Jane Alexander “Street Cadets with Harbinger: Wish, Walk/Loop Long” 1997-8 Mixed media
When I started this blog, the idea was to post about Ethiopian culture from my point of view as I was discovering it. That discovery turned out to be also about adoption, race, black culture, and many other things I didn’t imagine at that time.
After adopting an older child, another point of view was added to my experience: my daughter’s view. She not only remembers a lot about Ethiopia, but also still reflects her culture in the way she acts and thinks, so she’s a living example of “culture in action”.
It has also been an unfiltered view about how children enter the adoption world, what they experience before they come to our home. She showed me a side that is usually hidden from prospective adoptive parents, and is not a pretty one. When this side rarely appears in front of us, we don’t want to believe what we are told, or at least we want to believe we did our best to adopt ethically.
The problem is that we might have done our best but we still have no control over what happens on the other end of the adoption link.
When the facts hit our face, we have two choices: to talk about it or to close our mouths forever.
If we talk about our discoveries, we not only become the target of the anger of other adoptive parents, adoption agencies, etc., but we also open the private lives of our children for everyone to see, and that is something that very few parents are willing to do.
So, what do we do? We don’t talk about it. We share our pain and that of our kids only with close family and friends and professionals who work with us to help with the consequences of trauma. We become part of what I call the adoption “pact of silence”. And since nobody speaks, the stories keep repeating over and over.
When I read adoption blogs that disclose information about corruption in adoption, bad practices, children trauma, on one hand I feel sorry for the kids whose lives are exposed, but on the other hand I kind of feel it’s necessary to open the conversation about the subject.
Unfortunately this conversation can’t be abstract, it needs facts.
Regarding my own experience, I only talk about things that I consider that won’t hurt my children, I have to respect their privacy and leave in their hands the part of telling their own stories when they become adults.
It’s also difficult to point fingers, since there are so many people involved, and besides, who can cast the first stone?
But I still feel guilty of not telling more, of not stopping what is happening right now while I’m writing this post.
I don’t like to be part of “the pact”, it’s wrong.
It’s not only about corruption in adoption, but mostly biological parents lacking information of what giving up a child will do to him.
Of course nobody is interested in spending money teaching parents in Ethiopia about the consequences of adoption or in helping them to keep their children, or even with family planning before they become overwhelmed with too many kids they can’t feed or educate. It’s not that parents don’t love their children, usually it is quite the contrary, they want to better their lives but they don’t have any idea of the trauma those children will endure through adoption.
Usually families in both ends are kept in the dark. Biological families think they are doing the best for their child, adoptive parents think they are adopting an orphan or a child that can’t be cared for by his family, and many times it is not one nor the other.
The middle man profits from the ignorance of both ends, the child suffers the life long consequences.
And we all keep in silence.