February 27, 2012

Why the adoption establishment annoys me

Kevin and Shelise at Land of Gazillion Adoptees have had another terrific idea: a blog week dedicated to “Why the Adoption Establishment Annoys Me.”  A number of bloggers have already published their offerings, which I will do my best to keep up with below. If you’re interested in joining in, head on over to LGA and let them know.

Let me start by giving you my definition of the “adoption establishment:”
A collection or community of individuals, organizations, legal entities and governments who, through action or inaction, benefit from, support or work to preserve status quo adoption laws, policies and practices.
The adoption establishment is populated with adoptive parents, adoption facilitators and agencies, and people and organizations who promote adoption. All we APs are automatic members, whether we want to be or not, because we gain rather than lost from adoption. Adopted people and first parents, on the other hand, are generally not invited into the club, because they tend to bring the hard stories the rest of us would rather not hear.

Although I'm not a gung-ho adoption promoter, I don't believe that adoption is inherently bad or wrong. It can, in my opinion, be a positive alternative for children who truly need families. How we define that need is what gets us into trouble, and leads me to my biggest problem with the adoption establishment: it focuses its energy on encouraging adoption and on the process of adopting, but doesn’t fix what it breaks.
There is, in my opinion, absolutely no excuse for organizational or individual silence within the established adoption community on issues like for-profit adoption agencies, abusive surrender tactics, denial of original birth certificate access to adoptees, denial of citizenship to intercountry adoptees, or adoptee deportation.

There is simply no excuse.

And what really infuriates me about this is that high among the members of the adoption establishment are organizations and individuals who have close ties to and even work in the U.S. legislative system. Even if they are doing good work in other areas, I am not buying it anymore.
People and organizations who claim to be leaders in adoption must be held accountable for where they lead the adoption community. If it is only toward more adoptions, without concern for justice for those adoption has harmed or hurt, they fail.

* * * * * *

Other annoyed points of view:
If you're participating, please leave a comment with a link to your post and I'll add you to the list.

February 25, 2012

KAAN 2011 Registration Now Open

Please spread the word! Registration for the Thirteenth Annual KAAN Conference, this year in Atlanta, GA, is now open! Adoptees, adoptive parents, first parents and anyone with an interest in Korean adoption is welcome to attend. Hope to see you there!

From the KAAN website:

We Have a Dream...

Sheraton Downtown
Atlanta, Georgia
July 29 - 31, 2011

KAAN was founded in 1998 to build a national Korean adoption community with adoptees at its center. We seek to better understand and improve the lives of adoptees and their families through our conferences and other services. We believe it is important to bring together all those connected to Korean adoption--especially adoptees, other Koreans and Korean-Americans, and family members through birth, adoption, or marriage--for dialogue, education, and support. We also welcome members of other adoptive communities who want to share and learn from our common experiences.

Our annual conferences move to various sites in the United States and at times South Korea. Our speakers, films, and programs range from academic to personal to grassroots to cultural. In addition, we nurture our network of individuals and organizations through our website, newsletter, Facebook community, and other outreach ventures. We are a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit with staff and Advisory Council members from across the United States.

This year's conference--our thirteenth annual--focuses on the dreams we have as a community and what we are doing to pursue those dreams. We are excited to connect with the local Atlanta community as host for this event and look forward to the new relationships this will bring.

To register online and to learn more about this year's programs, click on the links at the left of this screen. If you would like to print a copy of our brochure or support our conference through some type of sponsorship, look over the opportunities below. You can also donate through the button at the top of this screen.

Thank you for your interest in KAAN!

More information, including online registration and exhibitor, program and gala registration forms, can be found on the KAAN Conference website.

February 24, 2012

Third Mom, really: psychological abuse?

A few thoughts today in response to a number of comments I've received over the past week to this post and this one.

I expected instant dismissal in adoptive parent settings, but was pleasantly surprised to see it wasn't universal. Quite a few of the comments in one online venue, an adoptive-parent-centric one I should add, formed a serious discussion of the impact of such adoptive parent behaviors on adopted individuals.  I almost wept with joy when I saw that.

