Friday, December 9, 2011

Who boycotts greeting cards?

There’s been a strange battle in the adoption community against UNICEF. This holiday season there is even a boycott being staged for people to not buy UNICEF holiday cards as a way to show how angry adoptive parents are at UNICEF’s position on inter country adoption which you can read in full here.

Now, I’ve read the statement. It basically states that intercountry adoption should be the absolute last resort for children. It encourages family permanency, recognizing that the first choice for children should be to stay with their family of origin or at least in their country of origin instead of being removed and sent to another country. It clearly supports the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. The statement points out that over the last 30 years the amount of adoptions from typically poorer “sending” countries to typically wealthier “receiving” countries has grown and with that growth has come corruption and fraud and basically adoption has turned from being a last resort into an adoption industry.

I do not disagree with a single point that UNICEF is making. So the fact that an adoptive parent from the US is writing articles calling for a boycott of UNICEF’s holiday cards based on their position on intercountry adoption really aggravates me. The author, Andrea Poe, even goes so far as to call the position that UNICEF is taking “radical” and “against orphans.” Really? Radical? The fact that UNICEF is clearly calling for support of these children in their own countries of origin is radical? I wonder how many people are taking the time to read the full statement. How many adoptive parents might actually agree with the radical statement if they did take the time to read it?

We all want what is best for our children. For some of those children it means that their families needed to place them outside of their homes. For some of those children it means that they are best served by being adopted outside of their birth countries. But for all of these children staying in their family of origin should be the preferred plan, it just isn’t always possible.

I love my son. And I am so lucky that he was placed in our home. But I think of his first family, so far away from him. And I know that his birth father would have been overjoyed if someone had said to him, “Here, you don’t need to relinquish him. We’ll come up with a plan to make it possible for you to buy formula and we’ll come up with a way for him to stay at a care center during the day while you work so you can have him with you at home when you’re not working. We’ll find a way to preserve your family so you and your other 2 children don’t have to experience another tremendous loss.” I believe that is what UNICEF is advocating for and I find nothing radical or boycott worthy about it. And I also think it’s pretty disgusting that any adoptive parent would not be doing the same work that UNICEF is doing, inching towards a day when families have more options and where preservation replaces the big business of adoption.


Carole Hill said...

It is so great to read your thoughts and based on facts; it presented the dilemma people of the world, who want to adopt, have when adopting a child from another country. You are very cognitive of your duties and responsibilities to this child of the world and I'm sure he will be given all the information about his homeland and be able to make good decisions when he is grown. Love doesn't really know boundaries and hopefully the world will start to GET IT.

David Leventhal said...

I suppose much of this particular facet of adoption comes down to how you prioritize what's most important. I personally place permanency above country of origin. If you can get both - that's a bonus. If not I'll defer to permanency every time. I don't consider a foster system, on orphanage (whether institutional or "family style") to represent a permanent solution for a child. I believe you would say the same thing. I also believe UNICEF says the same thing.

But I think it’s helpful for us to remember that there is a difference between having a statement or a creed as to what an organization says it supports and then what actually happens on the ground. Having had the opportunity to travel quite a bit (specifically in countries with lots of orphans & vulnerable children) - I've seen firsthand the differences between statements on websites & in annual reports & actual on the ground policies. And I do believe there is a disconnect between what UNICEF says they want to do and what's actually happening in certain countries. I don’t believe is systemic across the organization but I’ve seen it happen nonetheless.

I'm also a bit surprised that you are so put out with someone boycotting something they firmly believe to be wrong (irrespective of whether you agree with them or not). I figured you'd be for people standing up for things they believe to be a violation of their conscience. I’ve got no problems with you disagreeing with her position….but wouldn’t you do the same thing if there was something you were passionate about?

Lastly...I think it's also important to remember that no matter where you fall on UNICEF's policies - the adoption process is riddled with loss and pain. That being the case emotions tend to run really high when you get people in a room to dialogue on “the best way” to care for kids. There are no easy answers or solutions....though that doesn't mean we shouldn't fight to see that children/teens get an opportunity to experience permanency with a family. It just means there are going to be lots of different opinions...though to be honest, my hunch is that if you and the writer of that article were to get in the same room you'd probably agree on more issues than you disagree ( it relates to adoption/orphan care).

Melanie said...

I don't disagree with what you've written David. I know that a written statement can often be far from what actually happens on the ground, a daily occurance in US policies alone. And actions get even further removed from statements when you look at the complexities of adoption work in various developing nations, intersected with government policies, NGO policies, etc.

I think Poe and I would probably have similar views on many things when it comes to adoption but I think that what she's calling for is dangerous. I wholeheartedly agree with the concept of boycotts, I boycott all kinds of things myself. But I disagree with this particular boycott and would only ask that adoptive parents take the time to look at the statement and some of the great things that UNICEF has done before they blindly follow Poe and her call for a boycott or just cut and paste her article on FB.

David Leventhal said...

"would only ask that __________ take the time to look at the statement and some of the great things that _______ has done before they blindly follow ___________ and her call for a boycott or just cut and paste her article on FB"

Isn't this the danger in any boycott? That people will simply follow along b/c they like the person spearheading it? Or because they think they agree with the issues?

Melanie said...

Yes, absolutely.

Except, of course, when I boycott something. Because I know how crappy Wal-Mart and Starbucks are (Yes, I wrote Starbucks, don't judge me).