Featuring Joy & Geoff, Big Brother , Little Brother , Sis , and various household (and outdoor) critters...

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Ethics, International Adoption, & Transracial Families

While we haven't really had anyone express many concerns or questions around our plans to adopt internationally, and to adopt transracially, I'm sure that some of you reading this may have uneasy feelings, or may at least find it worthwhile to spend a moment considering some of the issues facing potential adoptive parents who are considering their decisions.

As I wrote previously, I have always wanted to adopt both internationally and transracially - I don't know if this desire is a childhood fantasy that has never been let go, or a calling of sorts, but it has deep roots, and certainly continues to feel like an appropriate and important thing for us to do. I know that our desires are shaped by our experiences, and also that they can reflect directions we are meant to follow. I think our experiences are not necessarily coincidental, and that they can act as means through which we recognize our paths in life.

Now, international and transracial adoption are not without critics. There are valid points to be made on both sides of the issues. Even advocates of both, strongly support the necessity of internationally and transracially-formed families to create family and social contexts that ensure children grow up with a strong sense of cultural identity and awareness of their roots. Concern about international and transracial adoption is expressed by those who wonder whether the "western" world is simply trying to be "trendy" in creating globally and racially diverse families through adoption (i.e., following what is seen by some as a celebrity trend), and by those who feel it is always best for children to grow up in their culture of origin, and at the very least, their race of origin. Advocates of both international and transracial adoption argue that, for now, some countries are not equipped to fully meet the needs of their orphans by having them grow up in nuclear family units in-country, and that international adoption provides a means for meeting children's basic needs to have a home and parents of their own. Research does support that children who grow up in nuclear families do better in various areas of physical, social, and emotional development than children who grown up in (even stable) foster and/or group living environments.

Knowing that adopted children, even in transracial families, and even when adopted from another country, generally become healthy, well-adjusted adults, makes us comfortable pursuing this option, with the awareness that it will be essential for our children to be exposed to elements of their culture (i.e., traditions, music, food, social networks) in order to develop a strong identity and sense of wholeness. We believe that, globally, much needs to be done so that issues of poverty, AIDS, and other factors influencing the need for adoption, are reduced. In the end, we know that adoption is a best solution for an imperfect situation - both in meeting the needs of children in Ontario and abroad. Ideally, all biological parents would have the necessary inner and social resources to raise their children. Ideally, all countries would be able to support adoption of children in need within their own culture. We believe that in committing to international adoption, we are also committing to supporting the needs of our children's country of origin, so that eventually children within that country do not need to be adopted out, and so that the need for adoption becomes no greater overall than in any other part of the world. For now, though, there are children living, and soon to be born, who will need a family. We believe that it is best for these children to become part of a nuclear family from the soonest possible moment, in order to promote healthy development and the ability to form loving, attached relationships. For now that means adoption, even international adoption.

So in the end, I think that both are true - international adoption is an important and necessary situation for now, AND, international adoption is not the ideal long-term solution to orphan issues. Transracial adoption has a place as well, when children would not otherwise become part of a nuclear family. And that is where I will stop for today - these are complex matters, with no tidy answers. I can respect arguments on both sides of the issues. We are doing what we are confident is a good and right thing - for us - at this point in time. I certainly have not presented (and am most definitely not fully versed in) a comprehensive discussion of relevant ethical and social issues influencing matters of international and transracial adoption, but hopefully these comments are in some way a valuable response and introduction...

No comments: