Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Thoughts on Adoption vs Family Preservation

We have been adopting now for over 28 yrs.. We have 5 bio. children who are now adults. We have done foster to adopt in the US as well. We have adopted 27 children. We adopted for the first time from Mexico, and continued to have bio. children and did foster care. Then for the past 11 yrs. we adopted 26 children- 6 from Russia, 10 from Ukraine, 2 from Bulgaria and 8 from Ghana. We have traveled to all of these countries and visited many orphanages even many we did not adopt from. We have always felt called by the Lord thru the verse in James 1:27...Religion that God our Father excepts as pure and faultless is this: To look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. I have been a part of groups doing ministry to orphans in these countries. I have financially supported NGOs and even gave prayer support to them. This is not being written to condemn to putting your efforts towards these types of programs and ministries in a country. They help the few for a time and I am certainly a believer in the starfish thought- " It helps for that one starfish that got thrown back into the ocean." So don't take this post that I am against this effort because I am not and have even participated in them. There is great value for the ones they do help. Unfortunately for the long term I don't think they are the answer to the orphan problem. I also believe that the Lord is always in control and if that means a child is orphaned thru the loss of their parents, or circumstances of the parents that does not allow them to take care of their children and they become my child because of these circumstances. Then that was God's plan all along. God does not have a plan B....He is never controlled by our ability to respond to Him. I believe this and know that He has been real to me in my life and my ministry with orphans. I ultimately believe every child that is in our family was given to us by the Lord. It was always the Lord's plan for our family to have these 32 children (bio. and adopted). He is the builder of our family. Even though some of my children did not form or develop in my womb - God knew them before they were born and He knows the plans for them. I don't like the circumstances that some of my children had to live thru before they were in our life. I feel the deep grief of loss some of them have felt but to be honest all of them have gotten over this. Maybe it has been with the guidance of us towards seeking God's will in their lives and using their past experiences to fulfill this purpose. Each one of us has pain, and grief for losses we have experienced even if we are bio. children of the families we are in. I do know it is always thru the love of Jesus that we all overcome this grief and pain. How we deal with this, to what or whom we turn to for healing is what is important. I am grateful to the birth moms of my children but, I feel the Lord wanted us to complete the parenting of these children. I fully support all of them seeking their birth families and countries when they are adults. I hope to even travel back with some of them.

I think that Ghana is not whole lot different than the other countries we have adopted from....except the children seem to have less attachment issues than the other children from the EE countries we have adopted from. I love the process, dossier and even our travel in country. I am in a constant state of sadness about Ghana. I pray that it changes and that families will be able to adopt again. I do not think that the culture as a whole will ever take care of the poor children of their country. I am not for family preservation as much as I am for adoption. I am against child trafficking but, I don't think programs like NGOs are the answer in these countries and especially Ghana. The gov't really does not care or have the capability economically to make families be able to provide food, medical care and jobs for their people.... So children will suffer. NGOs help a few for a short time but the overall thoughts, emotions and ability for the culture to think differently takes a long time for positive changes. I believe it is better for the children to be adopted into a culture that does provide food, health care and economic possibilities for their children like the US generally does. UNICEF tries to promote and encourage a country to keep children with bio. families. However, for the 28 plus yrs. we have been adopting I have never seen a country change it's opinion of the orphan or poor child. They are not valued and often thought of as trash. No money is spent on these children or the country like Ghana is so poor there are no resources for orphans. Ghana not so much but all the EE countries for sure feel this way. What is needed in a way is for these countries to provide jobs, and ways to earn income for their people. It is a huge economic issue that causes an unbearable social issue- to care for the orphans, special needs and the children of the poor.

I do not think NGOs are the best way to help orphans. I believe that adoption is the best for these children stuck in families who may even love them dearly but can not give medical care for preventable diseases that will kill or cause harm to their children. Families can not provide enough food to sustain them let alone be healthy. Families who are forced to leave very young child at home ( age 2 yrs) so that the mom can work all day. I have some children from Ghana who were left by themselves all day until dark....with no food and my son still has nightmares about " some evil men who came while mom was gone and he was only 4). Did his mom love him- yes but because her culture is economically poor and the majority of its people can not sustain their families I believe it was best for him to be adopted by us. Some of my children were even sold to not so healty situations where they were abused. Some of my children have had health issues that could have been prevented if they had received medical care here in the US earlier in their lives that was not available in their own countries. Some of my children's lives were saved by us adopting them....They would have died if they had stayed with their family or orphanages much longer. God used us to give them life or a chance at life....Now what they do with this opportunity is really up to them. I don't harbor any ill feeling towards the birth moms. My children all know we are grateful for their birth families....and we are even more grateful that the Lord gave them to us.

