Peter Dodds describes the many human rights violations embedded in the international adoption system. This PowerPoint was delivered as part of his keynote address at the Adoption Experience 2012! conference in Toronto, Canada.
Adoption Experience 2012! Toronto, Canada“International Adoption: In Whose Best Interest?” Presenter: Peter Dodds October 20, 2012
What are international adoptees saying?“In my experience, transracial international adoption is one of themost thorough and brutal forms of forced assimilation.”1 -- So Yung Kim, Korean adopted by Americans“Taking a child from another culture is an act of aggression.”2 -- Lemn Sissay, Ethiopian adopted by British parents“… international adoption has many parallels to the Atlantic slavetrade. Both are driven by insatiable consumer demand, utilize asystem of pricing and dependent on intermediaries in the form ofslave hunters and adoption agencies…”3 -- Tobias Hubinette, Korean adopted by Swedish parents
“There comes a time whenone must take a position thatis neither safe, nor politic,nor popular, but he must doit because Conscience tellshim it is right.” -- Martin Luther King
In whose best interest?"… the emphasis has changed from the desire toprovide a needy child with a home, to that ofproviding a needy parent with a child. As a result, awhole industry has grown, generating millions ofdollars of revenues each year . . .” -- Special Rapporteur, United Nations, Commission on Human Rights, 2003
International adoption from a market perspective• children are commodities in transactions• a child is first commodified and then sold• import, export, minimum pricing of adoption• cost of adoption for the US citizen• selling children to rich pedophiles -- Lilia Khabibullina, Fellow, University of Barcelona, “Minors Adoption in Russia: International Adoption or Child Transaction?” March 25, 2011
"… lack of regulation and oversight coupled with thepotential for financial gain, has spurred the growth ofan industry around adoption, where profit, rather thanthe best interests of children, takes centre stage. Abusesinclude the sale and abduction of children, coercion ofparents, and bribery.”4 -- UNICEF position on intercountry adoption
“I was appalled by the moratorium put in place under pressure from UNICEF and the U.S. and I‟m appalled by the new law.”Elizabeth Bartholet international adoption industryadvocate responding to Guatemalan ban on foreignadoptions put in place to prevent baby thefts, childtrafficking and agency corruption. -- Ezra Fieser, “Guatemala: a baby factory no longer?” Globalpost.com, Dec 23, 2009
The “Stolen Generations”• a term used for the thousands of Aboriginal children who were forcefully taken (stolen) from their families• by the Australian government and Christian missionaries• between the 1890s and 1970s
Effects on Aboriginal children removed from their homes & cultures• mental and physical health problems• delinquency and behavioral problems• loss of cultural heritage• broken families and communities• racism1995 Australian National Inquiry into the Separation ofthe Stolen Generation from their Families
Australian formal apology to the Stolen Generations and Aboriginal people• “We apologise for the laws and policies that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians”• “We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.• “For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.• “To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.” -- Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd; February 13, 2008
Foreign adoptees are “deaf” suffering trauma until learning the language of their adopting parents“Deaf children often need trauma-specific mentalhealth services to equip them with the skills they needto cope with their traumatic experiences.” -- National Child Traumatic Stress Network, "White Paper on Deaf andHard of Hearing Children," October 2005“Inadequate communication with significant othersduring ones developmental years severely impedes allfacets of psycho-social development.” -- Dr. Michael Harvey, National Child Traumatic Stress Network,"White Paper on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children," October 2005
“If ... the best interests of the child are to be thedetermining factor in child custody cases ... personsseeking babies to adopt might profitably frequentgrocery stores and snatch babies from carts… they canassert they have a nicer home, a superior education, abetter job or whatever, and that the best interests ofthe child are with the baby snatchers. Children ofparents deemed less affluent might be consideredparticularly fair game.” -- Justice James Heiple, Illinois Supreme Court in the “Baby Richard" case
“Children in orphanages are highly likely to have one or even both parents alive. Many of these children -- 80 percent or more in some countries -- have at least one surviving parent.” -- Better Care Network, August 2009
There is no word for adoption in most African languages.
"Poverty is no reason to take children away. Poverty isnot a disease and international adoptions are not asolution." -- Roelie Post, Former EU official once responsible for foreign adoptions from Romania
Preying on the poorAdoption agencies charged The total monthly outgoingsprospective parents up to which would allow a mother and$64,357 for processing an child to stay together as a familyintercountry adoption in unit in Ethiopia: $15 per month.2011.U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs Elizabeth Willmott Harrop, “Adoption trade sets up shop in Africa,” Libertyandhumanity.com, 12 July 2012
Holt International Childrens Services: Adoption fees overview“Holt believes finances should not stop a child fromhaving a loving family.” -- http://www.holtinternational.org/adoption/assistance.php. web 12 October 2012.Holt marketing ploy to prospective adopting parentswhile poverty forces mothers around the world to giveup their children.
