Russia Bans US Adoptions

We all know how much I dislike the Russian government. However, I think the Russian Parliament’s decision to ban US adoptions of Russian children is a great idea. This decision was made to punish the US for its Magnitsky Act and that motivation is crap. The result, however, is very good.

These international and especially intercontinental adoptions are hugely problematic. A decision to emigrate is a very very complex one. It is a decision that transforms one’s life, a decision that always carries a wealth of consequences. As a two-time immigrant, I can tell you that an emigration that involves moving for good to a country that speaks a different language and has a different culture is one of the most traumatic events of one’s life. Of course, the concept of trauma does not have to be negative in every case, yet this is not something that people should inflict on somebody else out of a whim.

A child adopted from Russia will lose its language, culture, and probably never will get a chance to meet its biological family. (Or know that in its native language it is perfectly acceptable to use the word “it” to refer to a child because nouns have 3 genders.) The kind of people who would take a child away from all that simply because it took their fancy to buy a toy overseas are not to be trusted. There are crowds of miserable, abandoned, unwanted children right here in the US. If you feel so eager to be a parent, why not foster one or even several?

I hope that in response to this post people don’t start telling me that these adopters take the plight of Russian orphans to heart and try to save them. Anybody who cares about the orphans helps them without removing them from their environment, their culture, the contact with their relatives.

It is deeply disturbing to me that people should be able to purchase human beings and transform their lives completely without asking for their informed consent just because they have money. And I’m not even talking about all the cases where these adopted children are turned into sex slaves, punching bags, and domestic servants.

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154 comments on “Russia Bans US Adoptions

  1. Careful screening of all would-be adopters is essential. Maybe this does not occur effectively in a country as corrupted as Russia is. However, at this point in time, the expectation must be that any Russian orphan will benefit from being transferred to a vetted American family. Whoi would want to live in poverty in a country where the expectation at birth of a male is under 60 years of age, where alcoholism is pervasive and where the country is run by the Mafia.

    Incidentally, fostering is not the same as adoption. Fostering is for a limited time only. Families can rarely bond under such conditions.

    • “Whoi would want to live in poverty in a country where the expectation at birth of a male is under 60 years of age, where alcoholism is pervasive and where the country is run by the Mafia.”

      – Many people would and do. Most Russian-speaking immigrants are miserable in their new countries. Many return. You and I might not understand them, but this is how it is.

      • // – Many people would and do. Most Russian-speaking immigrants are miserable in their new countries. Many return. You and I might not understand them, but this is how it is.

        This argument doesn’t apply to children at all. Not all adult immigrants to Israel found themselves here, but children don’t have such problems.

        • “This argument doesn’t apply to children at all. Not all adult immigrants to Israel found themselves here, but children don’t have such problems.”

          – I’ve never been to Israel. But people who have been taken away in childhood – even by their own families – that I have met are profoundly miserable. And they are not separated from their actual relatives or deprived of their language and culture.

      • // But people who have been taken away in childhood –

        Taken away to US and miserable because of it?

        I find it hard to believe you met a representative sample.

        • “Taken away to US and miserable because of it?”

          – And Canada.

          “I find it hard to believe you met a representative sample.”

          – I’m sure it’s as representative as yours. :-) :-)

  2. Anybody who cares about the orphans helps them without removing them from their environment, their culture, the contact with their relatives.(Clarissa)

    As it happens in most if not all countries many children are dumped at orphanages and never see their family members again. After that, for many of them, the only bonding they do is with strangers who will likely rotate out of their lives rather quickly. As far as their culture goes, I wonder what part of the Russian one will they learn in those facilities. Hmm, maybe Charles was on to something with the mafia idea, afterall, most kids in our cultures who lead a life of crime come from broken or completely dysfunctional households. As a side note, I wonder how many families who try to adopt kids from Russian have Russian ancestry? I doubt very many of the bloggers on your site would chastise you if you could not have children of your own and decided to adopt from the Ukraine.

    • “As a side note, I wonder how many families who try to adopt kids from Russian have Russian ancestry?”

      – Hardly any.

      “I doubt very many of the bloggers on your site would chastise you if you could not have children of your own and decided to adopt from the Ukraine.”

      – Gosh, with the way children are seen as objects, I have no doubt I could eat them for breakfast and there will still be crowds of people who’d applaud me. The only thing that gets chastisement, in my experience, is saying that children are people and they have rights. That unleashes an enormous fury.

      • Gosh, with the way children are seen as objects, I have no doubt I could eat them for breakfast and there will still be crowds of people who’d applaud me.(Clarissa)

        Based on some things you say on your own blog and how many of your readership applauds you, I would say you exactly correct.

    • Late comment, but it’s definitely not most, and not even many. I come from an Eastern European country with a singularly fucked up poverty and unwanted children problem. Yet even so, the majority of kids in orphanages aren’t abandoned to never see their family members again. It’s more of a case of people who can’t afford to feed their kids renouncing parental rights in favour of an orphanage so their kids get to eat. The kids will be often visited by family, and they’ll spend holidays home whenever the parents can afford it.

  3. As you know, I profoundly disagree with you on this. First of all, local adoption is an incredibly difficult and often impossible process. Just yesterday I was speaking to a gay acquaintance – a brilliant entrepreneur – who has been trying to adopt in Canada and failing miserably. There are so many cases of people just unable to adopt locally and having the most legitimate reasons one may have to wish to be a parent. Orphanages in eastern Europe seem to have come out of horror movies and I remember reading statistics on what happens to the kids post-orphanage & the suicide rate was heartwrenching. I think that knowing what ‘it’ refers to pales in comparison to a child growing up with love and attention, not in a prison-like environment. Adoption, as patenting, is clearly complex but I think that international adoptions are a blessing for so many people.

    • “There are so many cases of people just unable to adopt locally and having the most legitimate reasons one may have to wish to be a parent.”

      – I understand their suffering but they are adults. They can deal with it.

      ” Orphanages in eastern Europe seem to have come out of horror movies and I remember reading statistics on what happens to the kids post-orphanage & the suicide rate was heartwrenching.”

      – I wouldn’t know about all Eastern European countries but in Russia this is no longer the case. Russia is a very rich country because of its natural resources. Their social safety network is a lot better than the one in the US (although not in Canada). In Ukraine, things are different and it might, indeed, be the matter of saving children from really horrible conditions. But Russia is not Ukraine and the orphanages are not doing that badly at all.

      • Russia being a rich country has nothing to do with funding of orphanages, schools, universities and most of other things.

        Please exclude me and my daughter from your overgeneralizations about miserable ex-Soviet people. This being miserable is a result of specific upbringing and cultural scripts, not of migration per se. Small children adapt easily, because they were not exposed to those scripts for long enough. Unless their ex-SU parents insist on feeding the same cultural scripts to their children after they move.

        I’ve seen some statistics according to which Russian orphan has much higher chance to be killed or abused in Russia than in the West.

        • “Please exclude me and my daughter from your overgeneralizations about miserable ex-Soviet people. ”

          – I never included you or said this was specifically about you.

          “Small children adapt easily, because they were not exposed to those scripts for long enough.”

          – For obvious reasons, I meet many students who are children of Hispanic immigrants. Irrespective of how far back the immigration goes generationally, they all perceive themselves as Latino/a, even when their Spanish is non-existent.

      • Ok, so are we then talking about adoption from Russia only or all international adoption? And do you think that it’s impossible for adoptive parents to be sensitive to the adopted child’s cultural background and heritage? What you describe when you talk about problems with international adoption seem to be examples of poor patenting, more than anything else.

  4. You’d think as an adoptee I’d be against you but I mostly agree. Not that I was personally deprived of any other culture (I’m American, born in the same city my adoptive parents lived in, white like they were, etc.). And I have some sympathy for the parents who get into this adoption scheme as it’s become much more difficult to adopt a kid here in the States — there are way more hoops to jump through even than when I was born, when my parents had to hire a lawyer and pay over thousands of dollars in 1963.

    On the other hand, you aren’t entitled to a child, and other countries don’t exist just to provide babies for childless rich American couples. And the cultural aspect *is* important, I don’t care what anyone says — especially when adopting a child who is no longer a baby. There are a whole host of legal issues as well that I’m not qualified to get into that make this sort of thing very problematic.

    One more thing: I will say that the attitude expressed by Charles Rowley and Tit For Tat, above, I find both distasteful and feeble ground for removing a child from its parent country and bringing it here. So Russia has poverty, corruption, alcoholism, and crime. We don’t in the US? We just recently had yet another disturbed white male slaughter a bunch of kids, the latest in a spate of white men committing sudden mass murder here. And of course we have loads of crime and a huge problem with substance abuse of every kind including alcohol and our politicians’ hands are not sparkling clean in the corruption department. And that’s not even getting into our current hobby of waging wars long after they’re needed (if they were needed at all). It’s really hypocritical to criticize other countries for their problems and hold up ours as some sort of shining example of perfection in comparison, especially as many of the problems in the world today have our fingerprints all over them (for example, how much of the political problems in Russia are reactions to what we are doing?).

