down, so I am just gonna go with it here!" thanks for writing.

semiferalmama said...

Thanks for this post.
I agree on so many levels. And I have two thoughts to share.
1st, while it seems crazy that a different fee would be paid for a healthy infant versus sn or older child adoption this is actually akin to something we did in animal shelters. If an agency is ethical and is funneling money BACK into family preservation programs then charging what the market will bear for the infant could allow them to do more for family preservation and for helping kids with sn while they are in care. Keep in mind the agency is not saying what a child is worth (let us all agree that every child is worth more than the national debt.) This is the agency generating income to support its important programs. (Okay, I realize this is highly idealized, but I have seen it work.) And if you hate that I have made a comparison to animal sheltering, please do not expect me to debate you on that issue. I know it is NOT the same thing. It is not even close. But there are some parallels in the business models.
2nd - and completely unrelated to the first. There is a woman in my town who got a healthy infant girl referral in less than a month LAST FALL. She used YWAM who partners with CHI. She keeps inviting me to adoption events and reaching out to me and I just don't even want to look her in the face. One of her best friends has been on a waiting list for over two years with an "ethical" agency - so it is not like she could have been blind to the issue. So frustrating. And I am too chicken to tell her why I keep ignoring her emails.

Ingrid said...

Thank you for your heart. For your love. For your concern. For your arms. For your words. For your heart. For your heart. For your heart.

The ache....

autumn's dizzy thoughts said...

i want to thank you for your insight, for your information and links to real life stories. We are in the midst of our second "waiting child" special needs adoption. We first began the process in 2010 and began hearing of certain levels of corruption. We, in our guts, felt the most ethical situation was to adopt an older waiting child, with a better verifiable story. We still questions our little boy's past. He was born with a significant disabolity, and although its treatable, in his rural Ethiopian village there was little chance that he would ever walk. Deep in my heart i feel maybe his mother was forced to give him up b/c of this disability....and i am sure her pain was great. I dont beleive it was a corrupt situation, but still one that was likely full of pain. The Missionaries of Charity cared for him for 18 months, just in case his mother or family ever came back for him. After that year and half he was made available. I find a better piece of mind with this scenario than many other stories that are in more of a grey area. Our second adoption is of a 6 year old child who is HIV + being raise in a child-headed household...her 16 year old sister has been caring for her....she is a double orphan. Her story has been well documented thus far, and i feel at ease with it. But i just worry that if ET does not formally adopt the Hague, then more corruption is bound to take place

scooping it up said...

Autumn, thanks for stopping by, we too went into this second adoption knowing a LOT about our older girls (6 and 12) story, and that helped us push through to feel OK about adopting from ET again. and everyone, thank you for the comments. So much good stuff here. --Semi Feral, I totally get what you are saying and was not offended. :)

Nancy said...

Remember way back in 2009 (or was it 2010?) when we first met? I was saying the same things about VN that you are saying about ET. And now VN is closed. Some claim that there are far fewer babies even coming into the VN orphanages now that the program is closing. I think that's likely true. But there ARE still children coming in... and there are a lot of them. There is no hope for them now as the programs are closed. Even if the program opened up tomorrow (which is unlikely it will even be open in the next couple years) the children have aged past the highly coveted AYAP baby girls. I know they lay there days after day with tummies that rumble and my heart breaks. This is my fear for ET. Cambodia, Guat, VN... next ET? I pray not. I pray it can get worked out. But if I'm honest, it doesn't feel like it will.

Stephanie said...

What an emotional story! How wonderful they were reunited!

A couple of years ago I had an opportunity to travel to Peru. It was a life changing experience. When in Cusco, it was common for mothers to pose for pictures with their babies dressed in traditional clothing. You were expected to pay them to take their picture, and I was glad to. Their children were SO beautiful, I was drawn to them. I knew this was one of the few ways the indigenous people could make money and provide for their families.

