Why are Dutch Adoptive Parents Silent En-masse?

by Hilbrand Westra, born in South Korea and adopted to the Netherlands; founder of Adoptee & Foster Care (AFC) Netherlands

An international headache

Adoption is political! Last week there was an article in the Dutch newspaper Trouw by Sam van den Haak. The headline and subtext state:

Support adopted children who are looking for their own parents with a fund
Parents spend tens of thousands of euros to adopt a child. But if adopted children want to find their own parents, there is no money for that. That’s not right, thinks Sam van den Haak, who was adopted from Sri Lanka herself.

It is hopeful to see that since 1989 where I was very involved by providing my critical input to counterbalance adoption debates, more and more adoptees are today emerging who seem to follow in these footsteps. And although I have withdrawn from this shadowy, and at times dangerous, political domain of adoption, I must nevertheless make a comment about the constant protection of adoptive parents by many of these adoptees. These adoptive parents are silent every time and it seems that they are once again sitting out this ‘storm’.

But where Van den Haak talks about prospective parents, it is actually about her adoptive parents at the same time. And it is actually not entirely true that adoptive parents were not aware, or could have been, that there might have been a lot wrong with intercountry adoption (the legal jargon for overseas international adoptions).

A prospective parent who had studied the matter could have known that in most cases there was at least a scent of something not right to it. Now it is mainly shifted by them to governments and adoption mediators – these are organizations that are remarkably often set up by and for adoptive parents.
#STOCKHOLMSYNDROOM

I understand that many adoptees do not wish to criticize their adoptive parents because in many cases that is their last straw to cling to when it comes to a tangible family to belong within. But without these 30,000 adoptive parents in the Netherlands, we would not have the consequences we now see. And if all those adoptive parents did indeed mean well with us, why do they always remain silent en masse and refuse to seek redress from the Dutch government and force it to make better provisions for adoptees who are impacted?

In the meantime, the Ministry of Justice set up an operation smokescreen by organizing a so-called “national consultation” that cost thousands of euros with external consultants who had done little to no preliminary research to create the idea that there would be unbiasedness and room for participation. During one of those first rounds in Utrecht, I already outlined the outcome. The ministry dismissed that as incorrect and premature. Hundreds of hours were in it for participants in these meetings, but in the end I was right. No money for adoptees for things as Van den Haak advocates, but a questionable counter function for post adoption support.

The entire operational execution and money goes to the FIOM in Den Bosch (ISS Netherlands), which also has a questionable reputation in the adoption history by being one of the early facilitators of intercountry adoption.

The whole exercise of the Ministry of Justice could have saved us wasting effort and the money involved could have gone to adoptees. But as is often the case, logic is lacking on these types of cases, and that frustrates many adoptees.

In a personal capacity, Hilbrand Westra

Original Dutch

ADOPTIE IS #POLITIEK (Tammy Chu)
Een internationaal hoofdpijn dossier

Vanochtend stond er een artikel over #adoptie in dagblad Trouw van Sam van den Haak.

Het is hoopvol om te zien dat er sinds (1989) mijn kritische tegenwicht in het adoptiedebat, steeds meer geadopteerden opstaan die in deze voetsporen lijken te volgen. En alhoewel ik mij uit dit schimmige, en bij tijden gevaarlijke, politieke domein van adoptie teruggetrokken heb, moet ik toch een kanttekening plaatsen bij het telkens in bescherming nemen van #adoptieouders door veel van deze #geadopteerden. Deze adoptieouders zwijgen telkens als het graf en het lijkt erop dat ze deze ‘storm’ wederom uitzitten.

Maar waar Van den Haak het over wensouders heeft, gaat het eigenlijk tegelijkertijd over haar #adoptieouders. En het klopt feitelijk ook niet helemaal dat adoptieouders niet op de hoogte waren, of hadden kunnen zijn dat er wellicht van alles mis was met interlandelijke adoptie, het juridische jargon voor overzeese internationale adopties.
Een beetje wensouder die zich verdiept had in de materie had kunnen weten dat er in de meeste gevallen er op z’n minst een luchtje aan zat. Nu wordt het door hen vooral afgeschoven op overheden en adoptiebemiddelaars. Organisaties die opvallend genoeg vaak juist zijn opgezet door en vanuit adoptieouders. Hoe dan?

