Australia, the CCAI, the NCFA, and the Joint Council
One of the long time issues in Adoptionland has been the fact that the “experts” have been citied to speak on behalf of the community, making policy, citing “best practices”, lobbying for changes in legislation and speaking for and at the adoption community do so, without speaking to us. This is often done on the common assumption that “Adoption is fining homes for all the unwanted children“ rather than facing the reality of what we, who have lived a true adoption journey, know to be true of the adoption industry.
We certainly have all felt the frustration of reading an adoption related article or story on the web or seeing it on the news or some talk show where the “expert” makes some statement completely contradictory to what we know about adoptees or about “birth” mothers. Where are the adoptees we cry? How come they didn’t ask a mother to tell her tale? How come they didn’t ask us, we wonder. And when will this controlled “commentary” about adoption falsehoods and misinformation end? When will they listen?
Change is Constant, Change is Good
I’m not telling you something new when I say that the rise of the internet as platform for getting our voices heard has been a good thing. As we connect and build relationships between one another, we amplify our voices, given authority to our stories, and demand the acknowledgement that WE, in Adoptionland, hold the right and also the responsibility to be in control of not only the truth of our past experiences, but to set in motion the way adoption must be seen in the coming years. It’s not easy and it has already taken a long time, but sometimes, I see flickers of light at the end of the tunnel like last week’s positive movement of Adoption Program at Parker Adventist Hospital which was initiative by the post of an adoptive mother. We must say encouraged and never lose hope or in future generations, our children will be left fighting the same battles.
Australia’s Adoption Apology
Beginning in 2010, Western Australia started the rain of apologizes for forced adoption policies of babies born to unwed white mothers. This was followed by South Australia (18 July 2012), The Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly (14 August 2012), New South Wales (20 September 2012), Victorian parliament (25 October 2012); Tasmania and Queensland also announced they would apologize and movements in Canada are demanding their country to do the same.
While these Austrian Adoption Apologies do nothing really to correct the wrong doings of past adoptions; what it does do is send a message that cannot be ignored. Past adoption practices, once considered acceptable, were not. And that opens the door to three things:
- As the current adoption practices in the USA were the basis for the now condemned forced adoption practices in these countries, this says that USA is also under question for our past practices and deserving of an apology
- As the current adoption practices in this country, however, “changed” still have a strong foundation in the past, it sheds a great light of truth on the possibility that perhaps, we still might have some issues that need to be more closely examined.
- The stories told by the mothers of forced adoptions and the stories of adoptees losses of their families of origin, were seen as truth. Not “an unfortunate experience” or some wild tales of the “exceptions”.
Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute: a Link of Support
The other day I happen to have been checking some links and stopped by the blog maintained by the CCAI. It’s simple, and it’s small, but I was just so delighted to see that the CCAI had a link to the Adoptee Rights Coalition on their site. Why was this such a big deal? Because most of the other, limited, links there were from more well “established” organizations. A simple link of credibility from THE organization that usual spearheads every single piece of NATIONAL adoption legislation that goes through Congress.
They are paying attention and listen to the needs of our Adoptees. I love that.
The National Council for Adoption: Two Little Words
I shall refrain from focusing on the past history of the NCFA at this moment and focus on the future. Earlier this year the NCFA actually made a huge move and added on their mission statement that they
……serve children, birthparents, adoptive families, adult adoptees, adoption agencies, U.S. and foreign governments, policymakers, media, and the general public as the authoritative voice for adoption…..
While the addition of these two little words “adult adoptees” added to their mission statement took all of 30 seconds to do, the ramifications of such an act speaks volumes. The NCFA has historically spoken against Adoptee Rights legislation that would allow the adult adoptee to have restored access to their OBC, citing that mutual consent registries were better in order to “protect the privacy of the birthmothers“. By adding just these two little words, the NCFA, has accepted that that adult adoptees DO need support as opposed to the idea that “adoption is a onetime event that has no long term consequences to a person adopted”. If adult adoptees require support, then they must have specific needs that require said support.
While, I do not in many way feel that these actions condone nor erase the other various issues that we have with the NCFA, I do applaud this step in the right direction. What it says to me is that the newest head of the National Council of Adoption, Chuck Johnson, shows a very new and interesting trait we have not seen before; he is hearing us. Change might be slow, and we may never hold hands with the NCFA, but if they only did ONE thing and stopped opposing Adoptee Rights Legislation, it would be a tremendous boon for all who have battled for so long. I will give credit where credit is due and in that, a tip of my hat to the NCFA. Now, support Adoptee Rights legislation and I give you a hats off.
Then, I hear some things, that make me scratch my head and go ” Huh?”
The Joint Council of International Adoption Services
With knowledge and support to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Joint Council should be leading the change for adoptees to stay within their country of origins with their family of origins if at all possible as the Convention decrees. There have been times, when Joint Council head, Chief Executive Thomas DiFilipo, has done a great job of telling the realities and risks of adoption in a truthful light as in this interview with NPR regarding Haiti post earthquake:
…..The earthquake hits, the child is alone for two or three weeks, no one comes to visit. You assume the child’s an orphan, you put them on a plane, fly them to France, and they get adopted….And then two months later, you discover the father was in the hospital or could not otherwise, he was injured or was in a camp. And then you find out what you really did was not give a child a home, and a family, but what you did was you separated the child from their parents, their birthparents…..
Yet, when I look at all the campaigns head by the Joint Council, it really does seem to me that they are still advocating from a position to bring children to the USA in the name of adoption. Thomas DiFilipo spoke out against the Russian Adoption ban in the Washington Post andclaimed “only 19 incidents” of abuse. Plus, looking at their track record, the Joint Councils other ideas of “advocacy” when dealing with this kind of issue in the past seems to be finding ways to continue to bring adoptees into the country.
This is quite a conflicted message. If you support the right of children to be with their families of origins, and recognize that adoption can happen in instances of “paper orphan” and that separates families, then why does the Joint Council, as an organization continue to “advocate” to bring adoptees into the country even when the sending country has “19″ good reasons not to? Could it be that you the Joint Council is not actually listening to the voices of the very Adoptees they are saying they serve? Why do they tweet excited that the Russian Ban might be lifted if they support the UN Rights of a Child?
What is Tom DiFilipo Doing and Whose Interest Does He Serve?
In a perfect world, Thomas DiFilipo SHOULD be advocating himself out of a job. He should be using his platform to help advocate for “sending” countries of “adoptable children” to stay in their countries of origin as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, demands rather than celebrate and find means to keep them coming here. As I like to do, I go to research to shed some incite upon these opposing views. Our hand dandy Guide Star data base tells me quite clearly that based on the 2010 tax record of the Joint Council that Tom, is the only paid permanent employee, and like so many executives, brings in a nice salary of $120,368.00. That’s more than their program expenses for that year.
I wonder if his comfortable compensation has given him the right to feel that he can dismiss the voices that he is charged to protect and listen to? I hate to think he feels that he is entitled to say and do what he thinks he must to keep his income level, rather than do what he is paid to do: listen to the very people he is responsible for serving?I mean, if Chuck Johnson can listen to Adult Adoptees, I should think Thomas DiFilipo can too.
In any case, the one thing is clear, we are not going to be silences, you cannot ignore us, and the Adoptionland Community s not going away any time soon! Get on board or get out of the way!