"… the promise of money from abroad has turnedchildren into commodities in the graying andincreasingly amoral world of intercountry adoption.” -- African Child Policy Forum “Africa: The New Frontier for Intercountry Adoption”
“Africa: The New Frontier for Intercountry adoption” Highlights1. Develop and support community based child care2. Children‟s right to cultural identity3. Equating “orphans” with “adoptable” children runsthe risk of compromising children‟s rights4. The best interests of African children should be theprimary obligation of African families, communities andgovernments
104,000 children in the U.S. foster care system wait to be adopted.5“My concern is that when these foster care children see so many Americans stepping over them to go abroad, they will feel a sense of not being good enough.” -- Rita Soronen, Executive Director, Dave Thomas Foundation Foxnews.com, April 3, 2009
Ethiopian Adoption OverviewMany international adoption agencies flashing Christian credentialsare taking advantage of Ethiopias situation.Corruption, fraud and deception are rife.Many „relinquishing‟ Ethiopian parents or carers may have beenduped into giving up their children. -- www.abc.net.au, Fly Away Children, 15/09/2009
The Evangelical Adoption Crusade“I think Christians are the worst at this sometimes, aboutthe ends justifying the mean... You‟ll hear people saying,I‟m following God‟s law, not man‟s laws… I will falsify avisa application if I have to.” -- Chuck Johnson, Executive Director National Council for Adoption -- www.thenation.com,The Evangelical Adoption Crusade, May 9, 2011
Nina Hilt, one of 19 Russian children murdered by their American adopting parents.6
Hannah Williams an Ethiopian murdered by her American adopting parents.
Drop-side crib deaths compared to murdered "foreign" adopteesSince 1997: Since 2001:20 “foreign” children have 32 children have diedbeen murdered by their as the result of drop side cribs from a pool of aboutAmerican adopting parents 40 million children.from a pool of about250,000 children. (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission)
Per capita murders of foreign adoptees by their American adopting parents far exceed deaths caused by drop-side cribs. The US Congress found drop-crib deathsto be a public health and safety issue and took action7: 1. stopped the manufacture and sale of drop-side cribs 2. recalled millions of these dangerous cribs 3. implemented new safety standards
Adoption Policy and Reform CollaborativeA diverse group of adoptees from across the United Stateswho identify, create, implement, and sustain ethical adoptionpractices through collaboration with other stakeholders.
The Adoption Policy and Reform Collaborative Recommends: The U.S. Congress create an independentcommission to study the murders of foreignchildren adopted by Americans, identify systemicproblems and recommend reforms to preventfurther abuses.
In memory of the 20 "foreign" adoptees who lost their lives to international adoption.
African Child Policy Forum: Africa the New Frontier of Intercountry Adoption"… intercountry adoption as one of the significantresponses to addressing the problem of childrendeprived of their family environments is neithersustainable nor feasible."
About Peter DoddsPeter Dodds was born Peter Friedrich Sander and adopted from aGerman orphanage by American parents.His autobiography, Outer Search Inner Journey, is the first bookwritten by a foreign born adoptee on the subject of intercountryadoption. An international speaker, Peter has delivered keynoteaddresses at New Zealands National Adoption Conference andTorontos Adoption Experience 2012.He is a graduate of the International Olympic Academy (Greece),holds advanced university degrees, Directed a program for theUnited States Olympic Committee, worked on a legislative staff andwas an elite‟ Ranger when serving as a U.S. Army officer.Peter can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Endnotes1 Kim So Yung, “Trading in Babies,” Conducive Magazine, 13 August 20092 BBC News, “Out of Ethiopia: Is international adoption an ethical business?” 25 June 20123 “A critique of intercountry adoption”, in William Dudley (ed.), Issues in adoption-Currentcontroversies, Greenhaven Press, 2004, pp. 66-71.4 “The big business of Haitian adoption,” Alter Press, 23 March 2010. web 6 October 2012.5 “Common myths about adoption,” AdoptUSKids. web 29 September 2012.6 “Russia signs tougher adoption deal with U.S.” Chicago Tribune, 30 July 20127 “Federal Government Passes New Crib Safety Regulations,” New York-Presbyterian,1 September 2011