#STOCKHOLMSYNDROOM

Ik snap wel dat vele geadopteerden als de dood zijn om hun adoptieouders te bekritiseren. Want dat is in veel gevallen wel hun laatste strohalm als het om een tastbaar #gezin gaat. Maar zonder deze 30.000 adoptieouders in Nederland zaten we nu niet met de gevolgen. En als al die adoptieouders het inderdaad zo goed met ons gemeend hadden, waarom zwijgen ze dan telkens massaal en weigeren ze bij de Nederlandse overheid verhaal te halen en deze te dwingen betere voorzieningen te treffen voor geadopteerden?

Intussen werd er door het Ministerie van Justitie een operatie rookgordijn opgezet door een zogeheten landelijk overleg te organiseren wat duizenden euro’s koste met externe consultants die nauwelijks tot geen vooronderzoek hadden gedaan om de zweem te creëren dat er sprake zou zijn van onbevooroordeeldheid en ruimte voor medezeggenschap. Tijdens een van die eerste rondes in Utrecht, schetste ik de uitkomst al. Door het ministerie werd dat weggewuifd als incorrect en te voorbarig. Honderden uren zaten er in voor deelnemers aan deze bijeenkomsten, maar uiteindelijk kreeg ik gelijk. Geen geld voor geadopteerden voor zaken zoals Van den Haak bepleit, maar een twijfelachtige loketfunctie voor adoptienazorg.
De hele operationele uitvoering en geld gaat naar het Fiom in Den Bosch dat ook een discutabele reputatie in de adoptiegeschiedenis er op nahoudt.

De hele exercitie van het MVJ had ons dus bespaart kunnen blijven en het geld wat daarmee gemoeid ging naar geadopteerden kunnen gaan. Maar zoals wel vaker, logica ontbreekt op dit soort dossiers, en dat frustreert menige geadopteerde.

Op persoonlijke titel, Hilbrand Westra

The Problem of Western Adoption Discourse

by Hilbrand Westra, adopted from South Korea to the Netherlands; founder of Adoptee Foster Coaching (AFC); awarded the Order of Orange-Nassau for his contributions to the Netherlands adoptee community. The original text in Dutch here.

#Adoption is not a universal right, but it is a Western right.

If adoption is really and essentially good, then we must allow adoptions in and from all countries. The principles for adopting children (social, economic, medical, ideological, psychological, (post) Christian, scientific and political motives, etc.,) must then be applicable and legally valid for everyone. Adoption must then become part of a universal right anywhere, and for anyone in the world.

Then all prospective adoptive parents can receive financial and fiscal support from all governments in their countries. As for years the costs of adoption were tax deductible in the Netherlands and in the USA where so-called adoption loans exist. Some in the Netherlands took out a private loan from banks or were financially sponsored by family members to be able to adopt children from mothers who were financially struggling.

Back to the international advice. We can best categorise adoptions as part of foreign relations. We can then finally see adoption as an exclusive form of development cooperation and as an exclusive form of migration, without the children’s parents, of course. Then it can finally be transferred to ministries of foreign affairs, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Maybe a fun fact, adoption in South Korea used to be managed by the Ministry of Commerce. Yes, yes they already knew what it was about then.

OPEN BORDERS

If there is agreement that it is a universal right, then the Netherlands must also open its doors wide to adoptions to other countries from and for less fortunate children in the Netherlands, for example children who cannot find foster care, live below the poverty line, children of single parents, children who do not have health insurance, children of refugees, children who have been expelled from parental authority or children of parents who are in conflict, children who receive a better education elsewhere or opportunities that they would otherwise not get in the Netherlands.

This does mean that we have to accept adoption agencies from the US, Canada, Australia and other European countries, as well as from China, Saudi Arabia, India and Russia and all other countries where the economy is picking up. They should all be entitled to the supply of children in the Netherlands.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE AGREEMENTS

Why not a transatlantic adoption trade deal on this topic. It has already been categorized as a Child Industrial Complex in social science (Cheney et al). Actually, we are not playing the game completely fair now. We do have access to, especially non-Western countries, but not the other way around.