There were, of course, a number of comments that dismissed out of hand my use of the words "psychological abuse." I chose them on purpose for several reasons. For one, if I used anything milder, no one would pay attention. But the most important reason is this:
Adopted people, and no small number of them, tell me that psychological abuse is exactly what these kinds of adoptive parent behaviors feel like to them.
Hearing this, we adoptive parents can respond in a number of ways.  We can dismiss adoptees who express these opinions as angry, a minority in the adoptee community, psychologically ill, etc. We can debate whether something that feels like abuse to someone actually IS abuse, and might also say all kids feel their parents abuse them from time to time. If our kids are disinterested in their ethnic heritage, we can take the "I let my kids set their own boundaries and therefore have no responsibility here" approach. (The light bulb came on really clearly for me on this one the day my son admonished me for not forcing him to take piano lessons, in spite of the fact that every time we offered, he refused.) We can go for the "everyone has bad stuff in their lives and we all need to suck it up" angle.  Or we can explain it away by saying that it's OK for adoptive parents to do these things as long as they love their children.

On the other hand, we could think long and hard about why some of our behaviors might feel like abuse to our children. Each adopted person is unique; what is nothing to one may be earth-shattering to another, and vice versa, so we will have to look critically at our own behaviors in our own families to see where we might do better. The main thing is to open our minds to the possibility that the things we, our families and friends may say or do can be painful to our children, and to change those attitudes and behaviors. Listen to the adoptees.

When we do, I also hope we come to understand this: that every person who adopts a child from another country is obligated to work to right adoption injustice wherever it occurs.  When I look back on the things my kids have experienced because of unjust, unethical or just plain nonsensical adoption laws and practices, I see a laundry list of things that will keep me busy for life: fixing intercountry adoptee citizenship inequities; obtaining free and unfettered access to the original birth certificate for all adoptees in every single state; providing a comprehensive family medical history to every adopted person; and many, many more. The old adage is really true here: if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

So again, to those who have taken the time to comment on these posts and discuss them elsewhere, especially from the adoptee perspective, thank you. Special thanks to the adoptive parent in one of those elsewheres who summarized in one clear paragraph what I've tried to express in three posts. I don't believe I'm allowed to cross-post the comment, but I want to call you out publicly to say you nailed it.

February 17, 2012

More gently on adoptive parent entitlement

Thank you to everyone who commented on my post on Monday. I always learn from your comments, here and in other venues, and again took away new perspectives.  I'm glad that Von reminded everyone of the sensitivity of an adopted person's name - thank you!  Although as an adoptive parent I find it sad when adoptive parents restrict their children through adoption from family traditions of any sort, including names, I understand that for the adopted person retaining the original name may be even more important than being included in such family traditions.

There is one comment that I think deserves some additional attention - here it is verbatim:
We adopted internationally and went through the home study and you are so wrong when you say it is easy. 
The Home Sttudy was not easy at all. In fact I think every bio parent should go through what we did before they start their families.

We were told to promise to at least try to expose our daughter to her culture. We are doing so now at age 3. 
We were asked several times "do you realize this adoption will make your family bi racial." that was the stupidest question and there were many other stupid questions. The questions just fell short of asking how often my husband and I have sex. I would have replied none of your damn business and get out of my house.

This one was hard to read, for several reasons: its disappointing expression of entitlement for one, and on a personal level, the fact that I thought some of the same things back when my husband and I first encountered adoption.

I pick up the entitlement from the sureness of the statements and the comparison they draw between  adoptive parents and those who give birth to their children. Adoptive parents need to lose that sense of unfairness, and fast. Our path to parenthood has legal repercussions that make a homestudy necessary, our children have different needs and we have different parenting responsibilities.

Of course, it's easy for me to say this now. I once thought the homestudy was really hard, too. I can remember thinking how unfair it was for someone who would surely be a good parent to have to go through that kind of intrusion, particularly when the news was full of stories about neglectful, abusive and even murderous parents. Like many others, I came to adoption through infertility, and also remember the feeling that no one should have to go through everything we were going through to do the most natural thing in the world.  When I opened my mind to adoption, I expected the process to go my way, and became angry when it didn't.

So I get the feeling of entitlement this comment expresses, I do.  I also know that three years is more than enough time for any adoptive parent to realize that the homestudy, invasive though it may have felt, was no more than a temporary, but necessary, inconvenience.  Dead easy, really, when you compare it with the complexities and losses in adoption that adopted persons and their parents live with.

