My article featuring Joseph Kony

As it happens, I have recently posted an article to srrn that will be appearing in the Michigan State International Law Review in the near future….(see link below)

It went onto ssrn just as the Kony video by Invisible Children was”going viral”….My article is on the subject of what I believe should be a right under international law–the right of the ultra-vulnerable to humanitarian intervention on their behalf…..My prime example of a long running and completely unnecessary conflict is the war waged by Kony against the children of Uganda…I am delighted to see this terrible problem getting the mass attention it deserves! My article makes the point that an “international legal regime” worthy of the name would have a robust and effective solution for such problems. It is just not that hard to stop low-tech tyrants like Kony, where the international will exists to do so. Do check out the article!



Oh, Russian adoptions!!

Really, you must ask: What is it that people want? How much proof do we need that adoption has to be expanded, urgently?  The most recent bad news is that a Russian woman who hid the fact that she lives in the US adopted, and then abandoned, two adorable babies in Russia. This is tragic–an apparent act of madness–but like all the bad news on adoption, says little if anything about the overall and indisputable fact that adoption–much more of it–is needed for children who are growing up vulnerable and parentless. How can this message not be clear to all? Yet the journalistic machine cranks out the stories, with the message that adoption should be halted, adoption is profitable, adoption is wrong…!

Who are the people writing these articles??

A shout out to Sarah Ferguson!!

I know I have not been blogging much–a number of reasons, not least of which is the shocking downturn in international adoptions and the lack of public attention to the problem of orphans and their human rights….But some news items would bring anyone with a heart back to life!

Can you believe, can you imagine that Turkey is pursuing legal action against Sarah Ferguson for her “criminal” filming of children in horrific state-run institutions? Oh, my! Isn’t it Turkey that should be answering the world’s questions about their treatment of institutionalized children? Has any country voluntarily offered access to social orphans whose rights are being violated in this manner? It has always been the hidden camera that has brought the issue to life, and left countries sputtering to explain their complete lack of regard for the weakest and most vulnerable.

Now Sarah Ferguson cannot even travel, for fear of being extradited to Turkey to answer “charges”!! Isn’t this the new theme–don’t engage in “orphanage tourism”, as it might “violate the privacy of children”? Who do these national governments think they are fooling? Such double think–to expose the abusive conditions is to “violate the rights of children”! Well, I rather do not think so! It seems to me it is national policy that should be under urgent scrutiny.

We are not fooled, that is for sure.

See this CNN story providing a summary of the latest situation:

Should out to Sarah: We support your work, and your attempt to share the stories of abused children with the rest of the world! More on this later.

Can this be happening? The news from Kyrgyzstan….

When Kyrgyzstan closed down its international adoption program two years ago, many children with medical problems were left to…..wait and wait. Two children who had been matched with adoptive parents actually died from otherwise preventable illnesses while waiting. The grotesquerie of the human rights violations involved in such cases  is rarely if ever presented in that way–in the name of “tightening up” or even “protecting” the children, many are left with nothing–the months go on, the children grow, and their life prospects become increasingly grim….And this is not even to mention children who have not been freed for adoption–where are they? How many are there?

News today that Kyrgyzstan will be re-opening their program–but let’s watch and see how this unfolds.

 Usually, after a shut down, if there is a resumption of adoption at all, it is slow and small in scale. This is–incredibly and ironically–in the name of “caution”!!

Read the story here of the little boy with severe cleft palate–wanted and cherished by a couple in the United States–but kept in his home country for two years so that….so that….what?!

Policy madness–Korean adoption quotas!!

I guess if you put a country under enough “blame and shame” pressure, they will do anything to avoid further embarrassment.  It is hard to imagine a more insane policy than the one described here from the Korea Times–the Korean government placing numerical restrictions on Korean children being adopted out in order to make sure that domestic adoptions are a larger number!! Domestic adoptions are not growing that much–more and more children are “waiting children”–whose interests are served here?

Experts say the quota only puts more orphans on the waiting list and causes other negative side-effects, while having no substantial effect on boosting domestic adoption.

