förbi Jessica Davis, USA adoptivmamma till Uganda dotter återvände till biologisk familj, grundare av Kugatta.
Runt jul och nyår får jag träffa min tidigare adopterade dotter och hennes familj och varje gång påminns jag om allt som nästan var förlorat. Jag ser dem tillsammans, glada och blomstrande och jag blir påmind om hur kraftfullt det kan vara att investera i andras liv.
Som någon som har deltagit i och bevittnat de negativa effekterna av adoption mellan länder samt drivit en ideell organisation som hjälper familjer som har separerats från sin älskade via denna praxis, kan jag berätta att det har orsakat otroligt mycket skada. De flesta ugandiska familjer vilseleds eller tvingas att separera från sitt barn. Det är vanligtvis när en familj går igenom en svår tid som de tillfrågas om att tillfälligt placera sitt barn på ett barnhem (medan de kommer på fötter igen) bara för att aldrig se sitt barn igen. Efter separationen förbättras aldrig familjens välbefinnande och försörjning och traumat från att separeras är oöverstigligt. Den skada som den adopterade tillfogas genom att placeras på ett barnhem, separerad från sin familj, kultur och land orsakar irreparabel skada och hjärtesorgen som tillfogas familjemedlemmarna som vilseleds är överlägsen.
På pappret trodde vi att Namata behövde adopteras men dessa papper var fyllda med lögner. Den typen av lögner som finns i de flesta internationella adoptionspapper. Lögner som väcker förhöjda känslor som får blivande adoptivföräldrar att omedvetet (och ibland medvetet) förstöra en familj som aldrig borde ha separerats från början. Varje gång jag får träffa Namata och hennes familj ser jag hur det verkligen ser ut att träda bredvid en familj i nöd. Att ta Namata från sin familj hjälpte ingen. Att hålla ihop dem har hjälpt på alla tänkbara sätt.
Så många säger att de adopterar internationellt för att hjälpa ett barn i nöd, men vi måste vara villiga att gå längre än detta. När du får veta att 4 av 5 barn som bor på barnhem har familjer de skulle kunna åka hem till, varför är inte vår första åtgärd att försöka återförena eller försörja en familj? Kan du föreställa dig om våra kyrkor bad om donationer till familjestöd och inte donationer till barnhem? Kan du föreställa dig effekten? Jag kan för jag har sett det. Jag har också sett förödelsen av en ovilja att lyssna och förändra i detta avseende.
Om du verkligen bryr dig om utsatta barn i utvecklingsländer kommer du att göra det hårda arbetet för att säkerställa att utsatta barn får växa upp i familjen de föddes in i. Om du vill investera i familjer som är sårbara för att separeras i onödan, överväg att donera till organisationer som är engagerade i att bevara familjer. jag började Kugattamed min kollega i Uganda av just denna anledning.
Jag säger inte att all adoption är dålig eller fel, men jag KOMMER att säga att det internationella adoptionssystemet orsakar mycket mer skada än det hjälper. Vi måste hela tiden fråga oss själva om det "bra" vi gör faktiskt orsakar skada och när vi inser att det är det, sluta och ändra vad vi gör. När vi vet bättre gör vi det bättre.
Namata och hennes mamma gav mig tillåtelse att dela dessa bilder. De brinner lika mycket som jag för att sprida budskapet om familjebevarande. Deras berättelse är en kraftfull representation av detta. Som med alla saker vill jag inte sensationalisera återförening längre än att jag vill se adoption sensationaliseras. När en familj väl har slitits sönder kan traumat som orsakats inte tas bort. Ja det kan bli läkning och ja mycket av det som gick förlorat kan återställas men ärren från det som hände i det förflutna finns kvar.
Återförening är ett viktigt och nödvändigt steg i rätt riktning men det är inte alltid möjligt och det är verkligen inte alltid lätt eller "vackert" och det är alltid komplext. Jag driver en registrerad 501 c3 ideell organisation som arbetar för att återknyta, bevara och stärka familjer och adopterade i och från Uganda. Om du är intresserad av att donera till det arbete vi gör, följ länken här att göra så.
förbi Kris Rao, adopterad från Indien till USA, upptäckte nyligen deras adoption som en Late Discovery-adopterad.
Jag stötte på en indisk baserad podcast som heter The Filter Koffee Podcast med Karthik Nagarajan som värd. Han sitter med en gäst och har som han beskriver det ett samtal. "Sånt som gör dig rikare. Den sorten som bara kaffe kan få fram.”
Utan att gå in på för många detaljer om podcasten, här är några viktiga ämnen de gick över:
De olika system som har införts för barn i behov av vård. (Statliga system i Indien lanseras av regeringen för att ta itu med medborgarnas sociala och ekonomiska välfärd)
Pengarna/budgeten går till föräldralösa barn. Vilket motsvarar mindre än 1 rupier per dag och barn.
Det uppskattade antalet föräldralösa barn i Indien som rapporterats av UNICEF.
Hur barnhem drivs och hur många som ska inrättas i varje distrikt.
Vad händer med övergivna barn och deras liv som föräldralösa.
Skillnaderna mellan kvinnliga och manliga föräldralösa barn.
En av de saker som slog mig var det uppskattade antalet föräldralösa barn i Indien. Enligt UNICEF finns det 29,6 miljoner föräldralösa barn i Indien, cirka 30 miljoner.
Och som adopterad, som en av dessa så kallade sociala föräldralösa barn, var allt jag kunde tänka på när jag lyssnade på den här podden:
Varför har Indien 30 miljoner föräldralösa barn i första hand?
Vad gör mitt land som skapar det här problemet?
Vad gör mitt land för att förhindra detta?
För mig verkar det som att det största problemet inte bara är att vi har 30 miljoner föräldralösa barn i behov av vård, det är att vi har 60 miljoner föräldrar som gav upp och övergav sina barn. Och det händer fortfarande. Dessa siffror växer fortfarande.
Var är det samtalet?
Är det på grund av religion, kast? Vilka andra faktorer spelar in här?
Hur är det med reproduktiv rättvisa?
Jag är en av de miljoner sociala föräldralösa barn som har kommit ut från Indien. Och det får mig att fråga, är det för att min existens ger "skam" över min familj varför jag är föräldralös? Smutsar min existens familjenamnet?
Var min uppfattning så problematisk i ögonen på Indiens samhälle och kultur att min mamma kände sig tvungen att överge mig?
Jag skrev en gång att den enda anledningen till att jag adopterades är för att samhället på något sätt svikit min mamma och tvingade henne att fatta ett beslut som hon inte borde ha behövt från början.
Vad gör vi för att ändra på det?
Efter att ha lyssnat på podcasten förstår jag att det är viktigt att hjälpa föräldralösa barn i Indien och behöver uppmärksamhet. Jag har själv bott i Indien i 11 år och besökt barnhem, ja, jag förstår det.
Jag tycker att det är viktigt att varje barn tas om hand. Men varför inkluderar det att skilja dem från deras familjer? Varför ska ett barn förlora alla juridiska band till sina första och biologiska föräldrar och familjer (inklusive utökade anhöriga) för att helt enkelt kunna tas om hand?
Och viktigast av allt, vad gör vi för de "sociala föräldralösa barnen" som nu är vuxna som vill veta sina sanna rötter? Tillgång till våra anor, historia osv.
Hur kan vi ta bort detta stigma och tabu som jag hela tiden hör om adoption i Indien?
Som framgår av titeln säger Poulomi att föräldralösa barn från Indien blir föräldralösa två gånger. "En gång genom att vara föräldralösa till sina föräldrar och en gång genom att vara föräldralösa till staten eller lagens föräldralösa."
För internationella adopterade som jag själv, känns det som om Indien övergav mig en tredje gång när det skickade iväg mig för att vara ett annat lands problem.
De olyckliga och obefogade omständigheterna som gjorde mig till en av Indiens "sociala föräldralösa barn" satte mig på en väg att bli adopterad.
Och genom att bli adopterad tog det inte bara bort mina val utan det tog också bort mina chanser att hitta mina rötter.
by Mary Choi Robinson, adopted from South Korea to the USA.
This is Choi Soon Kyu.
She is about 4 years old in this picture and recently orphaned and sick from the ravages of poverty.
Before this picture was taken she had a prior life and was someone’s child, someone’s daughter with most likely a different name.
About 8 months after this picture on February 18, she will be delivered to the US, be given a new identity and family; a new life that is foreign, scary, and imposed upon her. Her name will be changed and she will lose her language and culture to new ones.
Her three identities, her three lives, are borne of trauma and loss. She is now me and I survive every day from all she lost.
Don’t tell me to be thankful or grateful, or that every child deserves a safe, loving family and home.
Instead try to understand that I carry this unbearable grief and loss every day. A grief that is not worse but unlike other grief that cannot always be easily expressed. A grief I’m not certain how to mourn and will most likely never recover from, that may have generational consequences.
Some days I struggle more than others, especially when unexpectedly blindsided by adoption.
So today is not just the anniversary of my adoption/arrival to the US, but also an anniversary of loss. But I’m still here and doing the best I can making the most of this life, so I’ll celebrate that.
förbi Lina Vanegas adopted from Colombia to the USA.You can follow Lina on Instagram @linaleadswithlove or on Twitter @LinaLeadsWLove
When we talk about adoption it’s important that we are honest and transparent and avoid sugar coating things or inserting toxic positivity or adoption propaganda.
The reality is that many people do not truly understand adoption, what it it entails, what it is and the impacts, trauma, grief and loss.
To break it down, I was bought and sold in 1976. I lost everything and my identity was erased. This is heartbreaking and devastating to me. It’s hard to wrap my head around it. I can’t honestly fathom how this could have happened. The tragic thing is that I am one of millions. Yes M I L L I O N S. There are an estimated 7 million adopted and displaced people and the number is growing. 2 million of us are intercountry adopted.
I just saw a comment on Facebook last night that was commending a white adoptive parent for sharing a positive adoptive story and they also stated we need more positive adoption stories. If positive is what you want then adoption is not the topic to equate with it. There is always trauma, grief and loss with adoption no matter the circumstances. This is a given and guarantee. When we talk about adoption, we must be honest about what it entails. It’s not beautiful, a fairytale, rainbows, sprinkles and unicorns.
I was bought and sold in 1976. This is my lived experience.
förbi Jessica Davis, American adoptive mum who returned her Ugandan child to her biological mother in Uganda.Jessica has written this post in response to the recent “guilty” plea of staff working at the adoption agency European Adoption Consultants (Ohio) who facilitated the illicit adoption of Ugandan adoptee to the Davis family. Media article här.
It has been many years since uncovering the horrible truth that the little girl we adopted from Uganda had been unlawfully separated from her family. Since reuniting Namata back with her mother, I have been waiting for some semblance of justice and accountability, especially when it came to this particular individual.
Today, Debra Parris, one of the criminals involved in trafficking Namata changed her plea to guilty on every federal indictment she was charged with. Debra was a willing participant in trafficking children from Uganda through intercountry adoption. She caused irreparable harm to Namata, her Ugandan mother and made our lives miserable for years as we sought to expose her and her co-conspirators. She has inflicted massive amounts of harm on MANY vulnerable Ugandan children and their families (and in many other countries I am sure).
Just hearing her voice today was overwhelming let alone hearing her finally admit guilt. Since coming to realize what happened within our adoption was not unique, I made the commitment to never waste an opportunity to work at changing the narrative when it comes to intercountry adoption. This moment will be no different.
To those who choose to believe that what happened to Namata and her mother is the result of just one “bad apple”, I beg of you to stop. I have been working with Ugandan families for over 5 years now and I can tell you that what happened to Namata and her family is not the exception, rather it is the rule in intercountry adoption. Every Ugandan family I have met, even the families that used other adoption agencies, have had similar experiences to share. None of the families of origin truly understood adoption, all of them were going through a difficult time and only needed support. Almost every one of them thought they were gaining access to an education or medical care for their loved one. I’m not saying that there aren’t exceptions, but I have yet to meet a Ugandan family who truly understood adoption.
As an adoptive parent, choosing to look the other way or to remain silent when it comes to these injustices makes YOU part of the problem. When I realized what was happening with our adoption agency, I immediately started speaking to other adoptive parents that had used them as well. I was told over and over that I was overreacting, that this couldn’t be true, or that at least it couldn’t be as “bad” as I was claiming. I have a feeling that even with this admission of guilt, many adoptive families will still say it’s just not true in their situation (which might very well be true) and go on with their lives, as if nothing happened.
This adoption agency facilitated the adoptions of over 30 Ugandan children. Today Debra Parris admitted to bribing probation officers, court registrars and judges in Uganda. She admitted to knowingly submitting fraudulent information to the US State Department in an effort to facilitate illicit adoptions. To assume this was not happening in other adoptions is not only naive but a grave miscarriage of justice.
How many birth families and adult adoptees have shared similar experiences? When will we start listening? When will enough families have been unnecessarily torn apart until we are willing to do something? When will the lives and welfare of these “orphans” matter to us beyond them being adopted?
While, I rejoiced today in this small step toward accountability for the wrongs perpetuated against many of the most vulnerable children and families in our world, I couldn’t help but think about all the Ugandan families (and families across the world) that this has happened to. Families that will likely never see justice or reparations, let alone the loved one they were separated from. I couldn’t help but think about all the adoptees that were handed off between families like trading cards. Adoptees that are silenced and ignored when they speak out about their experiences with adoption. I can’t help but think about all of the harm that has been unnecessarily inflicted on adoptees and birth families because this system seems far too easy to exploit and corrupt.
When is enough, enough?
For more from Jessica & her husband Adam, watch their interview with 1MillionHome Audacious Love
förbi Christina Soo Ja Massey, aka YooNett adopted from South Korea to the USA.
I shaved my Hair because of two Reasons: The upcoming Scottish Mental Health and Arts Festival in May 2021. My current state of declining Mental Health.
The Tears of Trauma I cried as a helpless Orphan in the past, I cry as an Adult throughout my entire Life.
I am an Overseas Korean Adoptee. Adoption is Not a Happy Ever After that some may try to make believe.
A homeless Overseas Korean Adoptee, telling of an Adoptive Family that does not discuss anything to do with his Adoption and previous Background. Loosing another Overseas Korean Adoptee through Suicide. Many Overseas Korean Adoptees who have been lied to about their past, present and Future. Many Suffering further Neglect or more Abuse of all Forms at the Hands of their Adopters. Just consider we have already experienced Traumas by loosing Birthparents in the first place.
In the 1970s and 80s Korea has been accused of child trafficking because of the increasing number of Korean Children sent Overseas for Adoption.
The Picture my Adopters received from Korea was of a Toddler with the Hair shaved off. I suffered from a rash on my head caused by Atopic Eczema. Atopic Eczema stays through out life retelling the story of every aspect of stress experienced by the Body. So does Post Traumatic Stress.
You may think of other people famous or not who shaved their head in a state of Mental Distress. Sinead O’connor, Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse … what ever their motive.
Shaving the head is recognised as a symptoms that can occur in connection to Mental illness, but not to any specific Form of Mental Illness. Sufferers often have gone on experiencing a mental breakdown soon After, maybe in a state of Mania … An attempt to regain control or a sign of loosing control.
There are numerous social media contributions online of people shaving their Hair off during the Lockdown of this Covid-19 Pandemic.
We urgently need to address shortcomings in the Mental Health Services. We need a safe and well resourced Environment in which Mental Health Professionals can continue Working. Better access to advanced Technologies and Social Media. More Diversity. More Holistic and individual tailored Therapies. Just to list a few.
As long as Mental Health Issues are continued to be unheard and unseen, there is little hope for more resources.
förbi Yung Fierens, adopted from South Korea to Belgium.
Years ago, I was one of those lucky guys who could pull through Asia with the backpack on her own for almost half a year. It was a magical time when I got to meet many exciting, cool people, saw the sun take off in a temple in Angkor Wat and between the Akha Tribes in Laos. Hong Kong, China, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Indonesia, Bhutan, Singapore and Cambodia.
In the last country (Cambodia) I visited, one of the many orphanages where there were dozens of children waiting for adoptive parents, I was considering staying in the area for a while and volunteering there. I gave language lessons in english, art lessons, helped prepare meals. I would have to throw a pack of euros on the table to provide living and living because of course you can’t live on the wages of such an NGO. They need their money for those kids.
That was what I thought was going to happen, that was how I thought the situation was. Until friends who lived and worked on the scene in development aid and the experiences of others backpackers opened my eyes.
“These are not orphanages but straight tourist traps. The parents of those children are getting money to bring their offspring during the day to the so called orphanage where they are exhibited as monkeys, so that the owners can knock money out of the pockets of naive tourists.
The children are not being taught in the meantime and therefore learn nothing that can ever come in handy in a human life. When they get too big and the cuteness is over, then they get banned from those homes and end up back on the street as a beggar.