February 13, 2012

When adoptive parenting becomes psychological abuse

Many years ago when I was a brand new parent, I met an adoptive mother at event of some sort and we got to talking about our children’s names.  In my husband's family, there are two names that show up in every generation, and I told her we had named our son one of them. She responded and said her husband was reserving his family's special name in case they conceived a son later on.

It struck me as so mean-spirited and selfish, yet this woman told me about it with no sense of guilt; it appeared to make perfect sense to her. I was speechless, and quickly changed the subject.  Now I wish I had challenged her and tried to understand what would motivate someone to adopt a child and immediately place them in a clearly secondary role in their family.

Some things I read online recently about abusive adoptive parents brought this encounter back to mind. It is deeply troubling to see how many adopted individuals have experienced abuse of all kinds at the hands of their adoptive parents. Like all Pollyannas, I have wanted to believe that, because I see strong caring families and treasured kids among my adoptive family friends, all adoptive parents love their children this way.

But they don’t.  I’m doubly sad about this: first, because we refuse to believe the adoptees who are telling us loudly and clearly that abuse happens, and that it is emotionally abusive it is to be raised by a family that ignores or disrespects your country and culture and dismisses racism; and second, that during the adoption process these attitudes are missed, or worse, accepted and approved.

I stumbled once on the blog of a prospective adoptive parent writing from Korea as she and her husband traveled to receive their baby. She spoke of visiting Chogye-sa, the wonderful Buddhist temple in downtown Seoul, and how she couldn’t bring herself to go in because the people were “praying to idols.” I commented about my own visits to Buddhist temples in Korea and how the peace they radiated brought me into closer touch with my own faith, but the comment went unacknowledged, lost in a sea of kudos for saving this child for Jesus.

Australian sociologist Dr. Kim Gray spoke about this at KAAN when it was in Boston several years ago. She shared the results of a study she had done about Australian adoptive parent attitudes toward their children’s cultures.  She called out one particularly egregious response, in which the parents stated that since everyone is a child of God, they wouldn’t be spending any special time focusing on any of this. It’s a no-brainer from my point of view that such prospective adoptive parents should be barred from adopting, but thanks to the prevalence of Christian adoption agencies, in Korea and in receiving countries, these attitudes are more likely applauded than decried.

Thinking back to the family saving that special name, it’s also a no-brainer that a child will never feel truly embraced by a family when the adoptive parents are holding out hope for “one of their own.” Adoptive parents have a responsibility to make absolutely sure our children know, through our words and actions, that we love them unconditionally for who they are. We have to show and tell them, frequently, that we love and respect them for their race, ethnicity, language, culture - for everything that is part of them.

If we send our children the message that we expect their gratitude for saving them from their country and culture, rather than loving them for it, they will suffer, because they will never know the unconditional love of their adoptive family.  This is just plain wrong, and it breaks my heart, it seriously breaks my heart.  I find it impossible to believe that there are adoptive parents who look at their children with disdain, dismissal and even disgust, and harm them emotionally and psychologically.

But they are out there. This kind of emotional abuse happens - and yes, I am calling it abuse, because if I call it anything else people won't take it seriously.

I don't have the professional knowledge to even begin to figure out how someone who physically or sexually abuses their child is able to get through a homestudy or how to stop them. This is something I hope that adoption agencies are looking for in every possible way, although adoptee experiences and the news tell me it's being missed.

I do have enough knowledge to know that if we're unsuccessful at preventing potential physical and sexual abusers from adopting, we shouldn't be surprised that more subtle types of abuse go largely unaddressed.

So my fellow adoptive parents: Talk about this. When people you know who are considering adoption come up to you and display these attitudes, call them on it – you can do it politely, but you must do it.  If you write about adoption, write about it.  If you speak to prospective adoptive parents, speak about it.

And above all, listen to the adoptees.

February 12, 2012

Third Mom's letter to the CCAI

Following is my letter to Kathleen Strottman of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption voicing my opinions on the failure of the CCAI and Senate Foreign Relations Committee to specifically seek the input and participation of adopted individuals and first parents and their representative organizations in the upcoming roundtable on intercountry adoption. I know others are writing, and hope we open some eyes and minds.