    • // for example, how much of the political problems in Russia are reactions to what we are doing?

      My guess is virtually zero.

      // So Russia has poverty, corruption, alcoholism, and crime. We don’t in the US?

      Why not compare US to some African country too? In the latter thousands may die in wars, but US has its’ (few) shooters, right?

    • @twisted

      Why is it that you find my comment distasteful but not this one?

      “The kind of people who would take a child away from all that simply because it took their fancy to buy a toy overseas are not to be trusted”(Clarissa)

      I know, because you agree with it. Nice way to slam all international adoptive parents. Nothing like your own absolutes, right? By the way, I did acknowledge the facts of what happen in our culture too.

    • “On the other hand, you aren’t entitled to a child, and other countries don’t exist just to provide babies for childless rich American couples. And the cultural aspect *is* important, I don’t care what anyone says — especially when adopting a child who is no longer a baby.”

      – That’s exactly what I’m saying. Last week I met a student who was such an adoptee from Russia. She is now trying to learn how own language (which is how I met her) and planning to do an MA in Slavic Studies. Her life has now become about recovering her language and her culture that she lost because somebody decided she needed to lose them. The adoptive parents made no effort to provide her with a linguistic and cultural environment. Why didn’t they do it? This gives me reason to suspect that they were not motivated by the love of this child.

      • The adoptive parents made no effort to provide her with a linguistic and cultural environment. Why didn’t they do it? This gives me reason to suspect that they were not motivated by the love of this child.

        Did you ask the student whether she thought her parents loved her, or whether she would share your suspicions? No matter what her heritage, I suspect she would disagree with you.

        Just because people do not share *your* values does not mean that they were not motivated by love. Their motives may be misguided, but that’s very different from them wanting a “pet” or some such.

        If a devout Christian couple adopts a girl from China, I am sure they will raise her to be a Christian — even though China is officially atheist and her parents’ religion (if they have any) is almost certainly not the Christianity of the adoptive parents. That doesn’t mean they don’t love their daughter — it probably just means that they don’t appreciate their daughter’s need to understand her cultural heritage or that they prioritize her role as *their* daughter over her role as a Chinese adoptee.

        • “Did you ask the student whether she thought her parents loved her, or whether she would share your suspicions? No matter what her heritage, I suspect she would disagree with you.”

          – What are you, two years old? Normally, people who are older than two realize that the hardest admission anybody can make is that one’s parents don’t love one. Even children who are raped repeatedly by their parents convince themselves that this is the parents’ way of showing love.

          “Just because people do not share *your* values does not mean that they were not motivated by love. ”

          – What values? What are you on about?

          “If a devout Christian couple adopts a girl from China, I am sure they will raise her to be a Christian — even though China is officially atheist and her parents’ religion (if they have any) is almost certainly not the Christianity of the adoptive parents. That doesn’t mean they don’t love their daughter — it probably just means that they don’t appreciate their daughter’s need to understand her cultural heritage or that they prioritize her role as *their* daughter over her role as a Chinese adoptee.”

          – So walking all over a person, disregarding her needs, and using her like a toy is your definition of love? I am beginning to wonder what kind of a family you grew up in.

          “they prioritize her role as *their* daughter over her role as a Chinese adoptee.””

          – For your information, not only is this not love, this is a completely disgusting, abusive attitude towards a human being. Normal people treat dogs better than this.

  5. Correct me if I’m mistaken but in eastern europe adoption is difficult and unpopular (and families who adopt are pronte to be stigmatised as are adopted children) and most children who lose their biological families and have no other close relatves to look after them are simply discarded like old newspapers – relgated to bureaucratic care until they become legal adults and are dropped by the system all together.

    My adult self says I would rather be deprived of my cultural and linguistic heritage for a shot at a loving family I could bond with (especially in a country with very little stigma attached to adoption).

    Serious question: How can help orphans in a country that flat out doesn’t like them or care for them – especially a corrupt sinkhole where any financial donations are liable to disappear into some directors private bank account.

    • “Correct me if I’m mistaken but in eastern europe adoption is difficult and unpopular (and families who adopt are pronte to be stigmatised as are adopted children)”

      – This is the first time in my life I hear this. Actually, it is very popular and even prestigious in Russia today to adopt children which is why many politicians and pop stars are adopting all over the place.

      “My adult self says I would rather be deprived of my cultural and linguistic heritage for a shot at a loving family I could bond with (especially in a country with very little stigma attached to adoption).”

      – You would agree, though, that your adult self is different from many people’s adult selves, wouldn’t you? :-)

      “How can help orphans in a country that flat out doesn’t like them or care for them – especially a corrupt sinkhole where any financial donations are liable to disappear into some directors private bank account.”

      – If there are people who want to help Russian orphans specifically, I can provide information about a very good organization that helps several orphanages in Russia. This is an organization where very well-to-do people visit orphanages on a regular basis and bring the kids specifically what they need. Financially, everything they do is completely transparent and anybody can participate and see exactly how the program works.

  6. Question for you Clarissa. If an adoptive newborn is taken immediately from their birth country and raised somewhere else, what is their culture and language?

    • This has never been legal in Russia. Let’s discuss reality and not fantasies, OK?

      Still, to answer your question: as you know, I grew up in Ukraine. My language, however, is Russian. Because of history and politics, I was not taught Ukrainian as my native language. And I perceive that as an enormous trauma. Something of incredible importance has been taken away from me, amputated against my will. As a result, I spend my entire life learning other languages and cultures in order to fill the void. I’m a person without a mother tongue and without a culture of her own.

      This is precisely why I’m saying that doing this to a person on a whim is cruel and wrong.

      • And I perceive that as an enormous trauma(Clarissa)

        I am understanding you a little better now. The interesting thing about perception, everyone, for the most part, has a different one. Blogger el, in my opinion, has an excellent alternative perception to yours.

        • “The interesting thing about perception, everyone, for the most part, has a different one. Blogger el, in my opinion, has an excellent alternative perception to yours.”

          – An online discussion is precisely a place where everybody can offer their positions and discuss them.

      • Most people don’t have this void, I believe. I don’t f.e. and my father’s Russian nationality has nothing to do with it.

        Lets accept your premise, then there are 2 options:

        – not knowing native language and having a trauma, which leads to making a degree in Slavic studies (not suicide / becoming an alcoholic / deserting your children when time comes)

        – being a statistic after being released from an orphanage, if you don’t commit suicide first as many do

        For 99% of people, 2nd trauma is much much greater. Prevents them from becoming a normal healthy human being.

        • “not knowing native language and having a trauma, which leads to making a degree in Slavic studies (not suicide / becoming an alcoholic / deserting your children when time comes)”

          – I spoke to this woman for 15 minutes, so obviously I have no information about whether she has struggled with alcoholism or suicidal thoughts.

      • // I spoke to this woman for 15 minutes, so obviously I have no information about whether she has struggled with alcoholism or suicidal thoughts.

        I, of course, am not interested in this specific one woman, but in statistics.

      • // I spoke to this woman for 15 minutes, so obviously I have no information about whether she has struggled with alcoholism or suicidal thoughts

        Also, she was still alive, unlike those 10%, and not living on a street or being not functional member of society, which is very different from “struggling with”.

        • “And yet you are not eager to move to Lviv to embrace the true Ukrainian culture…”

          – Actually, I was at some point. And then I realized that the Ukrainian culture was as dead and buried there as it was in Kharkov.

  7. I find your argument surprisingly (since coming from you) nationalistic. Like people who talk about “great Russian culture” and “our Russian children”. They view those children as country’s property to be used in wars and to (supposedly) increase reproduction, not caring that – (from Russian wiki via GoogleTranslate) –

    In 1999, the figures were announced by the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, only 10% of graduates of Russian state orphanages and boarding schools are adapting to life, 40% commit crimes, yet 40% of graduates become alcoholics or drug addicts, 10% commit suicide.

    Btw, “adapting to life” doesn’t mean “reading Pushkin” or having any culture. Or a normal family. They would have much bigger probability to know f.e. about Russian great literature (reading it in translation) after growing in a normal family in US, than after being raised in a Russian orphanage.

    Those children are crippled for life. Mentally, emotionally, in all ways. Instead of giving them a chance to develop into normal human beings, which comes before any culture, they will be left to be destroyed, deserted in the orphanages. It is a crime imo.