At one of the sites we visited within the city, my sister and I saw a young family nearby selling bracelets. We went over to talk to them, buy a few trinkets, and practice our meager Spanish skills. They had the most beautiful baby girl. She was 8 months old. It was obvious how much they loved her. They allowed us to take a picture of her, free of charge :), and it’s my most treasured memento of my trip. Just as we finished our conversation and were headed on our way, they held up their sweet daughter and asked us to take her to America with us. I don't even remember how I responded to them. All I remember was the flood of tears as I turned around out of view, which continued throughout the day. I was saddened they were desperate enough to offer their beloved daughter for what they saw as a better life. I remember wishing I could just sweep her up and take her home with me; and I remember feeling so sad they would offer her to a stranger because I have more money and affluence. Could I love her more or better than her family??? Of course not!

The next day was Sunday and we went to church at a branch in Urubamba. They were expecting us and when we walked in a few girls motioned excitedly for us to sit with them. My husband and I sat with them throughout the service. During the meeting they were feeling my sweater, telling me how soft it was; holding my hand and feeling my skin on my arms and hands, and even on my face. Our conversation was limited due to my Spanish skills, but when my grandpa spoke during the meeting they were very impressed that he was my grandpa. They kept telling each other that he was my grandpa. I learned after the meeting that those children were orphans. The branch president runs an orphanage and some of the children attend church with him. Again, a flood of tears.

I talked at length with my grandpa, who is familiar with the culture and the challenges of the people, of how best to really help such families. It’s complicated, and there isn't a clear, nor easy, solution of how to help; especially how to help while allowing them to maintain their culture.

A couple of days later our travels took us to a town on the base of the Amazon River, Iquitos. It’s the largest city in the world inaccessible by road. There’s usually only one fight a day into the city or you can get there via a 4 day, or longer, boat ride. It’s very remote. I’d never imagined such poverty. While there, I was able to meet a family my parents have been helping financially for years. They purchased a mototaxi {there are no cars in the city so this is the form of transportation and source of income for many} for the father and pay for their daughter to attend school. She is about to enter college and was excited to report on her studies and success to my sister and me.

I hope to one day contribute more than my tears and compassion. I have helped monetarily in a small way, but it sure doesn't feel like enough! From far away it is hard to contribute in a meaningful way. Due to corruption, just sending money is not a good option.

You are an inspiration and example of compassion and sacrifice to make a difference in others’ lives. Thank you for sharing your journey and helping all those around you be more aware of those in need.

Sorry for such a long comment, but it was good to reminisce about this powerful experience, and be reminded that I need to do more to help others.

Kari said...

The thoughts in my head keep circling. It's so difficult if not nearly impossible to find a conclusion where all come out better off.

Scoopy, I can't tell you how many sleepless nights I have experienced thinking about these issues in ET and all around the world. I, too, have a pic from when I traveled of a wee little girl, who I wrote nearly half a journal about. How I still pray and think of her. I long to know if she is still even living. How I came back to the US and searched for any possible way someone I could make her my daughter.

Semi-feral, I agree with the 'idea' of your first point. And what a game changer that would be if it was actually happening.

But I wonder how many agencies are actually using the excess to support family preservation? I think many have used it, as an example, to gain Hague accreditation (that process is VERY expensive and time consuming) and I am in favor of the principles behind the Hague accreditation. In ET licensed agencies (not those who piggy-backy) are require by ET law as part of their licensing to give to other NGO's but it doesn't demand a particular % of revenue or even a dollar amount. I know a few agencies whose fee structure incorporates a dollar amount of the total fees to go to in-country support BUT at the sole discretion of that agencies Board of Directors.

But at the end of it I don't know or even entertain the idea that I know how to fix this. The drive for money, big amounts or small, is a powerful thing. I do know that having open, honest, compassionate conversations begin the first step of changing mind sets and open eyes. Thank you, Scoopy for giving us a platform.

Anonymous said...