Dear Ms. Strottman:
I am writing to you today to voice my disappointment in the Congressional Coalition on Adoption's and Senate Foreign Relations Committee's exclusion of adopted people and birth/first parents from your upcoming roundtable on intercountry adoption, and in your surveys seeking adoptive parent and adoption agency feedback on the intercountry adoption process.
I am the adoptive parent of two young adults who were adopted from Korea as infants. I can therefore relate to the frustrations of prospective adoptive parents with a process perceived to be intrusive, lengthy and expensive. I also understand that the CCAI and Senate Foreign Relations Committee will want to review these processes periodically to confirm and improve their performance.
However, 24 years after the beginning of my personal adoption experience, I can say with certainty that adoption wait time, government staff cordiality and the number of updates received are far less important than ensuring that every single adoption protects the rights of every participant - birth/first parents, prospective adoptive parents, and, most of all, adopted persons - during the adoption process and throughout their lives.
We will never reach that point as long as the agencies and organizations with the power to influence adoption politics, policy and practice continually turn to adoptive parents and adoption agencies as their primary sources of information. Perceptions of adoption processes, practices and laws will always be skewed if we continually ask the wrong questions of the wrong people. Adopted persons and birth/first parents must be included in every discussion of adoption policy. Their lives are forever changed by these, often with negative consequences, as exemplified by the failure of Congress to correct U.S. law to grant U.S. citizenship to all intercountry adoptees and the activities of coercive adoption facilitators.
I hope that future rountables invite the participation of the many experts in the adoptee and birth/first parent communities. I also hope that the CCAI will help change the current adoption paradigm by acknowledging its failures, partnering transparently with adopted persons, birth/first parents and their representative organizations in the same way it partners with adoption agencies and adoptive parents.
Thank you for listening.
Margie Perscheid
Adoptive parent
Third Mom

February 10, 2012

Hey, CCAI! Show me the adoptee and first parent voices!

I'm sure you've heard about the intercountry adoption survey that's popping up all over - here and here and here and here (the last one's my favorite, I really love the spin; you know, like we adoptive parents haven't held the microphone long enough and need another "chance" to give our opinions), and I'm sure in many other places, too.  I saw it first at Land of Gazillion Adoptees - thank you, Kevin, for sending it out.

JCICS says the survey is sponsored by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and that responses received by COB February 14th will be included in an upcoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee roundtable on intercountry adoption. Inquiries regarding the survey are directed to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

The survey is in two parts: one for adoptive parents and one for adoption agency staff; click Read more to  peruse the text. Now, if I had seen this 23 years ago as a rank and stupid AP newbie, I would have thought This is great, I get to provide information that will improve intercountry adoption, which I thought at that time was pretty good thing all around.

But today's me is deeply disappointed in this survey, for several reasons, these being the top three:

  • Where for the love of God are the surveys for adopted people and first parents? There was a lot of buzz about this on Facebook last night, most asking the same question, but some questioning if this is an appropriate forum for adopted people in particular to have a voice.
    I get the fact that one survey or another might aim to gather a certain subset of information that one adoption experience or another might not be able to provide. Unless an adopted person has adopted a child, they won't have much to say on the adoption process experience. But the will be able to provide insights into the outcomes of those processes, which is very important.
    However, since first parents are involved in the intercountry adoption process (not necessarily in every individual intercountry adoption, but in the experience overall), we should make an effort to gather their experiences in the placing countries. As a matter of fact, I bet there are mothers in Korea who would be willing to respond to a survey asking similar questions about their experiences with the Korean placing agencies. I would love to see those responses next to the adoptive parent and agency results, and am sure they would tell an incredible story.
  • Both surveys are clearly trying to address adoptive parent frustration with the process of intercountry adoption, in particular the time it takes and the number of updates given throughout the process. There are 19 questions around time and communication; "birth mothers/parents" get three  and adopted individuals get none.
  • I really don't understand the purpose of the adoption agency portion of the survey, which just duplicates the adoptive parent questions. Seems meaningless to me.
I know that many will say Well, this survey is specifically about those issues, there can be another survey for adoptees and birthparents.

Wrong answser. If a Senate Subcommittee and the watchdog organization for adoption hold any discussions about intercountry adoption, they need to do the due diligence of bringing everyone involved in the process into the discussion.  Even if the topic is related to something that touches one member of the constellation more than another, all need to hear the issue and have an opportunity to weigh in.  If the agencies with the power to change what's wrong continue to separate the participants, intercountry adoption will continue to be seriously flawed.