Am I certain without a doubt all my children came legally- not really. I do believe they were adopted legally and feel that all the agencies we worked with are legit and legal who really do care about the children and doing the adoption on the up and up. I would be against child trafficking of any sort. However, now that my children are apart of my family I feel and support any contact they wish to have with their birth parents or other significant caregivers before us - this should be up to them as an adult to decide. I have been apart of many support, yahoo groups and it is interesting to see comments from what I call "Newbie adopters" who think they have all the answers about orphans, child trafficking, and family preservation. They don't and have not earned my respect when they shove their own thoughts or emotions down other adoptive families throats. No one should feel shame or be shamed publicly about their views on adoption. Everyone has their own answers to the problems of orphans but unfortunately my husband and I over the 28 plus years we have been on our adoption journey have not seen their answers to work. They help a few for a short time as I shared but none have been doing it for the long term sponserships or support for orphans. In reality the issue is much bigger... It is a cultural thing that even us in the US suffer from - We do not value the life of a child as God does. We think we have the answers and we don't. Children suffer from this lack of valuing them and who they are in God's eyes. All of the countries we have adopted from are struggling economically and until this is improved money will not be given to orphans or their care. Families will continue to struggle to provide. The rich will always get richer and the poor will always struggle until we can change the ability for the families to be able to make money and take care of their children. Providing it thru NGOs helps the few but the overall ability for change will take years - not in my lifetime, only God can move in the hearts of people to change how they value children. So far I have not seen a great movement of this being done even in the hearts of the people in my own country. Until it does there will always be orphans, and children who do not get medical or necessary living care to survive let alone flourish.

At least for these children in my family, who call me momma adoption was better than family preservation.... No regrets and definitely do not feel shame for adopting them. Thank you Lord for all of my children- No matter how they were given they were received as a blessing.


Emily @ Busy Mommy said...

I agree in all aspects Jeanne. And I think that's why many of the 400+ members do not openly comment in the Ghana adoption group. I know I do not as much anymore and I never share anything specific about our new adoptions.

There are a certain few people that I tend to ALWAYS disagree with in there and it seems like they think there way is the right, just, and ethical way.

Emily @ Busy Mommy said...

I agree on all aspects Jeanne. I think that's why many of the 400+ members of the Ghana adoption group do not publicly comment. There are a certain few people that I tend to ALWAYS disagree with their views. It's hard to not say something when they think their view is the right, ethical, just and only way and then they pounce when someone mentions something different.

mommajeane said...

I agree about the Ghana group. I removed myself weeks ago because I got tired of all the "know it alls". Everyone has a right to express their opinion without being treated shamefully. It got to be so negative and not supportive as it should have been. I also got tired of all of the accusations done in a round about way about POAs and no one sharing facts....been better without all the drama. Thanks for sharing.

Christie M said...

Hold your head high and praise the Lord for His wonderful provision for your sweet family.

The orphan problem (social or a child without living parents or relatives) is huge and you are so right. These countries tides have not turned to value orphans.
Until that happens, adoption is best.
I think here, we do not get the "cultures" from some of the countries we adopt from. They can be so harsh.... life being harsh.

I remember the story of Mosha, who's adoption didn't go well. To many people's surprise, her parents did not want her back.

There is much to learn about other cultures.
I agree, God has placed our children with us!

You have a very healthy attitude about the possibility of your children seeing their bio families again.
Is Ghana now closed?

mommajeane said...

Ghana has been influenced in my opinion by UNICEF. There is a woman in the social welfare who wants to stop adoptions and she has been highly influenced by UNICEF. So adoptions for any new families have pretty much stopped. Authorities in many regions are not signing off docs for adoptions as timely as they could. It is not law yet but just like in other countries other authorities in country who side with this person slow it down. Our agency is not taking any new families and I think most agencies are doing this as well. Unfortunately for the children...I love this program and country.

Jenny said...

I'm on my third adoption from Ethiopia (and did three Liberia); I blame UNICEF for Ethiopia's issues as well. My daughter stuck there is 100% orphaned and I have the sister, but they aren't signing off on her because there isn't a relative to sign.

Christie M said...

I have read both sides of this issue regarding IA.

Unicef has not "personalized" their ideas enough to be respectfully respected.
The book I read a couple of months ago was a pro unicef book. There were some valid points. I wish it had come from the Christian critique themselves, but it didn't.

