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Ethics in Adoption

rehoming special

I am not sure this belongs under Ethics but did any of you see Dan Rathers special on rehoming international adopted children. Focused on Two children form Ethiopia but talked about others as well.

It was quite well done and very sad.

if that doesn’t work google Dan Rather adoption Ethiopia and you will find. Quite long (almost 2 hours)

No matter who or how you adopted I think as a community we need to be informed about this.


Has anyone been able to access the Dan Rather special? I tried google etc, but the video has been removed from vimeo so the links do not work. All i was able to see were articles on the video, and a brief and well done ( but disturbing) video (13 min of the 2 hours) on the family with the 30 kids who has abused and thrown out on the streets a number of them.

About the family, I have to wonder if there are hundreds of police reports, why are the police and the social services departments in their state not doing their job and arresting the parents, and removing these children to foster homes etc? Clearly there is some major level of corruption for money involved here that goes way beyond a sick and unethical family.

These children should not be dumped in homeless shelters at age 15. Nor should any agency allow adoption of this number of children. In an international adoption the other children are supposed to be questioned in the home…clearly that has not happened, nor any reasonable checking of the parents police records by the agency.

The agency should be closed and the directors and social workers involved,  who must clearly be taking bribes, arrested and put in prison. Were they the ones (IAG) that another article spoke about the directors arrest for bribing Ethiopian officials ? Also the govt, lawyers, and police officials who are turning their heads the other way for money need to be exposed.

.  One wonders also what company are the parents a part of that they have so much money. A little more research on the film makers part could have given people some tools to effectively stop this by exposing the people behind this even if the govt and social work offices that are supposedly protecting people from this are not functioning.

Finally I have to say that things are also clearly not right in Ethiopia either if their govt will approve this hideously large of a family. I do think some kind of protective legislation against rehoming is necessary, and holding parents who adopt financially responsible.

Any other thoughts Regina after watching the whole of the film?

Posted by Happy Camper on Dec 20, 2014 at 6:50am

The link I gave you took down the show. I don’t know if it is available elsewhere.

It wasn’t just one family so size of family isn’t the only issue. The estimate is that 10% of internationally adopted children end up rehomed. No one is really counting as once they are adopted they are the family’s responsibility.

I think the show underestimated the trauma and issues the children could have and how that can impact a family. I think the expectations of many families is skewed because they either have poor pre adoption education or just assume “it won’t happen to me”

The belief that a child can change language/culture easily is also not true. They are sad to leave their birth families and country They may also suffer trauma often from neglect and or abuse.

I am always puzzled that a family will adopt internationally a child who is say 10 with a difficult history but would never adopt the same child from foster care. I think we think there is some magic. That the child will be so happy to be in the land of plenty that all the issues will go away. They don’t.

It takes a lot of work and often a lot of professional intervention for some of these children to heal. Many parents do the work.

One single mom did a good interview re why she rehomed. The other parents didn’t.

This doesn’t just happen to Ethiopian children. They are the newest because they are most recently placed. It happened to many Eastern European children and some Chinese children as well. Some US kids adopted from foster care also dissolve the adoption (usually through a court not this casual moving children around via the internet.)

Anyway it is sad. I have worked with many such children. Their ability to trust continues to be broken but some do well enough in their second home.

I have no magic answers.


Posted by Regina on Dec 20, 2014 at 2:35pm

PS I would recommend better pre education and better post adoption services.

Posted by Regina on Dec 20, 2014 at 3:22pm

I don’t think one can generalize about countries any more than one can generalize about Africa or Adoption Agencies etc, There are some countries that have systems of care that while still not being families are better than the US system.

I don’t know whether the children I know are representative or not, but all of the older International children in families that I know- involving a number of countries (maybe 40 kids?) are thriving…of course they are in families where the parents have done the work to educate themselves, and to care for them and provide a community of others similar here. I do know one International situation where a new home was needed for the child, but this was done thru appropriate channels and working thru the agencies involved.

You are right that education of the parents is key. I think it can also help for the children to be educated (some of the host programs do this - much like kids in the US may be educated for travel abroad) and have friends that welcome them here. But other than education it requires a whole support system and commitment from the parents. As you say it is not a fast process…it takes many years of this commitment for the children’s benefit.

  A majority of these children I know did not have families. Some (not the majority) were removed from seriously abusive situations years ago. They may miss people who have cared for them or friends or their country, or in some cases a family member, but overall they are happy to have a family here, rather than be in a large orphanage, temporary foster home, or on the streets. This after all is the benefit of an adoption if it is done right.

I do know of US foster families that adopted and were dissolved. So many of these children have been shuttled around from way too many (sometimes abusive) foster homes. I don’t think it really is any better or easier to adopt thru foster care.

I don’t know anyone thru any system who has just casually moved on children, handing them off to strangers. It is a horrible, thought and I see it as no different than child trafficking. I think we need better laws. Parents should be required to go thru the same process as adoptions do initially if they are dissolving an adoption.

Posted by Happy Camper on Dec 23, 2014 at 4:50pm

I was able to watch it.  It concentrated on Ethiopian adoptees.  I’ve seen a few other documentaries in regards to adoptees from Ethiopia.

Each adoptees situation is different but the one thing I noticed in this documentary and a couple of others is that the reason that these particular children had issues when they came to America was not RAD but in fact the complete opposite.  They seemed all well attached to their families back in Ethiopia but didn’t initially understand that they were being adopted in order to be part of new families. 

The other thing they had in common is that the adoptive families already had younger children in the home which meant that those families weren’t ever going to be able to deal with too much challenging behaviour.  That’s why I think it is important to avoid adopting out of birth order because even though it might be OK a lot of the time, what happens if there are issues?  The truth is that the original adoptive families in the documentary weren’t prepared to make the extra effort required because of concerns about the other children in the home.  (one has specifically said this on Dan Rather’s FB page). 

Before anyone says anything, of course not all Ethiopian adoptees had intact or loving families back in Ethiopia, however, it can be hard to tell at times because it seems that all the above adoptees spent a short time in the agency-run orphanages (a bit like a holding station).  Sometimes the truth isn’t told to the adoptive families and it is left to them to sort out the feelings of the angry and bewildered adoptee.

Thus I think any counselling or therapy for IA adoptees needs to cover all bases.  Some of the behaviours of those who can’t bond (i.e. RAD) may be the same as those who don’t want to bond (already bonded) and assuming that the child can’t bond when that might not be the problem could mean that that specific child doesn’t get the help they need.

Btw Maureen, the blogger to whom Regina has linked, is the mother of an Ethiopian adoptee who had a family back in Ethiopia.  Her daughter, Aselefech, is one of the adoptees on the #Flipthescript video smile

Posted by catherinenz on Dec 24, 2014 at 5:28am

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