If you agree, drop a message to info@ccainstitute.org to let them know you won't participate in any process that continues to silence those most affected by it.

* * * * * * *




ADOPTIVE PARENT SURVEY

GENERAL INFORMATION
Please choose the answer that best describes your experience. If you wish, you may provide a brief explanation of your answer in the box provided below certain questions.

1. I am a(n): Prospective Adoptive Parent, Adoptive Parent
2. What country did you adopt or attempt to adopt from? China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Nigeria, Russia, Rwanda, South Korea, Taiwan, Uganda, Ukraine, Vietnam, Other
3. Was this the country you first intended to adopt from? Yes, No
If no, provide reason for switching countries:
4. How long did it take for you to complete your intercountry adoption? (In responding, please calculate the number of months between the date you filed your I-600A/I-800A petition and the adopted child arrived in U.S.) Less than 6 months, 6 to 9 months, 9 to 12 months, 12 to 24 months, 24 months to 36 months, 36 months to 48 months, Over 48 months, We have not completed our adoption
5. If you have not received a visa, what is the primary reason? Awaiting approval, Received a Request for Evidence (RFE), Received a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID), Received a Denial, The country’s adoption program is closed or otherwise suspended, I-600 petition was transferred from USE/DOS to USCIS and is still in review, Other, Not Applicable

LENGTH OF TIME
The following questions are meant to determine the length of time it takes to complete an adoption under current guidelines and procedures. If a question below does not apply to your individual circumstance, please indicate so by selecting “Not Applicable”.

6. What was the time period between submission of your I-600A/I-800A documents and your receipt of a response from National Benefits Center (NBC)? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46 days +, Not Applicable
7. If you called or e-mailed the NBC, what was the time period between your call or e-mail and when you received a response from NBC? No response, 1-2 days, 3-6 days, 7 days +, Not Applicable
8. If you called or e-mailed the US Consulate/Embassy in your child’s country of origin, what was the time period between your call or email and when you received a response from the US Embassy? No response, 1-2 days, 3-6 days, 7 days +, Not Applicable
9. What was the time period between submission of your I-600A documents and your receipt of a response from USCIS/NBC? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46 days +, Not Applicable
10. What was the time period between submission of your I-800A documents and your receipt of a response from USCIS/NBC? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46 days +, Not Applicable
11. If you submitted your I-600A to the US Consulate/Embassy in your adoption country, what was the time period between submission and your receipt of a response? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46+ days, Not Applicable
12. If you submitted your I-800A to the US Consulate/Embassy in your adoption country, what was the time period between submission and your receipt of a response? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46+ days, Not Applicable

COMMUNICATIONS
The following questions are meant to determine the effectiveness and usefulness of current means of communication used to provide information to prospective adoptive parents at various points in the intercountry adoption process.

13. How often did you receive updates on the status of your individual case from any U.S. government agency? (Note: This question is meant to focus on the dissemination of case specific information, not general country updates.) I received no updates, I received an update only when there had been a change in the status of my case., I received an update on a regular basis, even when there was no new information to share., Other (please specify)
14. How were the updates referenced in question 13 most commonly provided? By phone, By email, By letter, In person
15. How often did you receive updates about the status of intercountry adoption, generally, in the country from which you were adopting. I received no updates, I received an update only when there had been a change in the status of my case., I received an update on a regular basis, even when there was no new information to share., Other (please specify)
16. How were the updates referenced in Question 15 most commonly provided? By phone, By email, By letter, By phone
17. My communication with the NBC was helpful in understanding the status of my case. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
18. Communications with the NBC were both informative and timely. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
19. Individuals representing the NBC were well informed about the law and the specifics of my case. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
20. Individuals representing the NBC were courteous and professional. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
21. Generally speaking, my communication with the US Consulate/Embassy was helpful in understanding the status of my case. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
22. Communications with the US Consulate/Embassy were informative and timely. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
23. Individuals representing the US Consulate/Embassy were well informed about the law and the specifics of my case. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
24. Individuals representing the US Consulate/Embassy were courteous and professional. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree

ADJUDICATION PROCESS
These questions pertain to the adjudication of your case by USCIS and State Department. Please respond to the questions below as they pertain to your adoption. If a question is not relevant to your adoption, please indicate so by selecting "Not Applicable".