    I don’t understand how you can talk of “traumas of immigration” with a strait face in this scenario. They already got many more real traumas (I know moving to another country is hard, but lets not compare this to being alone in the world as a child). Each day alone, without a family, is a trauma all over again. Look at the results.

    Or your argument about not knowing biological family, which doesn’t make any sense, since they will be able to find them after being raised in US too. May be they will even have a bigger chance of moving parents to meet them after being internationally adopted, since those cursed parents will hope to get money from “their” rich American children. (And many of them never meet parents after being raised in Russia.)

    • “They view those children as country’s property to be used in wars and to (supposedly) increase reproduction”

      – What does this have to do with me, exactly? I didn’t say a word about wars or increasing reproduction.

      “In 1999, the figures were announced by the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, only 10% of graduates of Russian state orphanages and boarding schools are adapting to life, 40% commit crimes, yet 40% of graduates become alcoholics or drug addicts, 10% commit suicide.”

      – What’s the use of discussing such old stats? As you know, the 1990s were harsh for everybody. But they are over.

      “Or your argument about not knowing biological family, which doesn’t make any sense, since they will be able to find them after being raised in US too.”

      – Really? Twenty years later and if they happen to make a pile of money.

      ” Each day alone, without a family, is a trauma all over again.”

      – Tell that to the little girl who was adopted by a pedophile and used by him as a sex slave. Tell that to the little boy who was beaten to death by his adoptive parents. Tell that to the infant who died because his adoptive father forgot him in the car for 9 hours. Unfortunately, there are many such stories and the issue is never as simple as family good / no family bad.

      • // Unfortunately, there are many such stories and the issue is never as simple as family good / no family bad.

        But a risk for children is much much less than if all adopted to US children were left in orphanages instead. Biological parents sometimes kill children too, so?

        // As you know, the 1990s were harsh for everybody. But they are over.

        Do you have new statistics? I don’t believe there has been a significant improvement. The problem of those deserted children is only partly materialistic, imo the bigger part is not connected to money. I don’t think the children had much worse life in 90ies than now from materialistic aspect either.

        • “But a risk for children is much much less than if all adopted to US children were left in orphanages instead.”

          – Says who?

          I am still eagerly awaiting the answer to the question I asked 3 times already:

          “Throughout the United States, more than 100,000 children and youth are in need of permanent adoptive families. For reasons such as abuse, neglect, and abandonment, their birth families are unwilling or unable to provide for the needs of these kids. Once the court has determined they cannot safely live with birth family, the search begins for a family willing to adopt. Unfortunately for many kids, the waiting time for that family can be months or even years.”

          – A far more interesting question is why people go to the enormous trouble and expense of traveling all the way to Russia to adopt when they can adopt without the expense right at home. (The expense is between $40 and $60K, so it’s no small change.)

          This is a very important question that will make this entire discussion redundant.

  8. About “good orphanages”: I think “socialization” or may be another more appropriate term will never happen well in an orphanage, that those children will still have severe problems, even if well-fed and clothed. People need much more than food and toys to develop properly. A jail can be great, but it is still a jail. An orphanage, not being a part of a family, is still an orphanage.

    The best orphanage is a hell compared to a usual family.

    Seems strange to me you talk of traumas from much smaller things, like stay-at-home mother, but believe in good orphanages.

  9. Throughout the United States, more than 100,000 children and youth are in need of permanent adoptive families. For reasons such as abuse, neglect, and abandonment, their birth families are unwilling or unable to provide for the needs of these kids. Once the court has determined they cannot safely live with birth family, the search begins for a family willing to adopt. Unfortunately for many kids, the waiting time for that family can be months or even years.”

    – A far more interesting question is why people go to the enormous trouble and expense of traveling all the way to Russia to adopt when they can adopt without the expense right at home.

    I’m eagerly awaiting everybody’s guesses.

    • The 100,000 children are about as emotionally broken as the children in Russian orphanages, so that’s not why. The answer is as obvious as Black and White.

      • “The answer is as obvious as Black and White.”

        – Yep. That’s one part of it. There is another part, though: you buy a kid overseas and nobody controls what happens to the kid. If you foster in the US, though, you will have the social services on your back, and who needs all that?

    • I suspect, on average those children are older than those adopted from Russia. An age is very important for many adopting parents.

      Also, if it’s much harder to adopt from US, well meaning people, who can become good parents, can get desperate of ever adopting from US and look elsewhere.

      Additional big part of it, which I fully understand, is the desire to create a new family with a child. A Russian, left by his family, child is different from a child from US, whose family doesn’t want to raise him itself, but will have a (constant?) presence. Since Russian orphans most often don’t see biological relatives anyway, I don’t think being adopted abroad hurts them on the whole.

      • “I suspect, on average those children are older than those adopted from Russia. An age is very important for many adopting parents.”

        – Aha, yet another reason to suspect this entire thing. If this is supposed to be about loving a child and doing something for a child, age should be immaterial. When people for over $40K just to get an infant, I have to ask why it matters so much.

        “A Russian, left by his family, child is different from a child from US, whose family doesn’t want to raise him itself, but will have a (constant?) presence.”

        – If you care 2 straws about a child, you will be happy that the child has contact with its bio relatives. Wanting to sever contacts between a child and bio family just because it’s more convenient makes one a horrible, mean, disgusting individual who sees the kid as an object, a toy.

  10. Wanting to sever contacts between a child and bio family just because it’s more convenient makes one a horrible, mean, disgusting individual who sees the kid as an object, a toy(Clarissa)

    This thought process is extremely short sighted. The fact could be that at any time the Biological parents could be toxic. The fact is many biological parents put their biological children up for adoption because they dont want them. It seems a fantasy you may be having is that all biological parents want to raise them and would miss them. This is patently false. Many times the cord is severed by the biological parents and maybe we should applaud them for this.

    • Even the worst mother or father in the universe, an alcoholic, a drug addict, a criminal, is still one’s one and only Mommy or Daddy. As phenomenal as adoptive parents might be – and they often are – nobody can substitute a birth parent. As we all know, I’m all for removing abused children from the care of abusive parents. However, removing from care should never mean severing all contact.

      ‘It seems a fantasy you may be having is that all biological parents want to raise them and would miss them. This is patently false.”

      – Of course, it’s false. Which is why I never said anything of the kind. :-)

      • As phenomenal as adoptive parents might be – and they often are – nobody can substitute a birth parent.(Clarissa)

        Here we go again, another absolutism. I cant find it right now but there is a study that estimates that at least 10% of children in families dont share DNA with their father. It seems that DNA comes from someone else. And the only way this would be found out would be to have some sort of genetic testing done. Now, I wonder, do you think that the child intuitively knows that and feels that their “daddy” is not very good and there probably is a better one out there somewhere? By the way, the 10% idea is fairly common in most species on the earth. It seems we have something in common with the animal world in that we like variety. ;)

        • ” I cant find it right now but there is a study that estimates that at least 10% of children in families dont share DNA with their father”

          – This has already been discussed in other posts.

          “Now, I wonder, do you think that the child intuitively knows that and feels that their “daddy” is not very good and there probably is a better one out there somewhere?”

          – Let’s skip the infantile good/bad. Of course, such people who are brought in the lack of the most basic truth about themselves by lying, horrible parents are deprived of something crucial. Which is the knowledge of their biological father and his entire family. As I said many times before, I believe that this is a horrible thing to do to any child.

          “By the way, the 10% idea is fairly common in most species on the earth. It seems we have something in common with the animal world in that we like variety.”

          – The thread is getting too infantile for my liking.

      • Clarissa

        The thing is, in most of those cases nobody ever knows the lie. So how can you purport to know that the adoptive parent could not be as good if not better than the biological parent? It seems, from my perspective, when you speak on this issue it is clouded by your emotions and not necessarily the facts.

        • “So how can you purport to know that the adoptive parent could not be as good if not better than the biological parent”

          – I never said anything of the kind. In fact, I recall specifically asking you to stop using the infantile vocabulary of “good” and “bad”. You assign weird ideas to me and then argue with them, and that’s kind of boring.

      • Clarissa

        Really? Then what does it mean when you say that “nobody can substitute a birth parent”. Isnt there at least the implication that one is “better” or “more good” than the other?

        • “Then what does it mean when you say that “nobody can substitute a birth parent”. Isnt there at least the implication that one is “better” or “more good” than the other?”

          – No, there isn’t. One can only have 1 birth mother. It doesn’t make her better than anybody. She can be a gazillion times worse than the adoptive parents. Yet she will still remain the one and only birth mother whom nobody can substitute.