In response to semiferal's comment regarding her friend who adopted through YWAM/CHI - YWAM is strictly a WAITING CHILD PROGRAM. They take a very limited number of families so that they never have more families in process than children who need families. Right now they are not taking any new families because they have very few children who are paper ready. Their mission is finding families for the children who are placed in one of their four orphanages, not children for the families who want them. The "ethical" agencies have hundreds of families on waiting lists for children who fit a specific parameter and that is better how? YWAM also has an active family preservation program in place because their mission - first and foremost - is to help the people of Ethiopia. That is why their orphanages are called widow and orphan homes. They are reaching out to a segment of the population who has no one to care for them. Feel free to check out their website at ywamethiopia.com to learn more about what they are doing before passing judgment and avoiding your friend.

Anonymous said...

"But there is also no know way to know if a grandfather, uncle, brother, husband, sister, mother, neighbor pressured a parent to give up a wanted child." I have a feeling this was my son's situation. I don't think it was done out of malice -- I think there was an honest and earnest hope for a better life for him. But I think the male in charge made that decision and the mom of the family didn't agree, but women don't have a voice. I am so sad about this. I was conflicted going in to international adoption and I'm no less so now. Thank you for your rant. People need to hear it. Adoption is always the result of a tragic situation, and a heart that is broken is broken forever. Time doesn't heal the hurt; it just helps our little ones -- and the loved ones they left behind -- adjust to their new reality.

Tina said...

To the commenter about YWAM, my only question/concern in response is, I've known people who's "waiting child" was 10 months, or 18 months. They were not in any special needs or with medical needs. These, by definition of their age are not waiting children. Kids with medical needs at that age, sure. Kids ages 4 and up? sure. A healthy 10-18 month old child? It's hard to swallow. So the words make sense, but in practice, it doesn't add up. -- this is a really thought provoking post

Kyra said...

How can people still feel OK about accepting a referral for a healthy infant after a one or two month wait? Easy - because God told them to. If you blame/credit God for everything and accept no responsibility for your own decision making, it's very easy to turn a blind eye (and it's so convenient when God wants exactly what we want!). It's no accident that the very worst adoption agencies are dripping with bible quotes.

scooping it up said...

Kyra, I am being brought back to that PlaceCalledSimplicity holy hot mess of ethics being tossed in the trash because "God wanted it," do you remember that train wreck? And you are right. As a Christian woman, adoption practices that some folks excuse under that banner of Christianity is very upsetting and discouraging. UGGG.

Mary Kathryn said...

The whole adoption thing isn't something I am familiar with. I pretty much know what you write and from the handful of people I know. But my motherly heart wants to take that baby and help him heal from his thrush. I can't even imagine how it would had been in person. Thanks for your insights into a new world to me.

S said...

How do you have time to write such thoughtful, heart rendering posts? I am looking forward to when you are home with your two older girls and your words that capture that journey.

Anonymous said...

A "waiting child" is a child who is paper ready for adoption who has not been matched with a family. With the big agencies, these lists usually consist of older children, siblings, or children with special needs because young babies/toddlers are referred to the families who are in line for a referral and therefore never make it to the "waiting child" list. As I mentioned before, YWAM is different because there are a limited number of families in process at a time (think 40 or less.) As a result, there is usually not a wait for a referral ON PURPOSE. They keep their program small so that there aren't 400 people waiting in line for a child. YWAM's purpose is to find families for the children and children don't typically come into the orphanages by the droves. They try to have a close correlation between families waiting and children in process. Makes sense, right?

With YWAM, once you receive your I171H, you are eligible for a referral from the waiting child list. That list can include older children, siblings, special needs, and healthy children. It really isn't complicated, but it is vastly different from the way most agencies do it and it seems people have a hard time wrapping their minds around it. Ask anyone who has used YWAM and you'll find that the children are their priority and it shows in the excellent care they receive in the orphanages. It is legit and they are doing a lot of good in ET.

Anonymous said...