25. If your adoption case initially received a determination of “not clearly approvable” from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, were you told specifically why? Yes, No, Not Applicable
26. At any point after being notified that your case was not clearly approvable, did you receive an explanation of what to expect next in the adjudication/investigation process? Yes, No, Not Applicable
27. If your case was referred to USCIS because the US Consulate/Embassy found it was "not clearly approvable", what was the final decision by USCIS? The case was approved without the need for any additional information, The case received an RFE (request for evidence), The case received a NOID (notice of intent to deny), Not Applicable
28. If your case received an RFE, were you told specifically what additional evidence was needed to reply to the RFE? Yes, No, Not Applicable
29. Was the information or further evidence needed something you had been informed up front would be part of the evidence processed? Yes, No, Not Applicable
30. Did you hire an attorney to assist you with responding to the RFE? Yes, No, Not Applicable
31. Approximately how much money did it cost for to respond to the RFE (including costs for the attorney, any field investigation work, and travel-related expense)? $5, 000, Between $5, 000 and $10, 000, Over $10, 000, Not Applicable
32. If you received an RFE, NOID, or Denial in your case, please indicate what was the identified insufficiency that you were told led to this decision? Missing Documents, Concerns about the veracity of submitted information/documents, Paperwork submitted could not be affirmed through field investigation, Inability to interview birth parent(s), Child did not meet the legal definition of orphan for visa purposes, Other, Not Applicable
33. Were documents that you provided the Consulate/Embassy or USCIS ever lost? Yes, No, Don't Know
34. From the date when additional evidence was supplied to USCIS, how long did it take to receive a decision? Less than a week, Between 2 to 4 weeks, One to three months3 to 6 months, Not Applicable

BIRTH MOTHER/PARENT INTERVIEWS
35. Did the Consulate/Embassy require that its officials interview the birth mother/parents in your case? Yes, No, Don't know
36. How many times was the birth mother/parent interviewed? Once, Twice, Three times, More than four times, Not Applicable
37. Did the birth mother/parent report that she/he felt intimidated and/or confused during the interview? Yes, No, Don't know, Not Applicable

OPINIONS
38. Would you like to see a formal system in place to report commendable or unprofessional behavior on the part of an individual Consular officer to the Department of State? Yes, No, No opinion
39. Would you like to see a formal system in place to report commendable or unprofessional behavior on the part of an individual officer to USCIS? Yes, No, No opinion
40. Do you feel the Dept of State adequately represented your needs/concerns to the foreign government involved in your adoption? Yes, No, No opinion
41. What specific recommendations do you have to improve the overall US Consulate/Embassy experience in your child’s country?
42. Do you have any specific comments about your experience that you think might be helpful in improving the intercountry adoption experience for other prospective adoptive parents?

ADOPTION AGENCY SURVEY

GENERAL INFORMATION
Please choose the answer that best describes your average experience as an adoption service provider. If you wish, you may provide a brief explanation of your answer in the box provided below certain questions.

1. Select the countries your agency is operating in:  China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Nigeria, Russia, Rwanda, South Korea, Taiwan, Uganda, Ukraine, Vietnam, Other
2. In your experience, how long did it take on average for a family to complete the intercountry adoption? Less than 6 months, 6 to 9 months, 9 to 12 months, 12 to 24 months, 24 months to 36 months, 36 months to 48 months, Over 48 months, We have not completed our adoption

LENGTH OF TIME
The following questions are meant to determine the length of time it takes to complete an adoption under current guidelines and procedures. If a question below does not apply to your experience, please indicate so by selecting “Not Applicable”.

3. What was the average time period between submission of the I-600A/I-800A documents and your receipt of a response from National Benefits Center (NBC)? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46 days +, Not Applicable
4. If you called or emailed the NBC, what is the average time period between your call or email and when you received a response from NBC? No response, 1-2 days, 3-6 days, 7 days +, Not Applicable
5. If you called or emailed the US Consulate/Embassy, what is the average time period between your call or email and when you received a response from the US Embassy? No response, 1-2 days, 3-6 days, 7 days +, Not Applicable
6. What is the average time period between submission of the I-600A documents and your receipt of a response from USCIS/NBC? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46 days +, Not Applicable
7. What is the average time period between submission of the I-800A documents and your receipt of a response from USCIS/NBC? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46 days +, Not Applicable
8. If you submitted the I-600A to the US Consulate/Embassy in the adoption country, what is the average time period between submission and your receipt of a response? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46 days +, Not Applicable
9. If you submitted the I-800A to the US Consulate/Embassy in the adoption country, what is the average time period between submission and your receipt of a response? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46 days +, Not Applicable

COMMUNICATIONS
The following questions are meant to determine the effectiveness and usefulness of current means of communication used to provide information to adoption service providers, on average, at various points in the intercountry adoption process.