  11. I have to run, so I can’t translate this right now. This is for el and otehr Russian-speaking readers: ” за последние 10 лет гражданами США убиты 19 российских детей, еще несколько детей в этой стране погибли в результате несчастных случаев и болезней. Некоторое число детей подверглось пыткам и избиениям, как минимум 20 оказались сданы приемными родителями в специальный приют, некоторое число приемных детей из России – “переуступлены” другим семьям (точно число неизвестно, высянять их судьбу планировалось по новому соглашению об усыновлении между РФ и США). ” http://users.livejournal.com/_lord_/

    So there is a reason why some people go so far to adopt kids.

    • // over the past 10 years U.S. citizens killed 19 Russian children, some more children in this country have died in accidents and diseases. A number of children have been tortured and beaten, at least 20 were handed over to foster parents a special shelter, a number of adopted children from Russia – “surrendered” to other families

      First of all, I am for checking on all adopting parents to find out rare “bad apples”.

      However, I am not yet persuaded by those statistics since:

      – Which % is 19 out of all adopted children during entire 10 years?

      – What is % of adopted abused children *inside* Russia?
      Which % of adoptions *inside* Russia are “surrendered”?

      Higher? Lower? It could be higher and nobody would shout about it in Russia, unlike about adopted to Bad-US children. All for political reasons.

      – How many of all adopted to US during 10 years children would be dead inside Russia by now, had they not being adopted?

      I don’t count accidents and diseases, which happen to all people everywhere.

      • “First of all, I am for checking on all adopting parents to find out rare “bad apples”.”

        – But that’s precisely the issue. You foster in the US, and the social services will be on your case until the child becomes 18. You adopt overseas, and nobody will control what happens after you bring the kid home. It isn’t for nothing that I asked why people choose to fork over huge amounts of money for international adoptions instead of adopting right here. What are they paying for? We have already found the following answers:

        1) racism;
        2) age;
        3) an opportunity to isolate the child from its birth family;
        4) lack of any control over what happens to the child.

        These sound like really wonderful, respectable reasons.

  12. // I’m sure it’s as representative as yours.

    Several hundreds? Israel is built of immigrants, near 40% of today’s citizens over age 25 were born (!) abroad.

    // If this is supposed to be about loving a child and doing something for a child, age should be immaterial.

    Does age of 16 vs 6 vs 6 months not make any difference? One of reasons is that an infant can (be helped to) grow into a completely healthy person, unlike a “child” of 15, who is almost an adult. A child of 6 may already have such scars that a family is not equipped to deal with in any way (economically, etc.)

    It’s similar to saying “you became pregnant wanting to have a child, why have an abortion after discovering Down’s Syndrome (or something worse)? If you wanted to have a child, you would agree to any child”. I strongly disagree with this approach. A potential great parent =/= agreeing to everything person.

    // Wanting to sever contacts between a child and bio family just because it’s more convenient

    There is a huge difference between severing contracts and choosing a child, whose family decided to sever contracts.

    • “Several hundreds? Israel is built of immigrants, near 40% of today’s citizens over age 25 were born (!) abroad.”

      – I don’t understand what we are discussing. You spoke to all of them to determine how they feel? You can say how they would have felt if they had been taken by non-Jewish families to, say, Pakistan and raised there in isolation from their own culture, language, relatives?

      “It’s similar to saying “you became pregnant wanting to have a child, why have an abortion after discovering Down’s Syndrome (or something worse)? If you wanted to have a child, you would agree to any child”. ”

      – It would be nice of we could limit ourselves to just the issue at hand. Abortion has nothing whatsoever to do with this because in cases of abortion, no children are involved. We, however, are discussing children who are actual human beings and who already exist. Of course, now this entire thread will be derailed by the discussion of fetuses. I know it will.

      “There is a huge difference between severing contracts and choosing a child, whose family decided to sever contracts.”

      – Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. don’t get consulted when a child is left at an orphanage. And then again, they sever contacts today and decide to reestablish them tomorrow. At least, they need to be given that chance.

      I know a woman who adopted 2 children from China. When she was there to pick up baby #2, the baby’s mother would come weeping to the hospital, begging to hold the baby for the last time. The woman refused because it was inconvenient to her to deal with all that drama. You should have heard the way she was discussing the birth mother. Contemptuous doesn’t even begin to describe it. A year later, she told me that adopting these kids was a huge mistake and she wished she never did it. Just think about it. A baby was deprived of being held by her mother for the last time ever because a rich Canadian woman had a whim she later repented of.

      • // Abortion has nothing whatsoever to do with this because in cases of abortion, no children are involved.

        It’s similar in application of principle that wanting to have a child = being ready for any child. In case of abortion, one sometimes can abort, in cases of adoption – adopt another child, possibly abroad.

        Also many (most?) abnormalities are discovered in 2nd trimester and later. So it’s not 1 month’s old fetus. From 5 months, “fetuses” can already cry. But lets not talk about it here. Look only at 1st paragraph.

      • This woman is horrible.

        Lets forbid all adoptions everywhere? Inside a country adopted children can still be abused and even killed.

        // – Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. don’t get consulted when a child is left at an orphanage.

        I think they can as relatives easily get permission to raise a deserted child who is their relative.

        // And then again, they sever contacts today and decide to reestablish them tomorrow. At least, they need to be given that chance.

        Given this chance, which has a low % of happening, while a child is getting destroyed for life now? If they decide to do it after the damage to a kid is already done, it will be too late for the child.

  13. We have already found the following answers:
    1) racism;
    2) age;
    3) an opportunity to isolate the child from its birth family;
    4) lack of any control over what happens to the child.
    These sound like really wonderful, respectable reasons.

    About racism – since it’s such a loaded topic in US, following your logic, wouldn’t adopting white parents from a “white” part of US, with hardly any black acquaintances, rob children of their black heritage / culture?

    Imo since race, unlike being born in Russia, is seen and people react to it, the only black child at school, in adopting family, everywhere will have problems bigger than adopted white child.

    Age – we will agree to disagree. People don’t get biological children out of “pure” self-sacrificial reasons either. People in general have a selfish component in everything they do. Doesn’t make all humanity monsters.

    And not wanting to take a child with more problems than one can mentally / economically / etc. handle is responsible, moral and good for all in the end. A family may be able to raise a great child from a young age, but not cope with a child with severe problems, which is the usual situation among older children scarred in orphanages for years.

    3 – I already reacted to it. TitForTat reminded me that in cases of criminal, drug addicted, violent biological parents, adopting parents may be afraid of them and want to help a child, whose adoption wouldn’t put them and their relatives in all kinds of danger.

    4 is wrong and US laws concerning it must be changed.

    • // We have already found the following answers:
      1) racism;
      2) age;
      3) an opportunity to isolate the child from its birth family;
      4) lack of any control over what happens to the child.
      These sound like really wonderful, respectable reasons.

      About racism – since it’s such a loaded topic in US, following your logic, wouldn’t adopting white parents from a “white” part of US, with hardly any black acquaintances, rob children of their black heritage / culture?

      Imo since race, unlike being born in Russia, is seen and people react to it, the only black child at school, in adopting family, everywhere will have problems bigger than adopted white child.

      ********************* There are huge discussions of this in US, and a lot of Black social workers are against interracial adoption, in part because white parents won’t know how to teach kids to deal with racism (often true). One of my adopted kids is black but I didn’t take him out of community, away from relatives and friends, etc. Clarissa´s point is that people adopt from Russia to get a white child / a child that looks like them, not because white children will have fewer problems in their local school (although I guarantee the latter is the excuse they make).

      Age – we will agree to disagree. People don’t get biological children out of “pure” self-sacrificial reasons either. People in general have a selfish component in everything they do. Doesn’t make all humanity monsters.

      And not wanting to take a child with more problems than one can mentally / economically / etc. handle is responsible, moral and good for all in the end. A family may be able to raise a great child from a young age, but not cope with a child with severe problems, which is the usual situation among older children scarred in orphanages for years.

      **************************** Yes but there is a healthy 4 year old, no intellectual problems either, available in my state now. If I adopt him it is true that I won’t get to do the baby thing, the first steps and first words and all, and he’s a boy and Black, but: spend tens of thousands just so I can get a designer baby from abroad … a white girl, for instance, would fit me best … a-hem. I sort of question the parenting motives of people who would make that choice.

      3 – I already reacted to it. TitForTat reminded me that in cases of criminal, drug addicted, violent biological parents, adopting parents may be afraid of them and want to help a child, whose adoption wouldn’t put them and their relatives in all kinds of danger.

      *************************** Here is demonizing the criminalized poor. Most people actually convicted of crimes aren’t dangerous. The kids know who they don’t want to see, and you get social workers and stuff on this. There are the kids of mothers who are doing long sentences for having killed abusive fathers; do you really want to sever contact between your child and their ex-mother who really appreciates their having a good home? Come on.

      4 is wrong and US laws concerning it must be changed.