Local adoption agencies also argue that the quota deprives orphans of chances of finding new homes at an early age.

“What is actually happening now is that adoptive parents in other countries have to wait longer, up to almost a year, to adopt a child. The quota has simply increased the number of children on the adoption list,” said Hong Mi-kyung, official from Holt Children’s Services. “As children waiting for adoption grow older, adoptive parents and children experience more difficulties.”

She suggested that if the government maintains the adoption quota, it should exclude adoptions by Koreans living in other countries.
“I think the quota needs to be lifted for at least Koreans living abroad,” she said.

According to the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHSA), the adoption rate decreased to 27.5 percent in 2008 from 44.5 percent in 2000, with only 2,556 orphans out of 9,284 finding new homes. “The quota hurt the adoption rate, while the domestic adoption rate growth stagnated,” a KIHSA official said.

A Korean housewife living in the U.S., who has been waiting to adopt through a local agency, said abandoned children should be adopted as quickly as possible to help heal their “trauma” and better adjust to a new environment.

“A baby has been chosen for us to adopt, but an adoption agency said but we have to wait for a year just because the overseas quota is full this year. Does that make sense?” she said.

But the health ministry said adoption agencies should not accept applications from adoptive parents overseas when the quota is full to make it work in positive and desired ways.

The ministry also admitted that the quota led to the decrease of the adoption rate in general, but it is more important to find children a new home in their own country.

Like most other things relating to international adoption, this makes absolutely no sense–except from the perspective that international adoption should be limited and restriction as much as possible–whatever the true effects might be…..

On Kathryn Joyce writing on orphans!! for the Nation

Please–give me a break!!

When I look at The Nation, I remember how much I (in general) like it–informative on economic policy, progressive, original….But please….The Kathryn Joyce piece on international adoption (April 21, 2011) is unforgivable!

In “The Evangelical Adoption Crusade” Joyce seeks to associate international adoption with a radical Christian right plot to steal the children of the developing world from their rightful homes……Her piece is so profoundly flawed, so dismissive of the facts, that it is hard to know where to begin. Her analysis of the work of Craig Juntenen (whom she calls a “somewhat rogue” figure) is completely unfair!

While seemingly “progressive”, Joyce attempts to taint international adoption as a whole by linking it with a scary subculture of orphan-obsessed evangelicals. She provides no investigative data on the actual lives of children living out of family care around the world; she completely misreads the UNICEF perspective on international adoption; she uses a couple of anecdotes about particular people in the Christian orphan advocacy movement to stereotype and demean the motives of a vast array of social orphan advocates……

She can write what she likes, of course–but can’t The Nation do a better job than this? Isn’t the progressive case for adoption perfectly clear?

I will have more to write on this shortly….Suffice it to say here that by putting the “orphan crisis” in inverted commas, Joyce lets us know that she does not see one……Unlike Juntenen, I doubt Joyce has travelled anywhere to actually see children living out of parental care with her own eyes. They are there by the hundreds of thousands, they are too often facing very bleak futures filled with exploitation……What is Joyce’s “context”? Where does she derive her baseline information from?  For too many progressive writers, the international adoption story is simply an extension of other aspects of the culture wars…

Time for a major rethink on this!

My beloved Japan….

Japan is a country I love very much, having spent a great deal of time there throughout the 1980s–going so far as to get a PhD in Japanese literature! It is my long-held plan to travel there to study the orphan problem–the tens of thousands of social orphans who grow up in orphanages, disregarded by most of the rest of the world.  I had hoped to do this in the near future–I will continue to hope for the chance to go fairly soon, and will pray that the Japanese people overcome this latest set of disasters. One cannot help but admire their  patience in the face of adversity.

It seems that in Japan, child abuse and family breakdown are contributing to a rise in the population of social orphans.  As with other parts of the world, but more surprisingly given the great wealth of Japan, we know little of a systematic nature about the numbers, the life conditions or the outcomes. It is well documented that there are few foster homes, and very few domestic adoptions.  The latest national crisis makes me all the more determined to go and study this vexing phenomenon.

But in the meantime, Nihon no katatachi yo–gambatte!!