The above should have said healthy "babies."

Anonymous said...

My best friend adopted her special needs son from ET. He was a baby and as far as anyone knows he's "healthy." But he is actually hiv+, but that is something they chose to not make public. Before anyone assumes their friend's child is "healthy" perhaps you should consider the idea that you don't have the full story before passing judgement. (Directed at commenter taking shots at their friend who adopted with YWAM. I don't know anything about YWAM, but I do know that *most* people don't know every detail of other people's adoption stories.)
This is a great and needed post. I arrived here after a friend posted your link on facebook. Thanks for bringing it further into the light.

semiferalmama said...

How does one get on YWAM's short list? Do you just have to get lucky and apply on the right day? Or might there be a "pre-list" of sorts - which is really just THE LIST?
Why has YWAM chosen to partner with the agency that appears to have the largest number of APs under Embassy review?
Why doesn't YWAM get their own license to be an agency in Ethiopia?
Why does YWAM do unrelated, simultaneous "sibling" adoptions? - a practice that most agencies will NOT do because it is almost never in the best interest of the children.
How does YWAM operate orphanages when the Ethiopian law requires that orphanages are operated by Ethiopian entities?
AND why, for all that is holy, would someone think an organization's webpage is the place to find out the TRUTH about that organization?
I bet Bernie Madoff's website explained very clearly why he was an amazing man with whom to invest your hard earned dollars.
And, why, am I debating with a person who is anonymous?

Captain Murdock said...

Just thinking of 10% of this hot mess seriously makes my head hurt. Thanks for writing about it Scoop and loved chatting with you t'other day!

I think bottom line is that most/some people on the short wait for a baby list just don't know. I am so guilty of just not knowing much when going into adoption the first time. It seems like information about ethics and corruption is so much more prevelant now, but is that because it is more mainstream or because we've just been living in this world for so much longer? Now I believe some people intentionally ignore the warning signs because they want "their" baby fast and they call it a God-thing, etc. Other times, I think people just legitimately don't know. Because you don't know what you don't know until you know it.

Which makes discussions like these so much more important. Hopefully more people will start to know ...

Concerned ET AP said...

Scooping, I liked your post until you said that YOUR adoption was legit. How in the world can you know if an abandonment case is legit or not? Do you have a crystal ball?

CappuccinoLife said...

Thank you for posting this. It is very important information.

My husband is Ethiopian. He knows the other side. It is sooooo not simple. Orphanages are often the only places for *wanted* children to go when parents hope for better food and education options for their children. Parents are often *not* fully informed about what their signing their children over to. Even in cases where they understand the child is going to another country, often they believe the child will come back to them educated and monied. The concept of "this adopted child is now as much *mine* as if I gave birth to him" is not common there.

There are children who need families, and legitimate routes for adoption. But there definitely is corruption in the system, not to mention simple cultural differences in perception.

scooping it up said...

Perhaps I didn't make it clear: Last year my husband traveled to Ethiopia to search and with a great bit of luck and time and money and gut wrenching emotion, spent several days with the people who confirmed our son's need for adoption. Then, be cause I still had doubts and the need to confirm, we made another trip together, last month, to talk to these people, with a personal friend as translator and "confirmer" this time, someone to help bridge the cultural gap that we knew and trusted, to help get to the bottom of things. That is not a crystal ball. That is called going after the truth and building connections. We have ongoing dialog and communication and frankly, a lot of love for these people. And I will say this, Concerned ET AP, I too am a concerned ET AP. If we had found out our son for any reason had been separated from his family in a way that is unethical, and hadn't meant for it to happen, anything really on the spectrum, moving to Ethiopia was on the table to help rectify a horrible horrible problem. Despite our understanding that there wasn't anything fishy other than outright tragedy, we still consider spending more time/living part time there. For our kids. Not that I need to spend my time trying to convince an anonymous commenter of anything. Thank you, Concerned.

Jennifer Morgan said...