And yes, whoever wants can adopt a child if enough money is put on the table. Since Angelina Jolie’s oldest son came to be adopted / purchased here during Tomb Raider’s filming, the orphanage tourism has been booming.”
I therefore abandoned the plan and with two other backpackers, I chose to support a boy from a poor family so that he could go to school and get a diploma. He was the first in his village to learn english. The result is that not only did we help 1 young person with it, but he took the whole village out of misery. Thanks to him, other children are able to go to school, the local economy has started and … most importantly, no mother has to let her child leave for a faraway country to give it a better life.
I don’t feel like a benefactor, I have told few this story and won’t come out with it to reap admiration for it. I’m telling it to show that there are other and better, more sustainable and previously used ways to give children a better life without having to remove them from their surroundings.
Original in Dutch
Jaren geleden was ik één van die gelukzakken die bijna een half jaar in haar eentje met de rugzak door Azië kon trekken.
Een magische tijd waarin ik veel boeiende, toffe mensen heb mogen ontmoeten, de zon heb mogen zien opstijgen in een tempel in Angkor Wat en tussen de Akha Tribes in Laos hebben kunnen vertoeven. Hong Kong, China, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Indonesië, Buthan, Signapore en Cambodia.
In dat laatste land heb ik één van de vele weeshuizen bezocht waar tientallen kinderen zaten te wachten op adoptieouders.
Ik overwoog om een tijdje in de streek te blijven en er vrijwilligerswerk te doen. Taallessen Engels, tekenles, helpen met het bereiden van maaltijden…ik zou er wel een pak euro’s voor op tafel moeten smijten om in kost en inwoon te voorzien. Want natuurlijk kan je niet op kap van zo’n NGO gaan leven. Die hebben hun centen nodig voor die kindjes.
Dat was wat ik dacht dat er zou gebeuren, dat was hoe ik dacht dat de situatie was.
Tot vrienden die ter plaatse woonden en werkten in de ontwikkelingshulp én de ervaringen van anderen backpackers me de ogen openden.
“Dit zijn geen weeshuizen maar regelrechte tourist traps. De ouders van die kinderen krijgen geld om hun kroost overdag naar dat zogenaamde weeshuis te brengen waar ze als aapjes in de zoo tentoongesteld worden zodat de eigenaars geld uit de zakken van naïeve toeristen kunnen kloppen. Ze krijgen intussen geen les en leren bijgevolg niets wat ooit van pas kan komen in een mensenleven. Als ze te groot worden en de schattigheid eraf is dan worden ze verbannen uit die tehuizen en belanden ze terug op straat als bedelaar. En ja, wie dat wil kan zo’n kind adopteren als er maar genoeg geld voor op tafel gelegd wordt. Sinds Angelina Jolie haar oudste zoon hier is komen adopteren/ kopen tijdens de filmopnames van Tomb Raider is het weeshuis toerisme geboomd.”
Ik heb het plan dan ook laten varen en heb ervoor gekozen om samen met nog twee andere backpackers waarmee ik in Laos terecht gekomen ben, een jongen uit een arm gezin financieel te ondersteunen zodat die naar school kon gaan en een diploma kon behalen. Hij was de eerste van zijn dorp die Engels zou leren. Het resultaat is dat we er niet alleen 1 jongen mee hebben geholpen maar dat die op zijn beurt het hele dorp uit de misérie heeft gehaald. Dankzij hem zijn er later andere kinderen naar school kunnen gaan, is er locale economie ontstaan en…hoeft er geen enkele moeder meer haar kind te laten vertrekken naar een ver land om het een beter leven te geven.
Ik voel me geen weldoener, ik heb weinigen dit verhaal verteld en kom er nu niet mee naar buiten om er bewondering mee te oogsten. Ik vertel het om te tonen dat er andere en betere, duurzamere en eerbaardere manieren zijn om kinderen een beter leven te geven zonder ze te moeten weghalen uit hun omgeving.
förbi Lisa Kininger, adopted from Thailand to the USA.
My name is Lisa and I am an intercountry adoptee. Thanks to my wonderful parents, they have given me a beautiful life that I’m forever grateful for. There is only minimum information about my true identity. What I do know isn’t enough to find out who I was and where I came from. Although I’m forever happy with who I’ve become and my beautiful family, I have always been curious about my true identity, as anyone else would be. I have tried absolutely everything from phone calls and emails to traveling to Thailand more than once, searching helplessly. So, when I turned 18, I decided to start my journey of searching.