      • Z said everything I wanted to say here, so I don’t see the need to repeat what she said.

        “Here is demonizing the criminalized poor. Most people actually convicted of crimes aren’t dangerous. The kids know who they don’t want to see, and you get social workers and stuff on this. There are the kids of mothers who are doing long sentences for having killed abusive fathers; do you really want to sever contact between your child and their ex-mother who really appreciates their having a good home? Come on.”

        – Yes. Precisely.

  14. I am coming late to this discussion but I am surprised how strongly people defend international adoption. While I don’t agree with Clarissa that everybody should be in contact with their biological parents (biological parents are sometimes best forgotten), I think adoptions should happen domestically. The international adoption business is a virtual “global baby trade”: people literally buying babies. To me, International adoption always seems marked by troubling motivations.I think that international adoption generally happens for a couple of reasons:

    1) The desire for a “white” baby (which someone mentioned up thread.) These are the parents that will adopt from Eastern Europe. If race is that important to the adoptive parents, I doubt their ability to successfully raise a child from a different culture.

    2) The desire to “save” a child from a developing country. In this case, the prospective parents go out of their way to adopt a child from a different race. The child becomes a trophy—a symbol of their magnanimity and compassion. Angelina Jolie is a perfect example of this–she collects children like purses. Many times, these adoptive parents are missionary workers and also subject the child to conversion. It’s sort of new spin on “White Man’s Burden”–neo-imperialism in action.

    Of course I am generalizing up above. As Sister comments, gay couples sometimes turn to international adoption. Other than the example of gay couples however, I really can’t think of one good reason why prospective parents would want to avoid domestic adoption in favor international adoption.

    Again, I want to stay that I do think adoption is a great thing. But it needs to be done tenderly, with thought, and with oversight. Participating in some global ring of baby purchasing just asks for trouble.

    • “While I don’t agree with Clarissa that everybody should be in contact with their biological parents (biological parents are sometimes best forgotten)”

      – I agree, all I’m saying is that this is something that one can only decide for oneself.

      “The international adoption business is a virtual “global baby trade”: people literally buying babies. To me, International adoption always seems marked by troubling motivations”

      – That’s exactly what I’m saying. Yay! I haven’t been abandoned to struggle with this on my own. :-)

      “As Sister comments, gay couples sometimes turn to international adoption. Other than the example of gay couples however, I really can’t think of one good reason why prospective parents would want to avoid domestic adoption in favor international adoption.”

      – With the current level of homophobia in Russia, I cannot imagine a gay couple being able to adopt from that country.

      “Many times, these adoptive parents are missionary workers and also subject the child to conversion. It’s sort of new spin on “White Man’s Burden”–neo-imperialism in action.”

      – Exactly.

  15. In many cases, local adoption is difficult because there is a waiting list for good, ordinary babies. There is a severe shortage of parents and couples willing to adopt special needs kids, like those with disabilities, certain genetic diseases, or those who suffered severe abuse. People don’t want to put in the extra effort, so they go for the “easy babies”.

    • “People don’t want to put in the extra effort, so they go for the “easy babies”.”

      – Yes, consumerism unleashed. “Wrap me up a perfect, healthy, blond, blue-eyed infant. No, not that one, the one in the corner. He looks like my husband’s father. We can even name him after my father-in-law.”

    • \\ People don’t want to put in the extra effort, so they go for the “easy babies”.

      Many families undergo great suffering after birth of their biological child with big problems. For various reasons: mental, economical, etc. Often a man divorces and a woman has to deal with it all alone. “extra effort” sounds too easy. There have been cases of parents breaking under the strain and killing their own child.

      Most people aren’t heroes, and wouldn’t choose to raise “not easy” (read: extremely difficult) child themselves. Demanding heroism from adopting parents, which isn’t demanded of biological parents, is not right imo.

      And I don’t even talk of health insurance in US, how much physical and mental health problems *cost* to treat. Not all adopting parents have enough money for that.

      • How did you parse my words to get that I was demanding extra effort of foster parents? All I did was mention that most of them didn’t want to adopt a special needs child.

    • And I forgot to add the question of what happens when a child will never become independent. Does “extra effort” definition cover it too?

  16. Thanks for your perspective on this, Clarissa. I am very much against International Adoption, and this is informed from my family and my culture’s own experiences with adoption. It wasn’t “international” per se, but it was common practice in North America in the sixties and seventies for white families to take Native children out of their homes, in order to give them a chance at “a better life”. The children in these adoptions lost their culture, their languages, and their connections to their families during what came to be known as “the sixties scoop”. The families and Canadian/American governments were well-intentioned, wanting to give the children a chance at what they perceived as a “better” life, but if the words of adults who were once adoptees hold any weight, it’s a traumatic and painful experience which nobody should ever have to go through. Adults who were once international adoptees also seem to concur, I seem to recall many of them signing a petition opposing international adoption regulations being loosened.

    • Well, I’m glad to see that you support me on this. I have started to feel like a voice clamoring in the desert.

      “The families and Canadian/American governments were well-intentioned, wanting to give the children a chance at what they perceived as a “better” life, but if the words of adults who were once adoptees hold any weight, it’s a traumatic and painful experience which nobody should ever have to go through.”

      – That’s the thing, whenever one decides that one knows what’s better for another human being in such an enormously crucial area of life, there is too much probability that the results will not be good.

      “Adults who were once international adoptees also seem to concur, I seem to recall many of them signing a petition opposing international adoption regulations being loosened.”

      – I’m not surprised.

      • It’s like I’ve said before: Good intentions pave the road to Hell. And the fact that people are so dismissive of the stories and testimonies and feelings of adult adoptees makes my eyebrows rise right into my hairline, because if they’re so flippant towards adults, what’s going to happen when the kids raise concerns to them?

    • Jane, you are describing a completely different situation. Those children had loving families, the children I talk about – don’t. I talk of left by their relatives children, whose life most often is wasted, destroyed afterwards.

      The one connection I can see to this post’s discussion, is asking whether, in your opinion, it’s better to a Native child in an orphanage to stay there or to be adopted to a non-Native family in US.

  17. // And do you think that it’s impossible for adoptive parents to be sensitive to the adopted child’s cultural background and heritage?

    What does “being sensitive” mean in practice? Teach a child Russian because she was born in Russia, though raised in US from a little age? Teach Russian history and read her Russian books in translation?

    The only thing I can think of is answering child’s questions and see where he will want to take it himself.

    • “What does “being sensitive” mean in practice?”

      – Whatever it means, there is currently a huge waiting line of people willing to adopt right there in Russia. Can anybody offer a single argument as to why children should be handed over (sold, to put it bluntly) to foreigners instead of willing adoptive parents within the country who speak the kids’ language (remember that infants cannot be adopted by people from overseas anyway)?

      “Teach a child Russian because she was born in Russia”

      – These children all speak their own language at the time they are adopted.

      • I am with you. The main question is…..why are parents trying so hard to adopt internationally when their are plenty of unwanted children in this country? I posted the reasons why I think people do it up above so I won’t do it again. But I would like to know a _good_ reason why people are circumventing American social services in order to adopt (or buy) internationally

        • ” But I would like to know a _good_ reason why people are circumventing American social services in order to adopt (or buy) internationally”

          – That’s the 1 mln-dollar question. I haven’t seen a good reason yet.

  18. Wasn’t there a case of Artyom Savelyev, adopted by Torry Hansen and then later returned after a few months when she grew tired of him ? I thought Russia banned US adoptions back then.
    P.S She sent the kid alone, with just a note, lied to him and paid an unknown guy to deliver him to Russian authorities.

  19. From what I have always understood, people that are looking to adopt explore local and international adoption simultaneously. The process can be extremely long and costly in either case. Local adoption means a higher chance of adopting a healthy infant, so I disagree that international adoption is more selfish.

    On a side note, I think that it’s offensive to use ‘adopt’ and ‘buy’ interchangeably not only towards adoptive parents but to adoptees, as well.

    • “On a side note, I think that it’s offensive to use ‘adopt’ and ‘buy’ interchangeably not only towards adoptive parents but to adoptees, as well.”

      – It’s an apt description, though. As I said, there is a huge waiting line for adoptable children in Russia. The only reason that foreigners get to adopt before local people do is that they can pay more money (in bribes, obviously).

      “The process can be extremely long and costly in either case.”

      – Fostering is not only free, it actually brings you money as the state pays foster parents the costs of keeping a child. In reality, there is no shortage of children in need of a family either here or in Russia. The only reason a problem arises is that people only want children whose parents have lost parental rights. Such children are, indeed, few because removing parental rights altogether is a very complicated process (as it well should be) both here and in Russia. If people agreed to foster, there would be no long and costly process for them. But if they insist on adopting, there will always be a shortage of adoptable children for them. As a result, people go to poorer countries where the long waiting line can be subverted with money. Basically, the folks who have more money win, like at an auction. I don’t think this is right and I’m glad Russia is stopping this.

