A foreign policy with an orphan emphasis–the FFOA controversy

Isn’t this what the Families for Orphans bill is meant to assist in creating?  Of course, no legislation is perfect–but the essential content is aimed at treating children living out of family care as a cohort in need of permanency. Permanency. Another term that is starting to be treated with derision–just as attachment disorder was treated with derision. If we start from the premise that international adoption is a plot by rapacious agencies and their representatives, then all orphan-oriented initiatives are greeted with deep suspicion–

I really don’t care what term we use–use an acronym–Children Living Without Family Care, CLWFC. I get it–some children are left temporarily by families in overnight facilities–even for a long time–No one but no one (at least no sane person) wants to see them adopted if they have families who want them and are doing their best to care for them or at least stay connected. But simply to say that children have “living relatives” is so condescending….To refer only and always to poverty to cover every situation is so condescending and misleading–

One of the really great things about the proposed legislation is that it would require countries to engage in some form of accounting for children living out of parental care.  What on earth is the problem with this, unless–again and ad nauseum–it is assumed that there is a twisted plot behind the bill–that it is not meant to focus attention on this hidden and often vulnerable and abused population of children–but rather to spirit them out of their countries against the will of their families….? Accounting for these children is crucial. We should do more of it. All countries should do it. That does not mean that each child’s history will be written up in a document, but that countries will give an accounting of institutions, foster care, street children.

 Ethica, PEAR and even Holt (!!) have signed onto a letter of opposition where they claim that this project will cost “billions of dollars” and impose red tape on developing countries and cannot be done. Of course we could, at modest cost, do a much better job at accounting for these children. There should be impartial, honest accounting for issues of child abandonment, institutional care, aging out of the system, street children. Lives depend on this. Conversations with child care workers, communities etc will give us a much better idea of all this–and maybe we can start an analysis based on facts rather than anecdote……Like Save the Children,  those opposing the bill seem to be against the use of large numbers when referring to children living out of family care! (Unicef tends to bring out these numbers, but object to them when people point out that they indicate a real orphan crisis.)   Are we really to believe that the former Soviet Union and China, for instance, are incapable of presenting an accounting of the children, at least in broad terms? ( I do not believe that for a moment.) And yet we are meant to believe that these same governments are going to achieve successful family reunification on a mass scale for most children living out of family care….?

I referred in my 2003 article to the “adoptability conundrum”–the idea that adoption must link up with children who really really need it in order to be ethical. It should be  obvious that I believe this.  We are much more likely to link children in need with adoption if we have more information, more data. What is certain is that leaving things as they are will not create a happily ever after for these millions of children–however many millions they might prove to be.