Family preservation is a great idea, BUT.... until it is possible even logistically, willing adoptions SHOULD continue!
Of course not child trafficking. You and I are both on the same page there.
The lesson is to be careful that those who are helping are ethical and moral.

Unicef is responsible for world wide adoption shut downs claiming children are better of in their own countries..... well, that COULD be true, if those countries accepted their children.
But you and I both know that many of these children do not even know their country. All they have seen were the 4 walls of an orphanage or worse yet, the four sides of a crib.
Left. To. Rot....
as Unicef gloats that they are successfully keeping people from "rescuing" children. I would like for them to stay in one of those orphanages for a month and watch each child they have sentenced to DEATH.... and come out with the same opinion.
My guess, it it they would change their minds.
How could they NOT, if they saw before and after pictures of many of our children?

Holly said...

I'm not sure at what point you might consider another person's opinion on this given I felt like you were discounting anyone's opinion that had not been adopting for over 20 years. We adopted our children 3 years ago. We lived in the country we adopted from (an African country very similar to Ghana) for 4 1/2 years. I was involved with orphan and vulnerable children ministries while we lived there. I found many of your assumptions about families living in other country extremely upsetting. I have found quite the opposite to be true where we lived. Almost ALL the families we knew had orphans and vulnerable children living in their homes (and these families were already poor and struggling!). The community and church cared for the hurting children in their midst with love and concern. I would never want to take these children from their families simply because I could offer more food, better healthcare and better schooling. I would never want to take a child away from their family (and I make the assumption that most families do want and love their children) simply because their family is in extreme poverty. Building up and coming alongside the amazing women and men that are caring for the orphans and vulnerable children in their midst is such an incredible way to help strengthen families. The church and the strong communities that we were a part of showed amazing strength and courage to care for those that were suffering. I walked away completely humbled by the way that those in desperate situations were able to care for the vulnerable and young. There are amazing projects similar to these that are in Uganda that you might enjoy learning more about. Abide Family Center is one such place.

mommajeane said...

Holly thank you for sharing your opinion. I did not mean to discount anyone because of the shortness from their adoption...what I was doing was sharing how long we have been adopting and what we have seen over almost 3 decades now of being in adoption world. I would totally agree with you that the programs like NGOs or the one you were involved in are great and do some good for the most part. However, there has not been one that has lasted- that was more my point. I am not at all against NGOs and even participated in these myself but the overall help for the orphan issue has not been great in my opinion because of them. The difference an adoption makes in a child's life though has and can make a difference. Of course I am not for removing children from their parent when the parent can provide all those things that I mention and not necessarily to the same standards as the US but way better than we have observed. I would agree for the most part the children from Ghana have been loved and wanted but the mom's ( in all of our adoptions there were no dad's still in the lives of these children) couldn't feed or take care of their children. All of the trauma my kids have lived thru was because they were left alone and not cared for and either experienced sexual abuse or neglect because the mom was not home . So I am glad you observed differently than what I know are facts in my child's lives...some children even with loving parents don't get the care they need to even survive.

mommajeane said...

We are on the same page for sure. Family preservation is the best but only if the country or family can take care of their children...I have seen here with foster care to and it is not best for the child if they are not cared for. Of course we agree about child trafficking to. Thanks for sharing.

Holly said...

Thank you for responding to my comment. And thank you for your clarification. I wasn't necessarily speaking about NGOs. I was actually speaking about nationals caring for their children in local ministries. For example, one group was started by a woman and her husband. They had noticed 100s of children separated from their families during years of war and insecurity. She either reunified them with their families or she found local families to care for them. Then she formed a large association (all with nationals) that supported her work. She fed them each day and also started a school for them. This was not an NGO (there was no outside support). This was a local solution to extreme poverty, war and insecurity. And this started 15 years ago at least. And it is still running. NGOs come and go, I agree. And some do good work, some do more harm than good. But I think that truly what is amazing and inspiring is how the people from the country we were living in cared for their children. Coming alongside this group I shared about a minute ago meant that we brought them some sewing machines. Which they immediately started giving sewing classes to the older orphans, which provided them with a skill and a trade. There are countless more examples. For me, if there was a mother or father that loved their child and wanted to care for them, but couldn't because of extreme poverty, I have seen that coming alongside them and working together with the community (and with projects like micro-finance loans in the community) is a very effective way to keep children with their families.

kms said...