      • // – Fostering is not only free, it actually brings you money as the state pays foster parents the costs of keeping a child.

        Why give birth to a child at all, if one can foster many already existing children instead and even get money? For similar reasons people prefer adoption over fostering. Most people want to create “a unit” or “a family” with children: biological children –> adoption of kids without parents –> fostering.

        • “Most people want to create “a unit” or “a family” with children: biological children –> adoption of kids without parents”

          – And to hell with what’s best for the kids. Step aside, whiny babies, let’s first service the wants of well-paying adult customers. Right?

        • “Why give birth to a child at all, if one can foster many already existing children instead and even get money?”

          – If we are looking for reasons, then there are quite a few that motivate people to have biological children over fostering: the desire to experience pregnancy, continuing the blood line, joining your genes with those of the person you love, creating a life that continues both yours and that of your partner, and the realization that you will not be able to love anybody who does not share your genes. None of these reasons can be present in either adoption or fostering, so your analogy is moot.

      • Why can’t one, using a logic very similar to yours, claim that giving birth in a world of many existing suffering children is morally suspect? That if those biological parents really wanted a child, age / fostering / any mental & physical health problems / [whatever you throw at them] wouldn’t matter?

        • “Why can’t one, using a logic very similar to yours, claim that giving birth in a world of many existing suffering children is morally suspect?”

          – I don’t understand the question. What do you mean, “why can’t one”? One can make absolutely any argument one want. Many people hold these beliefs and don;t have children as a result of these beliefs. I respect that.

  20. Local adoption is nearly impossible for single parents and those 40 y/o +, which is another reason why many choose int’l adoption versus local.

    Fostering is more complex than parenting and adoption combined, and so it seems unnecessarily dismissive to question all adoptive parents’ motivation if they decide not to foster.

    • “Local adoption is nearly impossible for single parents and those 40 y/o +, which is another reason why many choose int’l adoption versus local.”

      – It is as difficult in Russia. The only reason foreigners can do it in Russia is that they have more money, that’s all. How is that not a trade in babies?

    • // Local adoption is nearly impossible for single parents and those 40 y/o +

      And I would guess that with new cultural trends of marrying later & trying to have the first child in (later) 30ies, more people belonging to both groups exist each year.

      I personally know a single Israeli woman, who adopted 2 girls from abroad. To adopt from Israel would be impossible to her.

      In an Israeli newspaper once was an article about some women who, still single in late 30ies and early 40ies, decide to give birth via artificial insemination as a single parent. It is not always easy or even possible, so I would guess those who find it impossible turn to adopting from abroad.

      • “In an Israeli newspaper once was an article about some women who, still single in late 30ies and early 40ies, decide to give birth via artificial insemination as a single parent. It is not always easy or even possible, so I would guess those who find it impossible turn to adopting from abroad.”

        – In Russia, there is the same trend, so Russia cannot be a good choice for adoption based on this consideration. People in Russia wait for up to 10 years in an adoption queue.

      • “I personally know a single Israeli woman, who adopted 2 girls from abroad. To adopt from Israel would be impossible to her.”

        – Are you saying that she should be given preference in adopting a child in Russia over a woman in Russia who wants to adopt for the exact same reason simply because she has more money?

      • // Are you saying that she should be given preference in adopting a child in Russia over a woman in Russia who wants to adopt for the exact same reason simply because she has more money?

        I tried to explain what not sinister motives may move people to adopt from abroad.
        She adopted not from Russia, but no matter.

        // And to hell with what’s best for the kids.

        For kids it is better to be adopted than to be left in an orphanage. May be it’s better from a certain pov to foster a kid with severe mental and/or physical problems than to adopt a (usually only *relatively* healthy) young child, but more people can and want do latter than former. They would be good biological parents, good parents for adopted children, but wouldn’t want to foster (or adopt) a child with more problems than they can handle. They are not monsters or horrible people because of that, unless you want to call most of humanity horrible.

        // Many people hold these beliefs and don;t have children as a result of these beliefs. I respect that.

        But you also respect the position of not calling all biological parents selfish for not adopting. Here adopting from abroad parents look like kind of moral monsters because of not fostering, while many of them are completely usual people.

        • “For kids it is better to be adopted than to be left in an orphanage.”

          – The issue here is adopted by whom. Why should these kids be adopted by foreigners and not by local families?

    • Fostering is actually much easier, especially to start. The kids up for adoption locally in my state are 4 at the youngest right now, and most are teens. You have to get to know each other without the pressure of a final decision and they mostly have siblings and relatives that you really don’t want to cut them off from.

      • I wasn’t clear on my comment. I wasn’t referring to the simplicity of the actual process of fostering a child, but rather to the complexity of it. Taking in a child, trying to build a relationship and a parent-child dynamic in a situation of uncertainty sounds incredibly challenging.

        • *Everything* is so uncertain in these situations. It is good to be able to get to know each other with a lower stakes agreement. It is great to let the child have time to truly choose you.

  21. // – If we are looking for reasons, then there are quite a few that motivate people to have biological children over fostering: the desire to experience pregnancy, continuing the blood line, joining your genes with those of the person you love, creating a life that continues both yours and that of your partner, and the realization that you will not be able to love anybody who does not share your genes. None of these reasons can be present in either adoption or fostering, so your analogy is moot.

    Why do you think many women undergo horrible fertility treatments rather than fostering or adopting?

    Another powerful reason moving them, which you conveniently for your argument didn’t mention, is the desire to have mentally and physically healthy child.

    • // Another powerful reason moving them, which you conveniently for your argument didn’t mention, is the desire to have mentally and physically healthy child.

      The chance of that increases as the child’s age decreases.
      The less time spent at orphanage – the better for child’s health. Mental and physical.

    • “Why do you think many women undergo horrible fertility treatments rather than fostering or adopting?”

      – They tie their entire gender identity to being perfect little breeders. It’s a tragic legacy of the patriarchy.

      • Imo this answer is too simplicistic. You yourself previously mentioned many reasons to have a biological child, why such shallow explanation now?

        You answer based on your feelings about life, which you’ve previously mentioned on this blog: for biological children, but against fertility treatments. And I think your feelings blind you here. Other people have different feelings, often without any connection to any patriarchy, and their position doesn’t make them “perfect little breeders”, “slaves to patriarchy” or in any way inferior to your feelings.

        I can understand undergoing this in order to have a healthy child in the end with much-much bigger probability, wanting to be a real mother (you yourself said that nobody can fill biological mother’s place, and I would prefer this biological half of family from mother’s side being mine, not alien to me and most likely not very good people) and because of fear “that you will not be able to love anybody who does not share your genes”. None of this is connected to being a “perfect breeder”.

      • // – Let’s try to stay respectful, OK? I’m sure you can conduct the discussion without insulting the interlocutor.

        I didn’t mean to be disrespectful to you. I see now I went over the limit here, referring to personal info:

        “You answer based on your feelings about life, which you’ve previously mentioned on this blog: for biological children, but against fertility treatments.”

        Without this bit, I do think the quoted sentence is right and explained why.

        • I have absolutely no feelings about the subject of fertility treatments, adoptions, fostering, international adoptions, etc. None of this has any relation to my life. The only subject where I do have feelings are the rights of children.

          If people choose to torture themselves with fertility treatments or any other things they might choose to do to their own bodies, that’s their right. Of course, I reserve the right to express opinions about their choices.

    • - Why do you think many women undergo horrible fertility treatments rather than fostering or adopting?

      Why? Because they want a trophy and a mirror, not a child. A true woman is one who gives birth, etc., so they need to !!!

      – Another powerful reason moving them, which you conveniently for your argument didn’t mention, is the desire to have mentally and physically healthy child.

      Which is not guaranteed. But if you adopt an older child you can know for sure it is healthy.

      • // Why? Because they want a trophy and a mirror, not a child. A true woman is one who gives birth, etc., so they need to !!!

        Z, would you use the same argument about average family with biological children?
        They too can adopt. But most people don’t. So, most 2 parent families want a mirror, according to your logic, no?

  22. Re “fear ‘that you will not be able to love anybody who does not share your genes'”

    … this is problematic, though. Red flags for overinvolvement – enmeshment – overidentification (“I love the child not for itself but because it shares my genes”). It is not fun to be the child of someone who loves you to the extent you replicate them.

    (People bond with PETS for heaven’s sake, and these are not even of the same species. You make friends with and fall in love with people who do not share your genes.)

    • // You make friends with and fall in love with people who do not share your genes.

