About this Blog

 Pictures July 2009 056

This blog, All the Social Orphans, reflects my belief that we need to gather as much information as possible about children who are living out of parental care all over the world: where are they, how did they get there, how are they being treated by the national governments in their home countries? Over the years, I have gathered such data piecemeal, and I have decried the fact that there is no professional and objective body dedicated to the rights and interests of this huge cohort of children.

 It is my hope that many difficult and important questions concerning the welfare of these children can be debated and information exchanged. I would love to hear from orphanage workers and those on the front lines with children who live on their own, or in inadequate care situations.  It is out of far greater transparency that we can find our way to appropriate solutions for these children.

My own interest in children who live out of family care began on my first adoption journey nearly ten years ago.  Many people do not know what a child care institution looks like or feels like; do not appreciate the intense loneliness of children who live without families. In teaching International Children’s Rights in recent times, I have come to understand that children who are unprotected and vulnerable to one form of abuse will also be vulnerable to another; that there are many ways in which children who grow up without stable family life are exploited.

My own background is in Japanese and English literature, and in international law. I taught International Trade Law at University College Dublin for a number of years, and returned to the US in 2001, where I have been a law professor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, teaching Law of the European Union, public international law and International Children’s Rights.

I hope to focus on issues of abandonment, poverty, parental rights and the development of national policies in these areas. As the role of the United Nations in guiding child welfare policy is problematic, I hope to describe and discuss these issues as well.

 It has been a matter of great frustration to me that what we know about children live in these difficult circumstances is only what we can uncover almost by chance, through a painstaking, day by day process. It occurred to me that a blog might be a good way to continue this search in public, as it were—and with the help of anyone who has information to share.

A later addition to what I have said above:

Someone mentioned that I could be clearer about what I would like to happen with this blog.  I am looking for information that helps us to move beyond the static “camps” that speak to one another in this orphan debate. I understand that being open and honest may be difficult for orphanage workers, volunteers, advocates or other people who work in these systems and who have to maintain relationships with governments, to become guest bloggers–still, please try! I am happy to post credible comments anonymously if that helps….The main thing is to inject a sense of urgency into this debate, urgency that gets us past arguing endlessly about whether adoption is a good or a bad thing. Since the objectve investigative body that I called for in 2003 has not appeared, this blog is a direct action approach that seemed something I could do in the here and now.

I would be very happy to hear from any and all of you on these issues.



6 thoughts on “About this Blog

  1. Hi Sara,

    I’ve read many of your legal articles on international adoption, so I’m very happy to find your blog. I think you may have even written about my adoption case from Andhra Pradesh, India, in one of your articles — I’m not sure. Activists were able to persuade the courts to shut down intercountry adoption there in 2003 and we were prevented from bringing our child Haseena home, as were dozens of other families from the West. Most of those children remain institutionalized today. I think there’s a great need for more voices like yours, who recognize the need for international adoptions done in an ethical way. I’ve just started a blog of my own, and I will definitely direct readers to your site. Thanks for your work.

    • Sharon–How great to hear from you–we all followed your story with such emotion and interest. Anything you know about those children and where they ended up would be such welcome information. I will also read your blog! Thanks so very much for writing.
      Sara D

  2. Sara
    I love your blog – it’s a small ray of home in among all the trashing of adoptive and pr-adoptive parents as baby-hungry monsters, willing to stop at nothing – including trampling over the human rights of biological parents and their children – in order to fulfill their desire for a family.

    Do you have any reaction to the Schuster Institute (in Brandies University) and their work on corruption in international adoptions? Their latest report is entitled “Anatomy of an adoption crisis” – http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/09/07/anatomy_of_an_adoption_crisis

    The author, E.J. Graff, seems to have a very rigid and biaised view against IA and seems to have no problem getting published in the reputable press. I have no doubt that corruption occurs in adoption – as it occurs in every level of interaction between the developed and developing worlds.

    But to say that every international adoption is therefore open to question with the same brush is simplistic and reductive. No one seems to question whether anti-adoption writers have an agenda – they are always on the right side, while on the other side are the first-world, conscience-free, would-be parents, who will stop at nothing to get their way.

    I am so weary of this – aren’t you? Why is this agenda being constantly pushed right now? Is it UNICEF-led? And if so, why are certain countries targetted, and certain countries left alone?

    Sorry for ranting. Thank you again for your blog Sara. I really enjoy it.

    • Hi, Terry–Thanks for yours and sorry I have not been blogging as much as I should lately….I feel that the anti-IA commentary all takes place within a journalistic vacuum–there is so little sense of the international orphan crisis and so little objective coverage of it that the search for corruption becomes the whole story….Let’s stay on the case–the way forward has to be uncovering the empirical reality for the world’s social orphans!

  3. Hello Sara. Thanks for your blog. Just came across it. I have a blog about barrel children (not the ideal terminology). These are children separated from their biological parents (voluntarily) as a result of migration. For instance, parents migrate to the U.S. leaving their children behind in their native land to be cared for by relatives or friends. These children face many of the similar challenges that social orphans face. I have been shining a light on the practice of serial migration for over 20 years. Thanks for work on this issue.

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