God expected us to care for widows AND orphans. He wants us to do this because the widow and orphan can be vulnerable and be taken advantage of. Robbed of their livelihood and inheritance. We should be feeding and educating and giving medical care to children and families without separating them and housing the children elsewhere. Imagine if a medical issue hit a family in the US and answer wasn't a hospital system that has to treat all it's patients and nutrition assistance but removal from the home and subsequent adoption? God permits the will of others. Jesus taught us to to treat people well but still not all do those things. Even Christians fall short. It's unfortunate people haven't come up with better solutions to the sins of others that cause poverty and substandards safety nets for the vulnerable. Once adoption happens the family is not caring for an orphan. Adoption makes the child family. Orphan ministry is caring for orphans while they are orphans. If your husband died and you were not allowed by society to work and could not feed all your children would you want them to be forever parted from you? That isn't caring to the widow. If a war fell upon the US and there was displacement and poverty and your children were sent abroad and adopted how would you feel? How would you feel about this God person if like those other countries you had never heard of Him after such a loss happened?

mommajeane said...

kms- thank you for your opinion. I actually would want my children to go from me if that meant a better life for them. If you remember the dilemma Solomon was faced when 2 prostitutes came to him to decide whose baby the child was. The one who was the bio. mom " was filled with compassion for her son", and was willing to let the other mom take him for him to live. I would hope I could respond as the bio. mom did with her baby.

I agree that we should be feeding and helping children stay when it is possible but , my point in my post was to share over the 28 plus yrs. we have not seen any programs that have continued . Most start with high goals but they stop and where does this leave the family or the child? I wish it was different...but telling me about a a program or an NGO that has been doing this type of work for just a few yrs. is good but not proving a point..It is needed for people to stay with their support, give over decades even - I just have not seen this and all the effort helped just a few. So I still believe that adoption works better and unfortunately the cost of a life ( the cost of the adoption is high) is costly. To me changing the life of an orphan thru adoption works better than these programs....although I am not against having them , I am against the thought that they work to keep the family unit functioning at a level of health. Even in the US where families have lots of support and incentives the family unit is struggling. We have done foster care here and it is a very sad institution that is broken in my opinion....mostly due to the thought of "family preservation". We have had children thrown back into extremely unhealthy situations in their family because of this thought.Some have even died. I think what you share and others want is admirable . I just unfortunately don't see it working for the long run.

kms said...

Someone else is always better.

Solomon didn't test who was the best mom for the child. He was trying to determine which person was wrought with grief and wanted the child that was not theirs to replace the child that was lost to them. Ironically it was a test to return the child to the person who was their mother because it is wrong to separate a child from its mom just cause there is someone else wanting to parent that child. When the biological parent wants to be with their child even an extreme measure, like threatening to cut them in half should be taken. Adoption isn't Gods answer to poverty. Feed my sheep is the answer. Caring for widows and orphans is an answer. God love adoption. But in not sure adoption as a solution to artificial orphan hood, the current answer to poverty is the way to go. It seems odd to me the wealthy in the us get those children via charity.

mommajeane said...

Kms I understand this story diff. than you. My sharing it was all about the great love the bio. mom had for her child to realize what was best for that child- certainly choosing for them to live rather than to die was best in my opinion. So that is why it was shared . It had nothing to do with who was the best mom for the child. I agree the answer to poverty is not always adoption. You and the others misread my blog posts terribly. I guess being swayed by your own emotions as deeply as I am with mine gets in the way of actually "getting" what I post. I totally understand . It would be wonderful if these answers to the issue of poverty was to feed them but it is not or has not been done . Cultures even the US still struggle with this issue of poverty. My post was only saying from what I have seen over 3 plus decades the answers you or other groups suggest are wonderful but they have not worked. It is more a human sin nature issue and I believe we live in dire times. We agree on way more than you can see when you read my blog...Adoption does work and works well for the child for the most part way more than these other programs. Many of the agencies, coordinators we have worked with grew up in these cultures and have returned to help the next child to get out of these poor areas. I know many of mine are interested in returning and helping their birth countries in some way...and all of mine would tell you for them they are glad they were removed from their birth families and orphanages and given a chance at a life they would not have had in their birth countries. I have enjoyed listening to your opinions but , I think we agree more than we disagree.

Elaine said...

I'd love for all birth parents to be able to stay with their children if they were capable. It's not just about material poverty: money for food and shelter, but about cultural attitude. My son's bio parents are married with jobs, but because he has special needs they couldn't accept him.

So "adoption isn't always the answer to poverty" but helping materially wouldn't have helped my son remain in his birth family.