Thursday, April 15, 2010

Of our own...

A U.S. adoptive mother, unable to deal with her adopted son, abandoned the 7 year old on a Russian bound plane. Russian officials are understandably outraged and it is a particularly unflattering thing for the United States to be getting press coverage over it. At the same time, it really isn't any more accurate to conflate the irresponsibility of a mother with the ineptitude of all American adoptive parents any more than it is to mistake one's own son as a representative of Russia that can be packed up and sent back to where he came from.

While Russia's suspension of U.S. bound adoptions in response may be a more political move along the lines of similar posturing in China, it should revive in us a passion for adoption of American children by Americans. Legal red tape needs to be cleared, the rights of adoptive parents protected, and the overall cost and time of adoption reduced. The average cost of adoption through, for example, Catholic Charities is $20,500 according to their website. It may not be true, but my understanding has long been that American couples adopt overseas at a much higher rate than they otherwise would because of the difficulty in adopting an American born child.

4\19 I want to add that this is not so much a matter of an America first argument, or even a take care of our own thing. Instead it is a matter of common sense. Why go overseas when there are so many children who need homes right here in front of us? Save on airfare and avoid international law issues.  I can think of some other reasons, legitimate or not, why Americans might prefer foreign adoption. 1) Perhaps there is a quiet fear of having to face birth parents later in life, a complication that while embraced by some, is incredibly intimidating to others. Foreign adoption, you would think, reduces this risk. 2) Foreign adoption leaves adoptive parents with the warm feeling of giving a home to a  foreign child who might otherwise live in squalor while being choosy about physical ailments and disabilities. One of the cases in this story from CNN is a direct counter to this though.
http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/04/13/russian.adoption.families/index.html
3) Many of the children available for adoption or in need of adoption here in the United States are African American living in poverty. A majority of adoptive parents in the United States are Caucasian and upper middle class. (by my estimate)

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