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23 notes (via glittergeek & theredtree)
The Indian Adoption Project was a federal program that acquired Indian children with the help of the prestigious Child Welfare League of America; a successor organization, the Adoption Resource Exchange of North America[…]
“People have heard of the boarding-school era and know it was bad, but they don’t know our adoption era even exists,” said White Hawk, who was taken from her family on the Rosebud reservation.
Two Native people interviewed prior to the summit said they were separated from their families after hospital stays as young children, one for a rash, the other for tuberculosis. A third was seized at his baby-sitter’s home; when his mother tried to rescue him, she was jailed, he said. A fourth recalled that he was taken after his father died, though his mother did not want to give him up. A fifth adoptee described being snatched, along with siblings, because his grandfather was a medicine man who wouldn’t give up his traditional ways.
“Indians had no way to stop white people from taking their kids,” said yet another interviewee. “We had no rights.”
The aim was assimilation and extinction of the tribes as entities, as their younger generations were removed, year after year—just as it had been with the boarding schools, said White Hawk on the Association on American Indian Affairs report.
“We can’t be afraid to use words like genocide,” said summit participant Anita Fineday, White Earth Band of Ojibwe, managing director of Casey Family Programs’ Indian child-welfare programs and a former chief judge at White Earth Tribal Nation. “The endgame, the official federal policy, was that the tribes wouldn’t exist.”
As many as ONE THIRD of all Native children in North America were separated from their families between 1941 and 1967, according to a report by the Association on American Indian Affairs.
[TRIGGER WARNING] From Australia to Spain, Ireland to America[…] young mothers say they were “coerced”, “manipulated”, and “duped” into handing over their babies for adoption. These women say sometimes their parents forged consent documents, but more often they say these forced adoptions were coordinated by the people their families trusted most…priests, nuns, social workers, nurses, or doctors.
Last month, a Dan Rather Reports producer and crew were in Canberra, Australia as Parliament released the findings of an 18-month-long investigation revealing illegal and unethical tactics used to convince young, unmarried mothers to surrender their babies to adoptive homes from the late 1940s to the 1980s. And we interviewed some of the victims — adoptees and mothers separated at birth.
In some cases, mothers in Australia were drugged and forced to sign papers relinquishing custody. In others, women were told their children had died.
Single mothers also did not have access to the financial support given to widows or abandoned wives, and many were told by doctors, nurses, and social workers that they were unfit to raise a child. Senator Rachel Siewert, who oversaw the Australian Senate Committee Report, says, “We heard practices that were either illegal or unethical and downright cruel.”
Two weeks ago, a prominent Canadian law firm announced that it would file a class-action lawsuit against Quebec’s Catholic Church accusing the Church of kidnapping, fraud and coercion to force unwed mothers to give up their children for adoption.
Attorney Tony Merchant represents several hundred women who claim that when they were in maternity homes in the 1950s and 1960s, social workers, nurses, doctors, and even men and women in the employ of the Catholic Church cooperated with Canadian government officials to force or, even coerce, young women to sign away their rights to keep their child never knowing they even had a choice.
In Spain, an 80-year-old nun, Sister Maria Gómez, became the first person accused of baby snatching in a scandal over the trafficking of 1,500 newborns in Spanish hospitals over four decades until the 1980s. The babies were either stolen, sold or given away by adoption.
The two most respected books on the subject of “forced adoptions,” Ann Fessler’s The Girls Who Went Away and Rickie Solinger’s Beggars and Choosers indicate that the tactics used to procure adoptable babies in Australia, Ireland, Canada and Spain were also implemented in the United States.
We have interviewed numerous women in the U.S. who told us that they were sent to maternity homes, denied contact with their families and friends, forced to endure labor with purposely painful procedures and return home without their babies. Single, American mothers were also denied financial support and told that their children would be better off without them.
In some cases, they too were told that their babies had died. Many signed away their rights while drugged and exhausted after childbirth. Others were threatened with substantial medical bills if they didn’t surrender or were manipulated through humiliation. According to Fessler, these seemingly unethical practices were used against as many as 1.5 million mothers in the United States.
When we asked these women who say they were victims of “forced adoption” to use one word to describe their experience giving birth, here’s what they told us:
“Sad,” states Angie from Colorado, who says at age 19 her pregnancy was kept an absolute secret and that she disappeared before her infant daughter was put up for adoption against her will in 1972. “Sad,” also states Chris from Massachusetts, who gave up her firstborn through Catholic Charities in 1969.
