Advocates of inter-country adoption and domestic adoption used to find themselves in separate camps, promoting their cause while ignoring or criticizing the other one.
Fortunately, most child welfare advocates today no longer see the need to beat down some needy children to uplift others.
But not all.
In a Washington Post piece called “Congress should focus on interstate rather than international adoptions,” Jeff Katz, the Executive Director of Listening to Parents, draws attention to the need for more interstate adoptions by getting the facts about international adoptions wrong. And distorting the few he has right.
Katz implies that the Children In Families First Act (CHIFF) attempts to circumvent the Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoptions. But CHIFF does not weaken the Hague Convention, it strengthens it.
Katz then argues that abuses in international adoption have been “widespread.” But records and investigations demonstrate that in spite of sensational media attention, abuses have not been widespread.
If Katz had cared about fairness and accuracy, he could have said “instances of abuse” or “allegations of widespread abuse.” Or better yet, he could have refrained from attacking a piece of legislation that would save lives and does nothing to detract from foster adoptions. Instead, he could have promoted his cause without tearing down solutions for foreign children.
Everyone I know involved in international adoptions has avoided calling any attention to problems in foster adoption. And I will continue to do the same. There are problems I won’t mention, including child-on-child abuse in foster homes, ineffective systems that block foster kids from being adopted for years on end, and bigoted agencies refusing to place children with qualified parents because of their biases. Those problems I am not going to mention I’m sure constitute a tiny percentage of foster adoptions anyway.
Let’s be clear: Jeff Katz is hurting thousands of children (out of millions in need) with his errors and advocacy. He is going to work against them by smearing a piece of legislation that would save tens of thousands of them from early death or being trafficked for sex or forced labor.
That’s not classy. Or fair. Those children, both in and out of our United States, deserve better.