Friday, March 16, 2007

Things that make me go "hmmmmmm"

I’ve really wanted to comment on the recent news that Angelina Jolie has added a new addition to her family. The number of threads regarding this information have been staggering to me. There are many “that’s not fair” posts about how fast the adoption was completed. Supporters argue she started the process early last year, that she adopted an older child who was paper ready, etc. Detractors generally argue simply that she bought off Vietnamese officials and that she’s receiving preferential treatment because of her celebrity. On many of the adoption forums I’ve lurked, the majority of adoptive parents have commented a) why does it matter anyway because at least the child is out of the orphanage and b) who cares if money / fame brought the boy home early because if they had the money/fame/resources, they would have given “whatever it took” to bring their child home sooner.

My first thought was to agree because obviously I’ve wanted my son home with me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Having to wait, month after month, for the process to be completed has been difficult. There have been times when I thought I would have “done anything” to bring him home. After reading so many threads / posts, it has left me wondering, would I? Honestly, would I be willing to do “whatever it took.”

Vietnam was closed to adoptions from U.S. citizens due to allegations of serious corruption in the system. It took several years for the U.S. and Vietnam to work out a Memo of Understanding to allow adoptions to proceed again. Families were caught in the crossfire and, I believe, some families never brought their children home. Now, the country has “reopened” and agencies must be licensed by Vietnam to complete adoptions. I definitely can’t speak to whether this new system is better or worse than before because I don’t have first-hand knowledge and haven’t done enough research. However, I feel strongly that any processes in place need to be followed to the letter to ensure this “transparency” everyone talks about wanting in international adoptions actually occurs.

Back to Ms. Jolie: I’ve read several parents’ blogs who adopted children born in Vietnam. These parents’ anger stems from the idea that they had to wait two, three or more weeks for all of their paperwork to be processed, G and R ceremony, embassy paperwork, visa, etc. I perused the State Department website about the process for Vietnam adoptions. I didn’t really come away with a clear understanding of how long it “should” take. I only have the information I read, time and time again, from parents. Their trips to finalize the adoption of their child in Vietnam surely didn’t go as quickly as Angelina’s trip. Most of these parents were "in country" at least two-three weeks attempting to complete the process.

Now I understand that everything provided by the media shouldn’t be accepted as truth. I get that. I’m simply throwing out this food for thought: Let’s all assume that Ms. Jolie went through the exact same processes as any other U.S. citizen with regard to home study, I-600A, wait for referral, etc. Fine. Now all the paper-ready parents and paper-ready children are matched. Everyone has made their travel plans and has arrived in country on the same date. Great – everyone is at the same exact place in the process, right?. So how is it that the Jolie adoption is completed in a few days and the other families are waiting weeks? This is where I have to ask those saying she’s not receiving preferential treatment to explain the difference in the process. If anything, wouldn’t she have the resources to stay in country for months if she chose to? Wouldn’t it make more sense to expedite the case of Ms. Random Parent because she DOESN’T have the resources to stay in country for an extended period of time? I just don’t get it. Maybe I’ve missed something here and those who’ve adopted from Vietnam can explain it to me. I’m not arguing whether the adoption of this child is a good thing because I think it is. I’m simply asking why the finalization process in country took a CONSIDERABLY shorter time for AJ’s adoption than it appears to take for all other U.S. adoptive parents.

[I feel the need to add a small disclaimer that I happen to ADORE Angelina. I applaud her work as a Goodwill Ambassador. From what we ARE privy to in the media and IF you believe it, she appears to be a devoted mother. When I’ve heard her speak I come away with a feeling that she is a genuine human being. This is NOT a bash toward her as a person. My questions about her adoption are PROCESS questions.]

Back to doing “whatever it takes:” Adoptive parents get their panties in a wad when others criticize their adopting internationally. We freak out when people mention the POSSIBILITY of corruption, buying children, bribes, forged documents, coercion of birthmothers, etc. Yet in the same breath we make comments like “I’d do anything to bring him home.” Really? So handing an orphanage director an extra $5000 to bring your son is okay because it’s YOUR son. If I do it, it’s corrupt? Yeah, not so much. How can we expect government officials to follow outlined procedures if we take the attitude that “as long as the child gets out of the orphanage” then the behavior doesn’t matter? Of course it matters. If the behavior is wrong in the light of day, it’s wrong at night. Are we as adoptive parents helping to feed the fury when we turn a blind eye to those employing corrupt practices? I’d rather face the problem head on and make changes than bury my head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening.

1 comment:

DD said...

What I find interesting is how so many are angry at Angelina for "buying" her way through the system.

What I would like to ask is who was the V. Agency that expedited the adoption? Where is their accountability, which you allude to, as they would appear even more culpable. Angelina had the money, but someone accepted it. Who is more to blame and who should earn more ire?