Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Guest post by ABI Executive Director, Lucy Armistead: Seeking the TRUTH

As many readers have heard there has been quite the scandal brewing in Haiti with regard to adoptions being processed by an American run crèche.  I have been in Haiti with ABI’s Haiti Coordinator, Diana Boni, since October 7, 2013.  We were joined by several families who had been attempting to adopt or previously worked with the above mentioned crèche.  Diana requested that I write a guest post to explain a bit about what we have been doing while in Haiti. 

While ABI cannot attest to the accuracy of the stories that have been circulating about Giving Hope Rescue Mission (www.speakoutaboutgivinghoperescuemission.blogspot.com), we are quite concerned about the information we have received – much of which is not reflected on the above blog.  Adoptions are inherently scary, stressful and complex – the multitude of emotions experienced within the adoption process are profound and cannot be comprehended by those who have not “been there, done that”.  But one experience families should never encounter is fear of asking questions or fear of making the adoption “facilitator” angry!  Adoptive families are very likely to feel helpless and out of control during an adoption – the waiting stinks!  I get it – I’ve been there.  And when you are in that position you need support and compassion – not fear.

Having worked in adoptions since 1999, I have seen my fair share of bad/unethical practices within adoptions.  Sometimes those practices are done by naïve adoptive families who have not given full thought to the implications of offering financial support to a biological family.  Make no mistake there are anthropological changes that are made within a community when a child leaves home, is adopted abroad and then that child’s other birth siblings are suddenly able to attend school or other obvious changes occur to the family of origin’s socio economic situation. This can lead to another community member relinquishing a child for adoption abroad anticipating the same type of benefits – either way it changes the fabric of the community.  Please understand I am far from anti adoption.  Each and every day new advances are made that change the fabric of communities – we are constantly evolving and changing – sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.  Regardless though, these impacts must be acknowledged and considered as assessment is completed. 

Changing a community is delicate work that must be handled with cultural sensitivity, respect and caution.  Unfortunately, international adoption has often been handled in exact opposite ways.  Although we are focusing on the stories told in relation to the GHRM story (stories that we did not personally experience) – similar things have happened in countries all over the world throughout history.  In this particularly case, an American woman is alleged to have paid for children, lied to biological families about where the children would be, how long they would be there, the purposes of adoption, as well as made threats, buried bodies on property without appropriate investigation by the authorities, etc, etc.  The stories being relayed are gut wrenching and truly the most horrific allegations of bad practices I have heard. Ever.

For years I have envisioned a project that could convey the TRUTH about adoption practices- the reasons international adoptions are needed as an option for children, the ways cases can be completed ethically and with integrity, the grey areas that practitioners and parents must confront, the limitations to our current practices, ideas for increasing transparency and how to make things better.  Talking about adoption becomes a tangled mess of nuances involving – child development, family development, anthropological impact, mental health, socio-economic factors, women’s rights and empowerment, governmental authority, sociology, psychology, financial impact and on and on.  From the tragic circumstances of families confronting GHRM, it has opened up the door to the TRUTH project envisioned by ABI years ago.  A videographer accompanied us to Haiti and was able to film the stories of the families who are speaking out about their experience with GHRM.  Our video film project is intended to educate families and the general public on red flags in adoptions, how adoption work can be done well and a second video will be used as a training tool for adoption professionals to help accredited agency staff choose partners overseas with integrity, identify signs of problems, and gather resources and relationships to help advise when questionable practices are apparent.

We hope you will support us in this endeavor.  Donations are always appreciated and tax deductible.  ABI does a lot more than adoption work.  We take great pride in the advocacy we provide and plan to continue to provide.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Translation of the new adoption law

ABI is pleased to present a translation of the draft of the new adoption law as given to us by the US and Haitian governments.  To read the translated law in full, please go to our website.

Please note that the law will come into effect only after it is signed by the President, and published in Le Moniteur.  Only the exact text published in Le Moniteur can be considered a final version of the new law.