If we really believe that the current pro-adoption arguments are universally legitimate, then we should also be able to apply them to a reciprocal exchange of children with other countries. What we call the in-and-out situation in the adoption jargon as with the USA.

The consequence is that the Hague Adoption Convention must be dropped, not that the Netherlands cares about it at all, even though the permanent office is in the Netherlands, it already ignores the subsidiarity principle (take care of your own children first before you may adopt in and out) . A so-called equal level playing field must then be created. Free play and free choice of children for everyone.

CHINESE PROSPECTIVE PARENTS IN THE NETHERLANDS

I can already picture it, hordes of childless Chinese couples and singles who go to disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague to select children. Or the smartest go into the provinces, looking for young unmarried mothers without family support. These are then entered in a database so that other prospective adoptive parents in China can also choose from the online catalog on age, gender, colour, health, background, DNA value and cost-benefit (starting with €25,000) analysis. Something that is now permitted in non-Western countries.

SILVER AND GOLD MEMBERSHIPS

And there will be a preferred supplier list for the countries that pay the most and have the most political interests. They may choose first! Or what about Islamic countries that use oil money to buy up children to win souls in the bible belt regions. At least the same number of children who have adopted in these regions should then be available on the Netherlands side for Muslim regions. There are several thousand. It seems like a great idea for a solid negotiating basis for peace and trade with Islamic superpowers. The evidence for such trade-offs is already there.

POLITICS AND BUSINESS AS USUAL

What about the adoption of children for political / business services like the former Federal Chancellor Schröder (then 60) who more or less received a child from Putin in 2004. As a token of thanks, a business delegation came to get to know Russia. This entire adoption affair was downplayed and concealed by the German government, but in the meantime German and Russian secret services were ordered to keep the ‘transmission of no 4’ in the right direction.

WHAT DEFENCE IS NOT GOOD FOR

And what about Belgian MPs who used Belgian military aircraft to hold private adoptions behind the scenes or to cooperate in large-scale ‘evacuations’ of so-called defenceless children from Congo. How do we know this again? Oh, the Babylift operations in Vietnam by USA’s airforce.

In other words, there is good business to be done with and for children, certainly internationally.

A condition is that there cannot be a covert first choice for well-to-do Netherland’s middle class to adopt domestically. After all, the Dutch children’s group will then suddenly become part of the international children’s market (M. Riben).

EQUAL WISHES EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES

What do you think of the above proposal?

Netherland’s prospective adoptive parents are given free rein and are allowed to choose what they want (they are just like animals that children, as adoptive mother Karen Gregory describes in her words in the newspaper Trouw) but other non-Western aspiring adoptive parents can also pick and deliver in the same way as is done in the Netherlands. Sounds like a great plan considering that it will offer equal opportunities for everyone.

Oh yeah. Perhaps an opportunity for companies such as Thuisbezorgd and Deliveroo to tap into a new and international market? The profit margin is enormous. In the peak times, an average of $ 2.5 billion a year was spent in international adoption.

If this open market is there, it is only a matter of time that an American movie star or celebrity files a lawsuit against the Netherlands for not getting what she ordered …

And there is a good chance that foreign multi-millionaires will come up with certain subsidies on projects so that they can buy and buy off the preferred supply for years. All seems like a good plan now that the Dutch economy can use a boost in this COVID time.

FALLING MARKET VALUE

Unfortunately, the above plan does not actually have any impact in the long run. It is being taken over by a new market. Namely that of commercial surrogacy and designer babies that you can put together yourself with the DNA material as you wish. Who then wants a second-hand child?

NEW TREATIES WITH THE SAME LOOPHOLES

But as it now seems, that market has discovered the loopholes of international adoption and wants a similar treaty as the Hague Adoption Convention. We already discussed this internationally in 2016. The smart ones among the lawyers, many white young women who say they care about other women in the world (or what matters to them, the control of surrogate mothers for a healthy gestation period) saw their chance. Solidarity with other women suddenly ceases when it comes to children. Then the ‘animal instincts’ are released, to use Gregory’s words again.

