Month: January 2010

International Adoption: Bought a Chinese Baby Lately?

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If you have recently adopted from China, here is further proof that children are being trafficked expressly for the purposes of international adoption:

Five other orphanages opened nearby and were making the same request. By 2000, however, the supply of babies was drying up …

“Rising incomes, changing attitudes toward girls and weaker enforcement of the one-child policy had combined to stem the widespread dumping of baby girls. Besides, pregnant women who were insistent on a boy would determine the gender with ultrasound (illegal, but common just the same) and abort female fetuses …

“But foreign adoptions were in full swing, with more than 5,000 babies heading to the United States in 2000 alone …

“Instead of turning over extra babies to the orphanages in Guangdong, Liang preferred to sell them to traffickers who would pay more to take them to Hunan or adjacent Jianxi province, which also supplied many of the babies adopted in the United States. The Duans say that in addition to the 85 babies she provided them, Liang sold more than 1,000 to orphanages …

“The orphanages disguised the origins of the babies, the Duans said. … “They would fabricate the information. They would say that the baby was found at the Sunday market, near the bridge, on the street. Very few of the stories they put in the babies’ files were true. Only the director of the orphanage knew the babies were really from Guangdong,” Duan’s father said …

“The Chinese government acknowledges that each year 30,000 to 60,000 children go missing, most of them abducted.

“The Los Angeles Times reported in September that local family planning officials in Guizhou and Hunan provinces sometimes confiscated babies from families that had violated the one-child policy and then collected money by selling the children for foreign adoption. “

As they say, “follow the money.”   Where there is a market demand, little regulation, and the ability to exploit a “source of product” (in this case, mothers who have just given birth),  is it any wonder that this type of unethical activity occurs?

Not only that, but that Western society denies it turns a blind eye to it the same way it did when unwed mothers were herded into maternity facilities to give birth and be stripped of their babies?   Tied down and drugged while their babies were taken away from them?

A culture which condoned this systemic abduction of White children in Canada and the U.S., of course is going to turn a blind eye to Asian children overseas.  North Americans should be ashamed of themselves.

There are other articles as well about the trade in Chinese babies.  This is not an isolated incident. Such as “Chinese crackdown nets thousands of ‘stolen’ children – As many as 60,000 children missing each year” This article states that “The girls are often sold … to agencies that arrange foreign adoptions.”  But this is not the only story — there are also these articles:

Yet adoption agencies across Canada market these babies very legally, as the Canadian government turns a blind eye to human trafficking for adoption purposes.  But I guess, as they say, “The customer is always right” — or at least has the most power in the whole equation.  And the collective financial and political power that backs the adoption industry — an industry fuelled by intense and well-monied market demand for babies and marketed as “a noble deed” — is something that it looks like governments are willing to acquiesce to.

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Human Rights, Motherhood, Reproductive Exploitation … and Adoption

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This is a post about human rights.   Rights that we all enjoy because, well, we are human beings and not tadpoles, buttercups, or granite slabs.  We are born human, and in a special position in the world even if we share most of our DNA with a host of other similar creatures.

Humans have the ability to commit both magnificent acts of good and terrible acts of evil.  In the mid-20th century, the world was recovering from a horrific world war and related events of genocide and destruction, which had ripped apart families and left much death and suffering in their wake.

A coalition of “civilized” nations swore that this evil should never happen again, and worked to create what became the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,  adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations ion December 10, 1948.

Included in the Universal Declaration are rights that are belong inherently to all living human beings.  They include rights to dignity and equality, the right to be free from slavery, and the right to equal protection of the law.  Also included in the Universal Declaration are rights  that protect even the most vulnerable of our citizens  from systemic cruelty and exploitation.  Rights that our governments try to conveniently forget.

A mother and her child together are one of the  most precious and yet are often the most vulnerable families in any society.  Vulnerable, that is, because in some cultures, they are rendered without protection from external forces that work to separate them. In many patriarchal nations, a mother is often only certain that she will be able to keep her baby if:  (1) she is married and thus financially/socially protected by a man, or (2) she has sufficient status  in the employment market such that she can independently support her baby by herself.

Men and women are equal, but due to biology they are very different, an example being when two people of the opposite sex make love.  The man can walk away from his responsibility for any resulting child — he may not even know he is a father.  The woman cannot walk away.  She must deal with the consequences in a directly personal way.  During her pregnancy,  social sanctions limit not only her options, but stigmatize her into solutions that society either provides or withholds from her.  A baby is a part of her body for nine months, and that experience is one she can never walk away from.

To be a woman means the inherent capability (or implied capacity) to create and give birth to a child.

“Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart walking around outside your body.” – Elizabeth Stone

Human rights factor into the experience of every woman who becomes pregnant.   Firstly, human rights are universal, guaranteed to all human beings.  Article 2 of the Universal Declaration states:

“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Article 16 states:

“The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” A mother and her child together is a family. There can be no doubt, and no argument, about this. They thus have the right to protection by society and the state.

But perhaps most explicit is Article 25, which states:

“(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. 2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.”

This explicitly provides every family — every mother and her child — with the support and means required to keep them together, as a basic human right.   It also means that women have the right to social protection, the right to keep their children, without having to be the “social property” of a man  (did you know that until very recently, in many areas the birth certificates of the children of unmarried mothers were stamped “Illegitimate”?).   It means that marriage is not required to “legitimize” a woman fulfilling the natural function of her body, a natural function of being a woman:  giving birth to her child.  Marriage or at least a long-term parental commitment from both partners is indeed the ideal situation, but for many mothers it is just not feasible or possible.

This Declaration agreed to in 1948 protects all mothers and their children.  It provides mothers with rights such that no mother need be forced by poverty, coercion, or social pressure to surrender her baby for adoption. Every mother has the right to protection and social support for herself and her child as a family unit such that horrific trauma of surrender, the coerced separation from her infant,  is not inflicted upon her.

“Almost everyone believes that on some level, [mothers] made a choice to give their babies away. Here, I argue that adoption is rarely about mothers’ choices; it is, instead, about the abject choicelessness of some resourceless women.” (Solinger, 2001).

It is clear that if the basic human rights of ALL mothers were respected, protected, and codified into the laws of each nation, that there would be far fewer unnecessary adoptions.  Fewer families would be destroyed, fewer mothers would be forced to surrender their beloved infants, and the world would be a far more ethical and safe place for mothers who are giving birth — mothers left vulnerable to the  adoption industry because their human rights have been violated.

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References:

  • “Elizabeth Stone Quotes” at http://thinkexist.com/quotes/elizabeth_stone
  • Solinger, R. (2001). Beggars and choosers – How the politics of choice shapes adoption, abortion, and welfare in the United States. New York: Hill & Wang.

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Origins Canada – check it out! :)

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I’m absolutely thrilled to share a very special link with you, the new Origins Canada website:

Origins Canada: Supporting Those Separated by Adoption

http://www.originscanada.org/