      You don’t make friends or fall in love with everybody. Especially in cases of older children, you have another already brought up in a certain environment person in front of you, not a pet. I can’t compare the depth and complexity of a relationship (from both sides) with a person to that of one with a cat.

      Because of animals being shallower than people, it’s much easier to “bond” with them. “Bond”, not bond, since using the same verb to describe a relationship with a person vs with an animal is misleading.

      • Well, your biological child may not resemble you and may resemble your most hated relative. I don’t think people who “want” a child but are not sure they can love them unless the child resembles them, are setting themselves up for a positive relationship with said child.

        If it is important that the child share your interests and attitudes when older, you are actually better off adopting someone older, not hoping biology will take care of this.

  23. “These international and especially intercontinental adoptions are hugely problematic. A decision to emigrate is a very very complex one. It is a decision that transforms one’s life, a decision that always carries a wealth of consequences. As a two-time immigrant, I can tell you that an emigration that involves moving for good to a country that speaks a different language and has a different culture is one of the most traumatic events of one’s life. Of course, the concept of trauma does not have to be negative in every case, yet this is not something that people should inflict on somebody else out of a whim.”

    I agree. But what of people who are born in one country and immigrate with their parents when they are very young (but old enough to remember)? What of people who are too young to have acquired language when they immigrate? And what of other nations? Russia is very distinct. I’m not sure a child adopted from Russia, by say, British parents in the UK, wouldn’t have the same sorts of problems. Does the United States drive international adoptions? (I can’t find information on this.)

    Reading upthread: Had I been brought up in the country of my birth I would probably have a very different relationship to my extended family. I would most likely be truly bilingual as my parents know how to speak three languages and probably write in three (which all have different scripts.) As it is, I do not know how to read my parents’ native language and know very limited phrases.

    I have been nodding my head throughout this book, you might find it interesting in a very general way (some of this stuff may seem very obvious, though): Third Culture Kids

    • // what of people who are born in one country and immigrate with their parents when they are very young (but old enough to remember)?

      I immigrated in my teens and, as in most such cases, had zero choice in the matter. As it happens, I am happy in Israel as most other immigrants’ children, but we had no choice at the time.

      • “I immigrated in my teens and, as in most such cases, had zero choice in the matter. ”

        – What do you mean, zero choice? I find it hard to believe that your relatives didn’t discuss this with you. It isn;t like you can pack a teenager up and just move him or her.

  24. // If people choose to torture themselves with fertility treatments or any other things they might choose to do to their own bodies, that’s their right. Of course, I reserve the right to express opinions about their choices.

    Of course. But I don’t understand your logic here at all.
    A) you acknowledge numerous reasons for wanting biological children and view this decision as very legitimate.
    B) you equate all women deciding to undergo fertility treatments with “good little breaders”, a very scornful phrase. To where have all reasons from A disappeared? If they are validly important to people, well, people are ready to invest a lot into truly important to them things.

    • “you equate all women deciding to undergo fertility treatments with “good little breaders”, a very scornful phrase. To where have all reasons from A disappeared? If they are validly important to people, well, people are ready to invest a lot into truly important to them things.”

      – I find masochism of any sort (outside of a strictly sexual context) to be suspect. What is so surprising about that? You were the one who started talking not about fertility treatments but about “horrible fertility treatments.” I assume that by horrible you mean the kind that include suffering, pain, and health risks. Any good idea becomes suspect when carried to an extreme. For instance, wanting to meet a guy you will like is a good thing. But if you mutilate your body and inflict pain upon yourself to attract that potential guy, this is whole different kettle of fish.

      • Pregnancy includes health risks and suffering (except for giving birth, it’s very hard for some women – puking all the time, etc.) too, as any treatments. There is a line somewhere, but I don’t put it at beginning of treatments. (I called all of them horrible in that sentence, not something special).

        Btw, have you read the pingback to your post whether the shooter was mentally ill? He says US should do nothing at all about such cases because it is the price of freedom. Do you think something should be done, or not?

        In an Israeli newspaper I read his mother wanted to hospitalize him because of mental problems, and it contributed to the shooting. Pity she didn’t do it earlier.

  25. – To where have all reasons from A disappeared?

    Well, everything in moderation. Biological children are fun but not to be fetishized.

      • Well, the thing is that if you adopt and you don’t have huge resources, or perhaps even if you do, you actually want the child to have contact with siblings, original parents, etc. if they’re not too crazy-destructive. If they have parents in jail, for instance, and they have any interest in these parents, it’s for the best that you take them to visit. You have to consider that it is a two way thing. It is not just they who are joining you — you are also joining them.

      • // If they have parents in jail, for instance,

        Not having to deal with potentially dangerous people is another great reason not to adopt so, but find a child left by relatives or have fertility treatments.

        ” if they’re not too crazy-destructive” – you have to meet them first in many cases to see how so they’re, and then – too late for you.

  26. “if you adopt and you don’t have huge resources, or perhaps even if you do”

    I mean: I think the underlying assumption in a lot of this discussion is that you are upper middle class, very comfortable, and you have a complete environment to offer. All you are going to do is add the child to that. This is a fantasy at best and can only really apply if you get an infant. But if you adopt in the community you may just be you and your house and your minor resources, and the child may already have some connections of their own, and these may not be all bad. I favor using these if you can do so in a positive way, not eschewing them. It makes for a smoother transition and a richer life for all.

      • El, here is the Louisiana prospective adoptive parent quiz. http://www.dss.state.la.us/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=196 What they ask for is adequate for health and safety but is not really a lot and you actually need more resources, more community and more support than just this to raise a child.

        If they have siblings or other relatives that they care about and you don’t cut them off from them, they will be happier and like you better, and those relatives will be supportive of you.

        *

        Also and in another key, I am not convinced this dream of a nuclear family that is “just us” is healthy at all. I totally see wanting only a healthy and mentally alert child to adopt — I couldn’t have handled more and have a lot to offer for people who are smart and able to be active, it seemed silly to waste this — but I think this idea people seem to have, they will have a perfect house and adopt a perfect child that they cut off from its relatives and install like a new stove or something, is very unrealistic.

  27. This conversation is disturbing to me. A baby is not like an exotic plant that you can simply grab from Russia, plop in Tennessee and hope that it takes to its new environment. The need to know about one’s biological parents and ethnic heritage is very real and extremely powerful for many adopted children. Severing, or at best, severely complicating this possibility just because you were desperate for a baby is extremely selfish.

  28. It seems lost on many people here but the facts are, most children in orphanges already had the family tie severed, by, guess who, the biological parents. This wonderful ethnic and familial heritage does not seem to be a two way street in most cases.

    • Indeed.

      I agree that if there is a suitable candidate from a home country, he should be given a priority compared with international adoption, but I am against making a child grow in an orphanage in the often vain hope that this adopting family from his home country will appear. And not only appear, but do so before irreversible damage to a child has already been done. Many children in Russia are never adopted and forbidding international adoption will make their numbers grow.

      For me, ethnic and familial heritage is less important than getting a chance to develop into a normal person.

      • Normal person by whose definition? My colleague is convinced this is what he is giving the children he “adopted” (I would in fact say bought) from Guatemala. I am betting they would have developed normally there, perhaps more normally, and to save them and their families from poverty one could have sent money, less than it would cost to raise them here.

    • “It seems lost on many people here but the facts are, most children in orphanges already had the family tie severed, by, guess who, the biological parents.”

      This makes no difference at all to an adopted child whose identity feels fundamentally unstable. One’s biological family turn out to be a pack of drug addicts, but that’s a different issue than not knowing.

      • Marceline

        I have a family member who gave up their child at birth and desperately longed for that biological connection and as it turned out so did her biological son. If he could take it back(their meeting), Im sure he would in a heartbeat. The fucked up stuff that transpired after, put to rest(for him at least) how much better off he was without her and how grateful he was for his real parents(adoptive). I have a sneaky suspicion for many adoptees there reunion with the egg or sperm donor is rarely a happily ever after scenario.

        • “I have a sneaky suspicion for many adoptees there reunion with the egg or sperm donor is rarely a happily ever after scenario.”

          – For many people, their relationship with the parents who gave birth to them and brought them up is less than happy. This doesn’t mean, however, that all these people (including me, for example) would be better off never knowing their parents. Human relationships are rarely, if ever, 100% blissful. This doesn’t mean that everybody would be better off living in isolation.

    • Are you really sure? I know the post is on Russia about which I know nothing, but my students, twins adopted from Korea, were put in the orphanage because of school and healthcare, their mother was really broke after their father left so she made this decision, but visited regularly, and always visits the orphanage to get the reports on how it is going for them in US.

      • @titfortat — my “are you sure” comment was actually a response to your 7:43 AM comment, not sure why it posted here.