10. How often, on average, do you or your families receive updates on the status of their cases from any U.S. government agency? (Note: This question is meant to focus on the dissemination of case specific information, not general country updates.) We received no updates, We received an update only when there had been a change in the status of their cases., We received an update on a regular basis, even when there was no new information to share., Other (please specify)
11. How were the updates referenced in question 10 most commonly provided? By phone, By email, By letter, In person
12. How often, on average, do you or your families receive updates about the status of intercountry adoption, generally, in the country from which you are adopting. We received no updates, We received an update only when there had been a change in the status of their cases. , We received an update on a regular basis, even when there was no new information to share. , Other (please specify)
13. How were the updates references in Question 12 most commonly provided? By phone, By email, By letter, By phone
14. On average, my communication with the NBC was helpful in understanding the status of my cases. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
15. Communications with the NBC were both informative and timely. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
16. Individuals representing the NBC were well informed about the law and the specifics of my cases. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
17. Individuals representing the NBC were courteous and professional. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
18. Generally speaking, my communication with the US Consulate/Embassy was helpful in understanding the status of my cases. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
19. Communications with the US Consulate/Embassy were informative and timely. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
20. Individuals representing the US Consulate/Embassy were well informed about the law and the specifics of my cases. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
21. Individuals representing the US Consulate/Embassy were courteous and professional. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree

ADJUDICATION PROCESS
These questions pertain to the adjudication of your cases by USCIS and State Department. Please respond to the questions below as they pertain to your experiences. If a question is not relevant to your adoption cases, please indicate so by selecting "Not Applicable".

22. On average, if your adoption cases initially received a determination of “not clearly approvable” from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, were you or your families told specifically why? Yes, No, Not Applicable
23. At any point after being notified that a case was not clearly approvable, did you or your families receive an explanation of what to expect next in the adjudication/investigation process? Yes, No, Not Applicable
24. On average, if your cases were referred to USCIS because the US Consulate/Embassy found they were "not clearly approvable", what was the final decision by USCIS?  The cases were approved without the need for any additional information, The cases received an RFE (request for evidence), The cases received a NOID (notice of intent to deny), Not Applicable
25. On average, if your cases received an RFE, were you or your families told specifically what additional evidence was needed to reply to the RFE?  Yes, No, Not Applicable
26. On average, was the information or further evidence needed something you or your families had been informed up front would be part of the evidence processed? Yes, No, Not Applicable
27. On average, did you or your families hire attorneys to assist with responding to an RFE? Yes, No, Not Applicable
28. On average, approximately how much money did it cost your families to respond to an RFE (including costs for the attorney, any field investigation work, and travel-related expense)? Under $5,000, Between $5,000 and $10,000, Over $10,000, Not Applicable
29. If your families received an RFE, NOID, or Denial in their cases, please indicate what the average identified insufficiency was that they were told led to this decision? Missing Documents, Concerns about the veracity of submitted information/documents, Paperwork submitted could not be affirmed through field investigation, Inability to interview birth parent(s)Child did not meet the legal definition of orphan for visa purposes, Other, Not Applicable
30. Were documents that you or your families provided to the Consulate/Embassy or USCIS ever lost? Yes, No, Don't Know
31. From the date when additional evidence was supplied to USCIS, how long did it take to receive a decision?  Less than a week, Between 2 to 4 weeks, One to three months3 to 6 months, Not Applicable

BIRTH MOTHER/PARENT INTERVIEWS
32. On average, did the Consulate/Embassy require that its officials interview the birth mothers/parents in your cases? Yes, No, Don't know
33. On average, how many times were the birth mothers/parents interviewed? Once, Twice, Three times, More than four times, Not Applicable
34. On average, did the birth mothers/parents report that they felt intimidated and/or confused during the interview? Yes, No, Don't know, Not Applicable

