Adoption: Neat & Tidy? Not So Much!

Hello everyone. My name is Jessica Davis. My husband and I adopted from Uganda in 2015.  I would like to share my thoughts regarding a memory that appeared on my facebook timeline.

If you are at all familiar with timehop on facebook you know that almost daily either a photo, video or post from your past will show up on your timeline giving you the opportunity to reflect and share.  Well, today this is the photo that popped up for me.

Four years ago today, we found out Namata’s visa was approved to come to America with us. As westerners, we tend to love pictures like this when it comes to adoption and in some ways that is understandable. If Namata had actually needed to be adopted, it would’ve definitely been a photo worth getting excited over!

The problem is that all too often, we want things to be just like this picture. Everyone smiling and things wrapped up neat and tidy. But real life, even in this moment pictured here, things aren’t always as they seem. Adam and I were definitely happy in this moment and ready to be home and begin our life together, and on the outside Namata was too. But on the inside, she was about to leave everything and everyone familiar to her, for reasons she was too overwhelmed by to even question. Thankfully, over the next year she was able to express to Adam and I her questions about how she ended up being adopted. Thankfully, Adam and I didn’t go looking for the answers we wanted to hear. We chose a road that was definitely filled with uncertainty, but one we hoped would lead us to the truth. Namata deserved that!

Intercountry adoption should never be about doing a good deed in the world or becoming a mom or dad. Yes, those reasons are normal and usually are the basis for beginning the process, but at the point when one begins the process to adopt, we need to recognize that those feelings are all about the adoptive parents and not the child or children we are hoping to adopt. Adoption for them stems from a complete loss of everything and everyone familiar to them. Recognizing this is vital to a healthy adoption process. I’m convinced we, as a society, have made adoption all about becoming a family. When we do this we tend to see adoption in this happy light that doesn’t allow the adoptee the freedom to express what adoption actually is for them — loss. There should be absolutely no focus on becoming “mom” or “dad”. While I do believe it can become a natural outcome through a healthy adoption scenario, I believe it needs to come when, and only if, the child feels that connection.

I often get asked how Adam and I did what we did when we chose to reunite Namata with her family in Uganda. While there are several factors that contributed to being able to do this, the main reason was that Adam and I had both committed to meeting the needs of Namata. Finding out that she had a loving mother and family that she was unlawfully taken from, made the decision for us. As a parent I could never have lived with myself knowing I was contributing to the Ugandan sized hole in Namata’s heart. Her family and culture should never have been taken away from her in the first place. I’m eternally grateful now looking back that even in the midst of our heartache in losing one of the most amazing little girls I’ve ever met, we were given the opportunity to make things right!

Currently, there is no legal precedent for situations like ours. There are kids here in America that have been kidnapped, their families lied to, and their adoptions produced from bribes and manipulation. There are families in Uganda, and all over the world that hope daily, just see their children, siblings, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.One way to address this madness is by fighting for intercountry adoption laws to be reformed. Another way is to help change the narrative behind intercountry adoption. Within our churches, social circles and places of business, we need to recognize that intercountry adoption has become infiltrated with money and greed. When we read the statistics that say 80-90% of children in orphanages overseas have families, we need to be doing more to ensure we aren’t contributing to a system that is actually tearing families apart. There are many Facebook groups and websites that delve into the intricacies behind intercountry adoption. Join these groups and visit these pages to learn. Appeal to legislators for change and become a person that stands up against these horrible miscarriages of justice.

About Jessica

6 Replies to “Adoption: Neat & Tidy? Not So Much!”

  1. Thanks for your willingness to publicly share your family’s story, for putting Namata’s needs first and for continuing to advocate for change, including helping prospective adoptive families to become more aware of these issues and advocating for improved safeguards, checks and processes to be put in place.

  2. Thank you for shining a light on the injustices not only in international adoption, but in adoption at large. As an adopted person, I’m encouraged by your acknowledgment of the loss and your willingness to put Namata’s needs first.

    It’s important to understand that corruption, manipulation, lies, and even kidnapping happen in domestic infant adoption as well. It’s proven that maternal separation causes trauma for infants, literally altering the brain chemistry for life. Yet, it’s celebrated. Mothers need support to parent, not to be exploited for profit.

    Thank you for doing the right thing for Namata. Please continue to speak out about the reality of the adoption trafficking industry. We must change the narrative and put the focus on family preservation.

  3. We did the same thing in Guatemala, in 2008. It makes me sick nothing has changed. The child we wanted to adopt was essentially trafficked, using swapped DNA (as were thousands of others who are now in the US). No one cared. We still support her and her family. You did the right thing. And we know there isn’t much support in most adoption circles. Reach out if you ever want to talk.

  4. Thank you for bringing this to the publics attention. This happens to US parents as well. The adoption business is about providing parents (with money) children rather than doing what is best for the adult that the child will become. Women who are struggling to parent need help, not someone to take their children and leave them right where they are. That’s not help that is exploitation.

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