        I am posting here from the open adoption point of view, not the search for semi mythical birth parents point of view, but on the reunions of the type you mention, I see your point.

        Last I visited my parents someone called, it was the adult child of some cousin of his who had been adopted out, lived in the area and interested to know about the family. I would have said, come on over, and would have been fascinated to meet them. My father was very cold and got rid of them. Explained his assumption was they would want money.

      • Z

        I totally understand where you are coming from. My beef is with the idea that international adoption is bad because of how it affects the adoptee’s culture and ethnicity and all that stuff. I think its important to realize that may be the case for some but not for all. The truth is we probably couldnt even put a number on how many are affected from both a positive and negative way(too many variables). This is one area where I could possibly agree with Clarissa about the big bad patriarchy. It seems there were cultures in the past that didnt have such a yearning for paternal awareness because the community raised the children together and the mother probably had many “sperm” donors so no one would be exactly sure who the genetic match was. In those cultures the children were content and well adjusted knowing they had many fathers. :)
        Since agriculture and property rights things sure have changed.

        • “This is one area where I could possibly agree with Clarissa about the big bad patriarchy. It seems there were cultures in the past that didnt have such a yearning for paternal awareness because the community raised the children together and the mother probably had many “sperm” donors so no one would be exactly sure who the genetic match was”

          – I’m really starting to get fed up with your insistence on assigning these ridiculous and vapid mewlings to me. Please, stop doing that now.

  29. el: // If they have parents in jail, for instance,

    Not having to deal with potentially dangerous people is another great reason not to adopt so, but find a child left by relatives or have fertility treatments.

    ” if they’re not too crazy-destructive” – you have to meet them first in many cases to see how so they’re, and then – too late for you.

    **To me, this all sounds incredibly selfish and also self satisfied and prejudiced.**

    • **To me, this all sounds incredibly selfish and also self satisfied and prejudiced.**

      “Prejudiced”, as it is used in this case, seems a politically correct term to me. If not desiring to have criminals, drug users or even “only” alcoholics in one’s life makes one prejudiced nowadays, I am OK to be so. (*) Why should I take a huge risk of destroying my only life with taking those people in? Not see myself as a superwoman able to cope with extra-hard, likely dangerous situations. There are many stories of even parents (!) cutting off their drug using biological children, who stole from them, even threatened them if not given money.

      (*) I don’t say all parents of left children belong to those groups, but aren’t they a majority? Why would normal parents leave their own children? Before teen girls were forced to give up their babies, now thankfully abortion is easier to get and with less stigma, more feel ready to be teen mothers. Do people in US now really leave their children because of poverty?

      // they will have a perfect house and adopt a perfect child that they cut off from its relatives and install like a new stove or something

      To prevent misunderstandings, I don’t think cutting off from existing relatives is OK. Accept cases of physical danger.

      • Or I should say: it doesn’t sound as though you have a lot of experience. It seems you are basing yourself on “stories of…” and also a lot of fear of and stereotypes about the poor.

        I do not know whether this is the right place in the thread to insert it but I think it is worth repeating that a lot of these theorizers on adoption, or adoptive parents do seem to think of the child as something they want to acquire and to whom they do not wish to allow a history. Contra that, I would say that when you adopt, they are also adopting you; you are also joining them and their history, not wiping off their hard disks, so to speak, putting them on reset and starting them off tabula rasa again. They are people, not dolls.

        • “I think it is worth repeating that a lot of these theorizers on adoption, or adoptive parents do seem to think of the child as something they want to acquire and to whom they do not wish to allow a history. Contra that, I would say that when you adopt, they are also adopting you; you are also joining them and their history, not wiping off their hard disks, so to speak, putting them on reset and starting them off tabula rasa again. They are people, not dolls.”

          – Exactly. I couldn’t agree more. This is why I believe that the so-called “closed adoptions” are completely immoral. I think we should all listen to Z who has experience in the area of bringing up adopted children.

          • They both have some things in common with me and with their mothers, but really resemble their fathers’ families. These families have no interest in them but still they like having info on them, knowing where their genetic traits come from, figuring out that there were a lot of people in that family who had their same college major, stuff like that.

            • “still they like having info on them, knowing where their genetic traits come from, figuring out that there were a lot of people in that family who had their same college major, stuff like that.”

              – This kind of knowledge is crucial for a person’s identity.

    • To make clearer, since this post is against international adoption, I talked about adopting from US in US in the previous comment.

      • Talking about adopting from home is relevant because people justify international adoption based on views and beliefs about adopting from home that really reveal how egocentric their idea to parent is. I pity anyone they’d adopt or give birth to, really.

        Here’s a list of kids available in my state today http://www.adoptuskids.org/states/la/browse.aspx — I am now tempted by some of them. I thought I was done raising kids but gosh, some of these I think I could really get along with and plus, I would learn more about current youth culture and everything.

        What I object to in all these justifications about how you have to have a white newborn with no family connections or disabilities, etc., and no history is the same as what I object to in a lot of other parenthood fantasies: people are focused on a pretty picture of themself as parent, but do not necessarily actually like kids or care about them.

  30. @ El — Giving up kids due to poverty, nowadays, yes.

    @titfortat “My beef is with the idea that international adoption is bad because of how it affects the adoptee’s culture and ethnicity and all that stuff. I think its important to realize that may be the case for some but not for all.”

    I am somewhat loath to criticize my friends who adopted a girl from a Chinese orphanage because the baby at 7 months (age at adoption) already had developed health problems from neglect at orphanage. Now she is 17 or something and doing well, and they are a traveling, study abroad promoting family and live in an area with a lot of Chinese, so… it is hard to say they did a bad thing although I do not know what the child thinks and although I am more comfortable with the baby adoption story of my other friends, who got a US baby in open adoption from a mother who wanted to do it and chose them.

    I have several colleagues who have adopted children from Guatemala and it is very troublesome to me. The big red flag is that they say things like, “I do not know or care where in Guatemala my child was born.” One of their kids’ birth mother had second thoughts after giving birth and the adopting parent did not care. Child is being well taken care of but the lack of respect for the point of origin on the parts of the adoptive parents is shocking.

  31. I have an aunt who adopted three siblings from Russia. She had two biological children who didn’t live up to her expectations, and I’m convinced she thought this was her re-do. To her credit, they were not lovely little baby dolls, they were various ages with clear personal problems (medical as well as mental, I believe). The laws of Russia at the time didn’t allow her transaction, and she actually had to have a meeting with Putin to get permission for it. It was all very dramatic. She started going to church for the first time ever, and tried to raise three Good Little Kids. Turns out, they had a mother all along and they all knew her. The oldest child had been instructed to keep the younger ones in line, including maintaining a loyalty only to their mother (not a bad thing in general, but not useful in the new life they’d been “given”). They were obviously traumatized by these events. Even though my aunt made a point of including their Russian heritage (language classes, visits to Russia, etc), she couldn’t compensate for what they’d been through. One became a teenage mother and another joined the army to avoid drug charges. There’s probably more drama, but this is only what I hear of third-person.

    And another aunt on the other side has two Guatemalan girls. They are deeply evangelical and wanted to save somebody, I think. It’s never that exciting to “save” poor white trash or an inner-city African American. It has to be somebody exotic, somebody who isn’t already a lost cause. I think she also feels gratified by strangers’ questions about their skin color….she gets to tell everybody who will listen about what a good woman she is for helping these poor dark girls. (Am I the only one who thinks it’s HILARIOUS for evangelical Americans to go as missionaries and preach to Latin-Americans? The average Guatemalan experiences more piety on a given Sunday than an American evangelical will all year). My aunt had four boys, and she desperately wanted girls. So…she’s brought these girls home and immediately started dressing them in homemade ankle-length dresses…the whole ten yards. These girls are spoiled absolutely rotten (apart from the home-schooled Bible weirdness) and won’t even speak with me because they think I am evil. FWIW, even their parents think I’m a decent person.

    In both these cases (obv based on experience, not statistics), kids were taken to satisfy a parent’s need. I think the need/desire to raise children and have a strong family is a good kind of selfish (should lead to win-win situations). A desire to raise children so that you can indoctrinate them, or so that you can make up for your past mistakes, is taking selfish too far. The problem with international adoptions is that, because of the distance and disconnection between the children’s past and future, it’s far too easy (psychologically) for American parents to consider and impose their own desires. The realities of adoption are much more stark when a biological father could sue for parental rights any time, when the child could walk past the place where she was born every day on the way to school. I totally agree with the idea that parents want a tabula rasa….except for those components of the past (like ethnicity) that support the adoption narratives parents build for themselves and use to impress their communities.

    • Thank you for sharing these stories, Elizabeth! I think there is nothing else to add to the thread after your contribution. This kind of scenario is precisely what I’ve tried to warn against.

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