I came across an interesting article written a couple of months ago in Toronto Life magazine. It's called About a Boy. It chronicles the very difficult experience that a Toronto couple had while adopting their second child from India. Local corruption and greed almost resulted in them not being able to bring their son home. The orphanage director basically extorted money from them. But, in the end, they got their child and returned to Canada with him.
I think these kind of stories need to be told. The reality is that there are many places where corruption is a way of life- bribery is expected, under-the-table deals are the norm, and sensibilities about the value of human life differ dramatically. And I'm not just talking about Bay Street! ;) The boy in the above story was 'too dark' to ever be adopted within India, so international adoption was his only hope of survival.
But, maybe these stories need to come with some disclaimers. For example, this couple did not appear to attempt to use an adoption agency. Rather, a relative who worked in India helped find the child and connected the parents to the orphanage. There are accredited adoption agencies in Canada, the US, and Europe that have successful adoption programs in India. I would bet money that the orphanages which participate in these programs do not behave in such unscrupulous ways. IF they did, they'd be cut from the program. In fact, there are lots of examples of successful and relatively uneventful adoptions from India. But it always seems to be the one that goes wrong which attracts the most interest.
What bothers me is that this kind of story feeds the public fear about international adoption. The kinds of things described in that article do not happen in international adoptions that are carried out through reputable adoption agencies.
WE all know that babies are not bought. WE all know that parents are not extorted for more money once they meet their child. But the public doesn't necessarily understand this. How many of you home with your children have been asked "How much did he/she cost?"? We haven't even got our son yet and already I've had people remark to me about how expensive this adoption must be. To which I reply, "Well, it will cost us a bit- especially that trip and 2 week stay half-way around the world for 4 people. I mean, you know how much it costs just to go to Disney!" Maybe that gives them some perspective. Maybe not.
So, I'm really conflicted about articles like "About the Boy". I hope it serves a purpose- like warning prospective families not to try a Do-It-Yourself adoption. But a little balance- just giving some facts about the run-of-the-mill, routine adoptions that help create families nearly every day- would be nice. Maybe that would give the public a little perspective. Maybe not.