“Trauma,” states Valerie from Toronto who says in 1970 a Salvation Army matron at the Bethany Home for unwed mothers dropped her off at Grace Hospital in Toronto to labor alone. While crying out in pain during labor, she says a nurse called her a “slut.”
Originally published in Foreign Policy, November 1, 2008
We all know the story of international adoption: Millions of infants and toddlers have been abandoned or orphaned — placed on the side of a road or on the doorstep of a church, or left parentless due to AIDS, destitution, or war. These little ones find themselves forgotten, living in crowded orphanages or ending up on the streets, facing an uncertain future of misery and neglect. But, if they are lucky, adoring new moms and dads from faraway lands whisk them away for a chance at a better life.
Unfortunately, this story is largely fiction.
Westerners have been sold the myth of a world orphan crisis. We are told that millions of children are waiting for their “forever families” to rescue them from lives of abandonment and abuse. But many of the infants and toddlers being adopted by Western parents today are not orphans at all[…] and there’s too much Western money in search of children. As a result, many international adoption agencies work not to find homes for needy children but to find children for Western homes.
Since the mid-1990s, the number of international adoptions each year has nearly doubled, from 22,200 in 1995 to just under 40,000 in 2006. At its peak, in 2004, more than 45,000 children from developing countries were adopted by foreigners[…]
Where do these babies come from? As international adoptions have flourished, so has evidence that babies in many countries are being systematically bought, coerced, and stolen away from their birth families. Nearly half the 40 countries listed by the U.S. State Department as the top sources for international adoption over the past 15 years — places such as Belarus, Brazil, Ethiopia, Honduras, Peru, and Romania — have at least temporarily halted adoptions or been prevented from sending children to the United States because of serious concerns about corruption and kidnapping. And yet when a country is closed due to corruption, many adoption agencies simply transfer their clients’ hopes to the next “hot” country. That country abruptly experiences a spike in infants and toddlers adopted overseas — until it too is forced to shut its doors.
Along the way, the international adoption industry has become a market often driven by its customers. Prospective adoptive parents in the United States will pay adoption agencies between $15,000 and $35,000 (excluding travel, visa costs, and other miscellaneous expenses) for the chance to bring home a little one. Special needs or older children can be adopted at a discount. Agencies claim the costs pay for the agency’s fee, the cost of foreign salaries and operations, staff travel, and orphanage donations. But experts say the fees are so disproportionately large for the child’s home country that they encourage corruption.
To complicate matters further, while international adoption has become an industry driven by money, it is also charged with strong emotions. Many adoption agencies and adoptive parents passionately insist that crooked practices are not systemic, but tragic, isolated cases. Arrest the bad guys, they say, but let the “good” adoptions continue. However, remove cash from the adoption chain, and, outside of China, the number of healthy babies needing Western homes all but disappears. Nigel Cantwell, a Geneva-based consultant on child protection policy, has seen the dangerous influence of money on adoptions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where he has helped reform corrupt adoption systems. In these regions, healthy children age 3 and younger can easily be adopted in their own countries, he says. I asked him how many healthy babies in those regions would be available for international adoption if money never exchanged hands. “I would hazard a guess at zero,” he replied.
There are a couple of problematic instances and flat out errors in this article that I’ve cut, but overall it provides as good a “nutshell” introduction for outsiders to the dynamics of the international adoption industry as any.
I’ll be posting other article excerpts throughout the week, might provide firsthand commentary if I’m not too fatigued.
Veil of secrecy lifts slowly on decades of forced adoptions for unwed mothers around the globe.
Most women describe giving birth to a child as a life changing experience – in a word – “challenging”, “joyous”, “miraculous.” But generations of young, unwed women describe their experience of giving birth to a child as a nightmare – and decades later their suffering has yet to end.
From Australia to Spain, Ireland to America, and as recent as 1987, young mothers say they were “coerced”, “manipulated”, and “duped” into handing over their babies for adoption. These women say sometimes their parents forged consent documents, but more often they say these forced adoptions were coordinated by the people their families trusted most…priests, nuns, social workers, nurses or doctors.
3 notes (via mochente)