I had reached out to the Thai doctor and his wife, from whom I was adopted. They were not interested in helping me but did explain that they put up 40 non-biological children for adoption. They would have their cooks and maids sign as fake biological parents. In effect, they also told me that they came up with my birth name “Malai” and the birth date 20 December 1972. They told me not to contact the people on my birth certificate as they would lie to me and take my money. With only the people on my birth certificate to reach out to, I desperately did so in hopes of finding more information. I eventually stumbled across DNA testing and used it to my advantage.
My story starts with my father being an aircraft electrician as a Sr. Master Sergeant in the USA Air Force. My parents were married and stationed in Utapao, Thailand in 1974-1975. They were unable to have children of their own and were in the process of adopting in the USA but had to put it on hold due to being stationed in Thailand.
One day my mother went to Bangkok to go grocery shopping at the base commissary. She ended up talking to a woman about the prices of meat and the woman had mentioned how she just had adopted a Thai baby girl. The woman said she knew of another Thai baby girl who was up for adoption. My mother said she would love to but unfortunately, they were leaving soon to go back to the USA, so there would be no time. While checking out at the shop, the same lady approached my mother with a phone number. The phone number was for the Thai baby girl who was up for adoption. My mother decided to call. She spoke with a woman who said unfortunately, she was adopted already. So sadly, my mother hung up the phone. Then suddenly, over the loudspeaker at the store, they announced my mother’s name. They said there was a phone call for her. On the other end of that line was a lady asking my mother to share about herself and my father. The lady said she didn’t know what came over her, but she felt the need to call. The lady said she had a Thai baby girl at her house who was very sickly. She wanted my mother to see the baby girl right away. So, the lady sent a car to pick up my mother from the store in Bangkok.
My mother arrived at the house. The people at the home were a Thai doctor and his American wife (this was the lady on the phone I talked to when I started my search, which is years after). They explained to my mother that the baby girl was very ill, only weighed 13 pounds and was rescued from the jungle. They also told her that the baby girl’s 5-year-old sibling died of malnutrition and the baby girl was going next. That baby girl was me.
Soon my mother was able to meet me for the first time. She put me in her lap and I started to play with her watch. That’s when the people decided it was the perfect match. They did however also have a Dutch couple that was going to visit me in the morning. If the Dutch couple didn’t want me, then I was my mother’s. So, they put my mother up in a hotel suite that the doctor had organised.
This was during the Vietnam war in 1974 and when my mother called my father to explain where she was and what was going on, my father became very worried as it was dangerous for civilians to be off base. Fortunately, the next morning the Dutch couple wanted a boy, and I could go home with my parents! The next step was for my father to get me adopted in Thailand. Adoptive parents had to be a certain age to adopt in Thailand and my parents were too young. The Thai doctor wanted my father to lie about his age and bribe the consulate with a bottle of whiskey. My father didn’t want to do such a thing because he was in the US AirForce and could get into substantial trouble. The Thai doctor then had to get ahold of my “biological mother” to sign a release form for my new parents to take me back to the the USA. The doctor arranged a visit with my father and my bio mother at a restaurant outside of Bangkok. The doctor explained to my father that she came from the south and that my father had to pay for her travel expenses. When they met at the restaurant, the doctor and my bio mother only spoke Thai; she signed and left. My father had no idea what was said.
We happily left for the USA and I had a fantastic childhood. I had the privilege of seeing and living in different parts of the world, thanks to my father serving in the US AirForce. Throughout my childhood, I always had the desire to search for my biological family and to find the truth about myself. I remembered what the Thai doctor and wife told me which was to avoid contacting the people on my birth certificate as they would lie and take my money. I took a risk and didn’t listen to them. I decided my only choice was to find the people on my birth certificate so I contacted them. In the beginning they had said yes they are my family. They proceeded to ask if I was Mali or Malai. I then said I was Malai but asked who Mali was? They told me Mali was my sister. They said to call back the next day because they knew someone who could speak English. So I did and then they told me they were not my family, but knew of my family because they were neighbours at one time. They told me the family name and said I had an older sister who died in a car accident and the family had moved away. They asked me to call back in two weeks and they would help me try and find this family. They ended up not being able to find them.
