Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

One sure consequence of disaster: adoption

Expand Messages
  • Sunny Jo
    One sure consequence of disaster: adoption When a group of American missionaries was arrested last weekend after trying to bring 33 children out of Haiti,
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6, 2010
    • 0 Attachment
      One sure consequence of disaster: adoption

      When a group of American missionaries was arrested last weekend after
      trying to bring 33 children out of Haiti, troubling questions began to

      Siri Agrell

      From Saturday's Globe and Mail Published on Saturday, Feb. 06, 2010
      12:09AM EST Last updated on Saturday, Feb. 06, 2010 12:20AM EST

      When a group of American missionaries was arrested last weekend after
      smuggling 33 children out of Haiti, troubling questions began to arise
      about the impulse to whisk kids out of disaster zones. But trends in
      international adoption have always followed close on the heels of wars
      and humanitarian disasters, according to Queen’s University professor
      Karen Dubinsky, whose book Babies Without Borders: Adoption and the
      Symbolic Child in Canada, Cuba and Guatemala will be released this
      spring. The story is always the same, she says. The disaster produces
      interest in orphaned children, an adoption system is opened, scandals
      develop and the system closes down. Move to another location and

      Korea: The adoption of foreign children began in the United States
      during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, when an American evangelical
      couple named Henry and Bertha Holt began a campaign to fight communism
      one child at a time. “They had missionary zeal and the Cold War behind
      them,” Ms. Dubinsky says. “Some historians say they single-handedly
      invented international adoption.”

      Vietnam: In Canada, the first spike in international adoption began at
      the end of the Vietnam War, spearheaded by three Montreal housewives
      who got involved in a U.S.-led campaign called Operation Babylift.
      More than 3,300 infants were removed, although it was later revealed
      that not all were orphans. The project earned notoriety after an
      Operation Babylift plane crashed after takeoff in Vietnam, killing 141
      children and volunteers. The adoption campaign led to a change to
      Canada’s immigration policy, creating a new category for unaccompanied

      Cuba: From 1960 to 1961, 14,000 unaccompanied children were sent from
      Cuba to Miami as part of Operation Peter Pan. Although parents were
      promised that they would be reunited with their children, more than
      7,000 were permanently stranded in the American foster-care and
      orphanage system after the Bay of Pigs invasion ended U.S.-Cuban
      relations. Decades later, one of those children – Maria de los Torres
      – would sue the Central Intelligence Agency for access to documents
      that revealed Cuban parents were responding to an American rumour
      campaign suggesting Fidel Castro was about to nationalize children.
      Now, there are rumours of a Hollywood movie about the event.

      Romania: After Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown and executed in the
      1989 revolution, media attention directed at the sorry state of
      Romanian orphanages created a bump in interest about adoptees in
      former Soviet Bloc states.

      Russia: In 1990, Russia made adoption open to foreign parents. Ms.
      Dubinsky says interest was fuelled by U.S. investigative television
      shows that aired hidden-camera footage of substandard orphanage
      conditions. Unlike with other countries, the narrative around Russian
      adoptions focused on the physical and mental health of the children.

      Guatemala: In the early 2000s, Guatemala had the dubious distinction
      of having the highest per-capita adoption rate in the world. Civil
      wars in Latin America drew international attention to the region, and
      soon the poor country was cashing in on its children. “In Guatemala,
      it just started to become a business, nothing more,” Ms. Dubinsky
      says. “It was a country in deep poverty that began to see its only
      value in exporting its children.”

      China: The increase in adoptions from China did not emerge out of a
      single event. The introduction of the country’s one-child policy in
      1979 and the Tiananmen Square massacre a decade later drew global
      attention to the country’s human-rights abuses, and adoptive parents
      to its shores.

      Indonesia: In the aftermath of the 2004 Asian tsunami, many
      well-meaning families rushed to adopt as an immediate way to provide
      help. “That’s probably one of the first times that ever happened,” Ms.
      Dubinsky says. “It’s also the first time mainstream child-welfare
      organizations started saying it wasn’t the right response.”

      Ethiopia: Adoptions from Africa were not popular until the late 2000s,
      despite decades of well-publicized suffering, and were influenced by
      the celebrity families of Angelina Jolie and Madonna. Ethiopia
      experienced a surge of foreign adoptions three years ago.

      Middle East: Although recent global conflicts have been focused on the
      Middle East, Islamic nations are the exception to the adoption trend.
      Muslim nations do not allow Western-style adoptions, although they do
      have a system for caring for orphaned children. “It’s an interesting
      parallel,” Ms. Dubinsky says. “I don't think we saw the same kind of
      human-rights coverage and calls to adoption agencies after the Iraq
      and Afghanistan invasions.”

      Haiti: Ms. Dubinsky is troubled by the news that one of the same Miami
      groups involved in the Cuban airlift of children in 1960 has
      re-emerged in Haiti, calling itself Operation Pierre Pan.

    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.