OPINIONS
35. Would you like to see a formal system in place to report commendable or unprofessional behavior on the part of an individual Consular officer to the Department of State?  Yes, No, No opinion
36. Would you like to see a formal system in place to report commendable or unprofessional behavior on the part of an individual officer to USCIS?  Yes, No, No opinion
37. Do you feel the Department of State adequately represented you or your families' needs/concerns to the foreign government involved in your adoption? Yes, No, No opinion
38. What specific recommendations do you have to improve the overall US Consulate/Embassy experience in the countries you operate in?
39. Do you have any specific comments about your experiences that you think might be helpful in improving the intercountry adoption experience for other prospective adoptive parents?

February 3, 2012

The adoption gene

I don’t know about you all, but I’m reaching a point of complete and utter frustration with certain segments of the adoptive parent community.

 
I mean, how many times do you have to explain the pain that thousands of living, breathing people have experienced because of adoption to get that it isn’t all about you? How many times do your stereotypes about “birth mothers” and “angry adoptees” have to be dismantled before you get that adoption stereotyping is wrong?

 
And how many times do you have to be told that the very real love you feel for your child isn’t proof that adoption is all good?

 
Maybe I’ve just lived too long or something, but I getting to a point at which I think it’s fruitless to even try to influence some APs out there. Between the religious zealots and the organized extremists, we - especially the adoptees - who are calling for something as unimpeachably logical and legally just as an adopted person’s right to access their original birth certificate are simply lost in the cacophony of pro-adoption rhetoric, or as Joy called called it, the “Hollywood informercials on adoption.”

 
*long defeated sigh*

 
I’m beginning to think it’s genetic. Yes, I think there must be some chromosome on some gene that renders the person with the abnormality incapable of approaching adoption objectively or logically.

 
I choose the word “abnormality” on purpose, because it is simply not normal (word again chosen on purpose) for anyone to believe that adoption can negate the billions of mother-child relationships that history has shown to be deeply significant, indeed often the most important relationship in a person’s life. It sort of flies in the face of logic that a desire to know one's roots, something our society considers a positive and worthy activity, should be of no importance when adoption enters the picture. It’s also not normal to even think it’s necessary to have such a point of view.

 
What’s normal is to recognize that the loss of the birth relationship would cause any human being to want to know more about their origins. The job of an adoptive parent is not to raise their children in spite of or opposition to this, but to raise them in full knowledge and support of it.

 
I’ve come to the conclusion that adoptive parents who fight this reality must be suffering from some kind of genetic syndrome - let’s call it Genetic Adoptive Syndrome, maybe GAS for short. I see the symptoms of this disease as:
  • An altered emotional and intellectual state which denies reality in favor of stereotypical beliefs about adoption
  • The inability to distinguish between adoptions which serve the needs of children and adoptions for the sake of adoption or AP desires
  • Loud and frequent periods of misguided rhetoric
  • An inflated sense of self
  • Dangerously high levels of hypocrisy
  • The absence of humility and sympathy
  • In extreme cases, an intense need to adopt even when contraindicated by objective evaluation
  • In epidemic strains of the disease, the need to organize into like-minded clusters which, for no other reason than their number, develop a sense of entitlement to control the entire adoption experience; sometimes called NCFAosis
  • An intense period of the munchies after acute episodes

 OK, maybe not that last one. But seriously, what other explanation can one possibly offer for why an adoptive parent might say something like this:
As a foster and adoptive parent I saw and heard way too many stories where these “birth men and women” (we do not say birth parent or birth mom. Parent and mom are titles earned) are given chance after chance to better themselves and they fail.
Dear Whoever-you-are:

1) If your personal experience with particular individuals has been as you describe it, then how about you keep your comments to you and them, rather then making generalizations.
2) Regarding earning your title, I’d bet dimes to doughnuts that you called yourself your child’s “parent” and “mom” the day that child entered your family.
3) You are suffering from GAS. Seek medical attention.

 
Really, it just makes me so damn tired. And angry.

 
But let’s think positively, shall we? This irrational, bizarre behavior cannot be a permanent condition. There must be a treatment – a cure or antidote of some sort.

 
If you find what it is, please let me know.