As a result, I hired a private investigator in Thailand to find them and the investigator was successful. This family acknowledged I was part of their family and that my immediate family passed away but could locate my aunt, uncle and cousins. I was able to receive pictures of them and they were able to finish the story about me and knew the Thai doctor, so I believed them.
This was in the early 2000s before DNA testing was well known. I took the initiative to take my first trip to Thailand to meet them. I gave them money because they were poor. My aunt had a stroke so I bought her a wheelchair, medication and food. I set up an international bank account so they could take out money when needed. They would even write to me and ask for more money throughout the years and said my aunt would die if I didn’t pay for her blood transfusion.
I decided to do a DNA test with my late sisters’ son and the results showed there was no relation at all between this family and me. Sadly, I gave up searching for a while. Eventually, as time passed, I contacted the people on my birth certificate again and they told me I am possibly theirs after all. So I did a DNA test with the biological mother on my birth certificate (this was when I booked my 2nd trip to Thailand with my family). Unfortunately two days before leaving for Thailand, the results revealed I was not related to her. We went on the trip anyway and met with her. When I met her in person, she told me that the doctor paid her to sign as my biological mother and that she was the one at the restaurant who met my adoptive father.
Since then, I have done DNA tests with her husband’s side of the family and no luck. Unfortunately, I’ve done countless DNA tests only to find 3rd to 4th cousins and they have all been adopted as well so no help there either. The hard part with my search is that my identity in Thailand is fake. My true identity seems like it’s been erased from existence.
It has been challenging throughout my life, wanting to know the truth but being lied to consistently with no explanation as to why. I don’t know how old I am, my real name, or where I came from. Everybody that knows some truth REFUSES to help or tell me anything. I have a beautiful family with three grown children and I’m happily married but I would love to share with my children and one day, my grandchildren, my own biological family.
Through my journey, I relate to other adoptees feelings and emotions and so I have dedicated my time to helping other adoptees find their biological families for 20 years. I am a private investigator for adoptees. I understand both sides of the story and can empathise. Even though I haven’t found the end to my story, I find joy in helping others in their journey and I’ve also found what I was looking for via the actual journey itself.
förbi Sabina Söderlund-Myllyharju, adopted from Taiwan to Finland. Translation by Fiona Chow. Original post här in Swedish.
Recently my Facebook newsfeed has been flooded with important news items from places such as The Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden. The Netherlands has suspended all adoptions from abroad after an investigation revealed systematic abuses as well as illegal adoptions. A similar investigation has begun in Switzerland. In Sweden, adult adoptees from Chile along with those from other nations, are fighting for a nation-wide investigation to be implemented as soon as possible.
This build-up of steam in the adoption world started to stir up feelings inside of me. For a long time now, I have been observing strong opposition against adoption from adopted adults in the international circles I am involved in on social media. But to completely halt all adoptions? That sounded foreign to me. Many years ago, I thought likewise, but since then I have come to the realisation that such thinking is a little too radical. At least, not while there are children out there without parents.
The other night, I listened to a discussion in which a Swedish adoptive parent openly stood in the gap for the illegally adopted children who are now demanding Sweden to take responsibility. She supported them whole-heartedly, even though her engagement is likely to bring negative consequences into her own life. It warmed my heart that she as an adoptive parent is willing to do everything in her power so that her own children in the future would not need to question the adoption system in the same way as the stolen children of today.
My own adoption didn’t go as it should have, and this has been the source of a myriad of different emotions inside of me. These have ranged from the sadness of not having grown up with my biological family, to real anger over a system full of inadequacies. How is it even possible that I was transported from one continent to another with the help of falsified papers? That the offenders have now been tried and punished is of course just and right, but why was there never any attempt to re-unite me and dozens of other children with their original families?
At the same time, I have experienced huge feelings of guilt for even thinking this way, as I have had a good life here in Finland. Who am I really to complain? In fact, this isn’t a question of not being grateful. I am truly thankful for many things, not the least of which include my three children who are growing up in a fantastic country such as Finland. However, am I thankful that I was separated from my biological mother? Is it even possible for me to ever stop wondering why my identification documents were falsified at the time of adoption? Was I sold? Is this what my biological mother really wanted?
It has been many years since my own adoption and at that time, the arrangements were made privately, without the help of an adoption agency, nor the protection such an agency would have provided. I am happy that today’s Finland adoptions are regulated in a totally different way, so that we can be certain that things are done legally and correctly when we place children through international adoption. This is the way it is, isn’t it? Surely our focus is on what is best for the child, just as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) demands? Surely we choose to act without delay when suspicious activity arises on the adoption field?