After all, it seems to be all ethically regulated on paper, but everything underhanded is possible because as soon as there is a treaty, nobody can and does not need to check each other anymore, and everything is possible. Long live international treaty laws.

SCHIZOPHRENE CONSUMERS

In the meantime, more than 9,000 signatures have been collected to lift the temporary stop on international adoption in the Netherlands. However, this petition group does not want to delve into the backgrounds of the subject that they are committed to as consumers. Perhaps Benjamin Barber is right in his book, The Infantile Consumer.

He introduces what he calls the ‘infantilist ethos’: the capitalist ideology that reduces responsible citizens to docile consumers and replaces the public good with private property. Barber shows how adult consumers infantilise in a global economy that generates massive overproduction of goods and focuses primarily on the child as a consumer. He keenly analyses the consequences of this development for our children, our freedom, citizenship and democracy.con

HEDONISM 2021

A long time ago, when I read Aldous Huxley’s book, ‘A Brave New World’, I had the creeps that this could be true. And lo and behold, it is already here. If this is correct, then Hannah Arendt’s theorem is also true. Even worse, history has already shown it. The human monster turns out to have an ordinary face of a ‘normal man or woman’ that is not served by a No. It seeks immediate satisfaction of individual needs and enjoyment. Possibly at the expense of others. This is called hedonism.

END OF FEMINISM 3.0

Feminism also appears to stop at the borders of the western world, and women of colour appear to remain anxiously silent on this subject. After all, they want everything that the dominant white women also have: freedom, beauty, power, prestige and also children of another, if it is convenient. Even if it costs an existential loss for those directly involved; parents and children.

THE HOLLYWOOD SAGA

In the meantime, Hollywood and Walt Disney take the subject of orphan and adoption as a present and no longer questions the suffering of Dombo, Bambi, Superman and many other examples. After all, people mainly remember the happy ending of Annie (The Musical), for example, but not what preceded it. After all, the consumer wants the end product but not the responsibility of the process in advance.

ADOPTION PORN

Since then, something like #adoptionporn seems to exist. Hordes of Dutch people sit in front of the TV every week with tissues ready to do themselves well with the program ‘as Spoorloos ed. indirectly permits this way. The price? National exposure of suffering.

FINALLY

But who actually pays for that suffering? Usually not the consumers. They are just end users.

I end with a quote from Dr. Jordan Peterson.

“Your rights, become my responsibility.”

In other words, your right becomes my responsibility. What you claim as a right must then be provided and protected by others. The question is and remains, at what price?

Inner Work for Adoptees

One of the highlights in travelling to the Netherlands last month was to finally meet in person Hilbrand Westra, a fellow intercountry adoptee born in South Korea and adopted to the Netherlands, whom I have liaised and worked with since the beginning of ICAV. Not only did I get to meet him in person, share a few meals, laugh and pose for photos like above .. but I also got to hear him speak. He was previously one of the key adoptee leaders in the Netherlands, advocating for intercountry adoptees at government level and was awarded the Order of Orange-Nassau for his amazing contributions to the adoptee community.

In the past few years, he has taken a back seat in advocacy but has turned his efforts to his other passion with adoptees – of providing professional emotional support. Like myself, he has also observed that advocacy is best done when an adoptee has healed their inner self and often the biggest barrier to this healing, is the lack of professionals who have methods and experience to truly help us move past the traumas of the past. I love that Hilbrand is now focusing on providing for this gap in what we need most!

Here is the video recording I made of his presentation which gives you a little insight as to how he operates. It is 23.4mins long so make sure you have time to listen in full. Apologies for the slight fuzziness in the recording, I must have knocked the lens when I zoomed in.

He works utilising the well known European models of adoption constellation and systemic work to help adoptees (and fostered people) shift through the layers of trauma we inevitably acquire, due to being relinquished or removed from our families of origin.

For those who want to know more about Hilbrand and the coaching team he is building in Europe to provide vital, professional emotional support to fellow adoptees, please see his website (dutch) or here (english).

Huge thanks to Chilean Adoptees Worldwide who hosted the event and invited Hilbrand, myself, and other key adoptee leaders as guest speakers. It was an AMAZING and memorable day!

English
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