We have adpted two children from ET. One using Gladney and our more recent adoption we used CHI/YWAM. We found them to be transparent and ethical. Our son was in care from birth to 2 years old. We confirmed the details of his (independently before embassy) story, as we did with our daughter (after the fact). As the other poster said. YWAM does it differently....in that ALL their children are waiting. They also keep their program very small. They close it once they have 35ish families in process. I don't know if CHI's program is still closed but it was for a while, too. Our referral was quick because our son had been waiting ...paper-ready for a long time. We were open to many health conditions, ages, and boy/girl. If we were limited on any of those...we would probably have to wait a long time.

Kim said...

thank you for this conversation, scooper. i know even with older waiting children like our boys there can be complications. i'm glad we can have an open conversation, though. and we NEED to ask questions. we NEED to pursue information. we NEED to be willing to get answers we don't want. otherwise we are doing a great disservice to our children.

Skeptical Concerned ET AP said...

Scooping, did you have a DNA test done with a relative, hopefully the mother or father? There's really no way to know for sure unless you've done this. Talking to finders or friends is no proof of anything. Those people could be the brokers dealing in babies. People lie, especially people who stand to gain from adoption. Stories change over years, but you haven't approached years from adoption yet.

If you love them, though, I guess they must be telling the truth.

scooping it up said...

Dear Skeptic. I applaud your skepticism and concern, as those things are feelings I have that prompted the post to being with. At this point, it is none of your business what we did to solidify our confidence in the truth and nature of our son's past. I will not divulge it to you. Stories absolutely change. I know they do. I know finders and birth families lie to protect things out of misunderstanding, cultural intricacies I don't understand, and fear. My knowledge and understanding of adoption and my child has changed over the last few years. Do not assume I am stupid. My steady shaving away of naivete is what brings me to write about these things. You don't know us. You don't know the details. The only person that I owe the details is my son, not you. The end part of your comment about "love" was just plain ol' being snarky. I appreciate your wish to help me see that all may not be as it seems, and I fully aware of that, which is why we went down the road to learn more to begin with. Adoption stories and journeys aren't a "one and done deal." I have no idea why you are choosing to add to this conversation by making assumptions about me and scoffing. It sounds like you have experience with an unethical adoption and wish to enlighten other families about the dangers involved in approaching birth families, finders, etc. If you would like to be constructive in this conversation, that is welcome. Being an ass, however, I am kinda over it.

Anonymous said...

I am the "anonymous" commenter, but my name is Jennifer and my husband and I have adopted through YWAM/CHI. As I mentioned in the previous post, YWAM is not currently taking any new families into the program. Families are encouraged to check in periodically to see if the status of that has changed.

I'm not sure where you are getting your facts regarding "the agency that appears to have the largest number of APs under Embassy review." The embassy is closely reviewing ALL cases and ALL agencies have been affected by this. In addition, I'm quite certain that all agencies have seen at least a case or two sent on to Nairobi for further review. YWAM/CHI has yet to have a single visa denied, so obviously the embassy has been satisfied. One important thing to note is that three of the four YWAM orphanages are located in very remote western ET where there are not a whole lot of adoptions processed. The government agencies out there are not as well versed in matters of adoption as those in Addis or other places where many adoptions are processed might be. As a result, the embassy often requests to interview a police officer or birth parent to verify that the information they have is correct. Communication to that remote area is not always easy and if the embassy is unable to get through to the particular official they are looking for, the case will likely be sent to Nairobi. As I mentioned, though, there hasn't been a case yet that hasn't cleared. To further help satisfy the embassy's requirements, CHI is now using an independent, third-party to investigator on all cases. In our particular case, we found that the information provided by the investigation was exactly what we had been told about our daughter.

YWAM no longer places unrelated children simultaneously and has not since 2010. There were a very few cases where this was done and only because the children had a special connection at the orphanage.