My hope is that adoptees, adoptive parents and adopters can be assured that all those who work with adoption in Finland are, with good conscious, able to say that everything is working as it should. I sincerely hope that adoption agencies such as Interpedia, Save the Children and the City of Helsinki have been quiet for so long because they absolutely have nothing to hide.
At the same time, I can hardly be the only person who thinks that an independent state investigation is long overdue, even in a country such as Finland.
by Kristopher Hinz adopted from Sri Lanka to Australia.
In the five year period between 2008 and 2013, struggling Peruvian and Bolivian farmers were plunged even deeper into poverty. Western demand for the world’s latest “superfood” meant that the median price of their staple food, quinoa, skyrocketed dramatically, and suddenly it was even harder for these subsistence farmers to put food on the table (1,2).
Wealthy, middle class and vegan, it was well intentioned white hipsters (who often think of themselves as the most ethical consumers in the market) that were the main drivers of this catastrophe with their insatiable taste for the healthy grain.
This, it seems, was a case of supply and demand gone wrong- a wealthy segment of the market having a disproportionate share of control over capitalism’s puppet strings, which they then unwittingly used to widen the disparity between the developed and developing world.
This is not a new phenomenon, however. The “Quinoa crisis” was merely the latest Western craze to shake the foundations of the third world. Another industry full to the brim of young people’s good intentions has also recently been the cause of much disruption in the poorer corners of the world.
Voluntourism provides the opportunity for university students or high school leavers on their gap year to travel abroad and volunteer at orphanages in Africa, Asia and Latin America. They fly home with smiles on their faces and happy hearts, but there is a dark side to their activism.
Those children they think are so gorgeous on their numerous selfies, who are already vulnerable and emotionally volatile, are left with even greater attachment issues as they watch yet another role model walk in and out of their life after a few weeks of cuddles and a couple of extra toys.
It has been demonstrably shown that many of these children are not indeed orphans at all, and are merely products of “baby farms” that exist solely for voluntourists and prospective white adoptive parents (3,4, 5, 6).
Young mothers mired deep into poverty and desperate for a way out, send their children away to orphanages for a chance at an institutionalised education. This heartbreaking decision is made all the more tantilising by the offer of a much-needed financial incentive.
What of the lucky ones then? Whose bright smiles and eager hugs are enough to sway their altruistic and lonely white guests to become their adoptive parents?
There are many who are indeed fortunate when they finally make their way to their shiny new developed nation, with it’s big skyscrapers (or neat suburban lawns) and fridges full of foods they’d never dreamed of.
But like the quinoa trade, there simply isn’t enough protection for those where the original point of sale was made. As a result of being able to simply “buy” a child without being checked for their ability to be fit parents (as is the case in the West with a stringent foster care system) many of these adoptive parents make mistakes that cause long term identity issues for their beloved children.
Swept up in the joy of having the family they wanted at last, they neglect to allow their children to fully express all of their feelings about their adoption, requiring only to hear positive thoughts such as gratitude. Many adoptions end in tears for the child, their new family or both. Many abusive adoptive parents are grossly unfit to adopt and do so for intentions related to social status, or simply are not the type of people who should have been parents to begin with.
But even in the best cases, no adoption, no matter how idyllic, is ever perfect for a child’s mental state. The best of parents will still chastise their adoptive children or feel hurt when they express feelings of loneliness or disconnection with their new culture and longing for understanding of their birth culture. Adoptive parents (including in my own experience) will also take it as a personal affront when their child expresses frustration with racist elements of their adopted culture.
Of course, like the vegans, these good parents made a “purchase” in good faith and most of them were full of nothing but positive intentions. But also much like the vegans, the fact the market was skewed so heavily in their favour meant that they were able to do what they wanted without needing to consider how their actions may impact those who are less fortunate.
Across both East and West, prospective white parents’ demands for an adoptive child is seen as an unquestioned right, while parents of colour who have adopted white children are regularly and rudely accosted when in public with them (7).
The skewed market must be balanced back in favour of the developing world. This will allow for greater scrutiny to be placed on prospective adoptive parents seeking children from the third world and will ensure that such parents are adequately informed about the challenges that their child will face as an interracial, intercountry adoptee.