I think it is important to clarify the relationship with CHI and YWAM. When a family is accepted into the YWAM program, it just means that their child will come from one of the four YWAM widow and orphan homes, rather than the orphanages that CHI uses. CHI is the placing agency and they handle all paperwork and legalities from start to finish. In order to adopt from one of the YWAM homes, families must be Christians, while CHI does not have that same requirement for their orphanages. For those of us who have used the YWAM program, one of the big draws is that we know our children are prayed over and cared for by nannies who share our faith. The YWAM widow and orphan homes are licensed NGO's and the orphanage director is an Ethiopian woman who had a heart to help this particular population in her country. An American missionary visiting Ethiopia also had the same heart and helped to establish these homes. The care that the children receive in the widow and orphan homes is excellent and I have witnessed that firsthand at the orphanage where my daughter lived. It was obvious when she came home that she had been well loved. In addition, I have had the opportunity to see the family preservation program in action and it is truly making a difference in the lives of families in several regions of Ethiopia. We met our sponsored family and learned that the family was able to stay intact because of the monthly support they are receiving. For the record, I suggested a look at the YWAM website because it explains more about the work they are doing (and it is so much more than just adoption) and, quite honestly, to compare them to Bernie Madoff is insulting.

scooping it up said...

Concerned: I delted your comment mostly because it is my space and I feel like you still haven't added anything constructive and helpful to this conversation except trying to tear me down personally, as opposed to something helpful. What is nagging me is why aren't we on the same team, you and I? Why do you think I don't want the same things as you? People to learn more and understand better the adoption situation in Ethiopia. If you are one who believes now that all adoption should be ceased in Ethiopia due to corruption, I respect that. I am not there but I understand why people feel that way. I feel like you haven't spent enough time here to know what I am about or how I really feel. That makes me sad. I hate corruption. I don't like that our first adoption was with an agency that worked through an orphanage that I don't trust. You don't know what you don't know. Now I know. Which is why I write and share. This isn't a high horse. It's my space to share what I learn and how I feel. Our second adoption is with a different agency, two children ages 6 and 12 from a waiting list. We didn't want to adopt an infant. We didn't want to use the same agency or orphanage. We wanted more transparency. You might believe our choice to adopt again just makes our hands dirtier. That is your opinion. I just hope you find another blog to read that makes uplifts you instead of coming here and becoming irritated or angry. I am not worth your time if that is how you feel when you come here. Life is too short.

Anonymous said...

Could someone explain to me why infants who have a living birth mother aren't kept in the family as the cost of a breastfeeding infant isn't great? This is the case in other African countries where children don't really enter orphanages until 2 years old or so. Is there a difference that I just can't figure out? Also, why are some referrals just a few weeks old? Is this truly enough time to try and locate relatives or even domestic adoption families? My friend is number #102 on their agency's healthy girl list for Ethiopia. The agency has given 4 referrals a month lately. I can't wrap my kind around why anyone would want to join that kind of craziness:(

scooping it up said...

Anonymous, great questions. I have several friends who's children ages 9-18 months were relinquished by poor fathers who's wives died in child birth or soon after, so that is one scenario. Some babies are abandoned or relinquished by young, teen mothers, because even though breastfeeding costs little, eventually more food is required. -- Children are not supposed to be referred until they are 3 months old, as decreed by MOWA the ministry of women's and children's affairs. The one exception is if tehre is an infant with a major health problem requiring immediate surgery. The government speeds things up then and infants with severe special needs are sometimes referred when they are 8-14 weeks old

scooping it up said...

This being said, there shouldn't be THAT many of these infants being referral so early, and an agency dolling out four referrals a month of babies this age is NOT a good situation for sure.

Anonymous said...

This is the agency I mentioned 2 comments up that my friend is with. This blogger mentions a 6 week old referral. According to my friend, most if not all are NSN referrals. http://luchtadoption.blogspot.com/2012/07/we-got-call.html
Certainly not waiting the 3 months to refer here...