Links to Think

Links to Think: 14.06.08

June 9, 2014


“Shattered Families” – International adoption is one of many ways to “care for widows and orphans.” But, in our good intentions and from our place of privilege, it can be easy to look for easy solutions that ignore what is really going on. I have loved learning about the Abide Family Center in Uganda. They believe that children belong in families, not orphanages, and work to empower vulnerable families to keep their kids.

Megan, one of Abide’s co-founders, has written two important posts on the subject, relevant to a broad audience as we all consider our unique roles of loving orphans, oppressed, and the marginalized. Her words are at times difficult to swallow, but carry a vastly important message.

“We’re the ones who have watched grandmothers sob when told their child is now in America.

We’re the one who have seen falsified documents with our own eyes. Documents that claim this parent is dead when they’re standing right in front of us.

We’re the ones who have sat with adoptive parents and begged, begged them, to reconsider. Because those children? Their mom is right outside and she says she wants her babies back.”

“We’re the ones who have sat across from a mother who says, “I would have kept my baby if someone, anyone, had offered to help me keep her. I was just too poor”

We’ve seen children stolen and birth families coerced and money exchange hands and false documents written up. We’ve seen it with our own eyes.

And yet you don’t listen. You don’t believe us.

Us, who are on the ground. We are being called liars and cynics and exaggerators and ones who don’t really care about children.

I get it. I really do. You believe your adoption is different [and oh I so hope it is]. Your agency is legitimate. Your lawyer is honest. You want to believe what you’re told by them, and so you do. And you silence us. Because our experiences and our stories? They make you doubt. And you can’t doubt a child you’ve already birthed in your heart.

I believe in adoption with all my heart. I think it is an incredible and beautiful way to make beauty from the ashes. But this corruption? It’s eating away at the system, it’s eating away at birth families left childless, and adoptive families left in grief- adoptive families who were trying so hard to do it right- and children. The children. They’re always caught in the middle.

I want it cleaned up. I want the children who truly need international adoption to be the only ones leaving this country. I want birth families who can be kept together left intact. I want the corrupt lawyers and orphanage directors and government officials to stop making money off of shattered families. That’s why I speak out.

That’s why I wish people would just start listening.”

Part two of this series is found here, where Megan writes suggestions of ways to help (only excerpts shared in the post; visit link to read entire post):

“1. Start listening, and believing, the stories. When we talk about giving the voiceless a voice, don’t forget about the shattered families international adoption can leave in its wake.

2. Start putting as much passion and energy into preserving families as we put into getting adopted children home. I dream of the day when media campaigns and lobbying is done for vulnerable families at the same level it is done for international adoption.

“The T.M.I. Pregnancy” – I realize that there are numerous factors influencing an individual’s choice to access all information and that there are just as many opinions on the subject (as there are with anything having to do with anything parenting related); however, when the “too much information” during nine months of pregnancy isn’t even always accurate, can lead to harmful intervention, and is a contributor to unnecessary panic (and even termination), I think we have a lot of thinking to do on how much information is too much. This is merely an opinion piece on how the medical treatment of pregnancy has changed in recent decades, but it does challenge me to think again whether or not our excessive medical testing is actually necessary.

(This is one of many reasons we make the choice not to have an ultrasound during pregnancy, although, please let me be clear that if an external factor indicated a genuine medical use of ultrasound, I would eagerly use this modern technology.)

“I’m not a Luddite. Prenatal science has helped a lot people and people-to-be. But just because a patient can know something, must she? There’s so much information available now. Pregnancy is treated like a nine-month illness cured by childbirth. Odds are in this baby’s favor, yet every sonogram adds something scary to the pot. What is one of the most joyous times of life has turned into something ominous and fraught, loaded with the potential to go wrong.”

“Knowing you’re going to deliver an undersize, breech baby with short long bones is not relaxing news. Erika’s blood pressure soars. Her ankles swell. To avoid preeclampsia, she has the baby delivered two weeks early by C-section. That morning’s sonogram predicts the baby will weigh less than 5 pounds. The baby weighs 6 pounds 9 ounces.”

“He Will Not Let Go” – Great encouragement in song from Laura Story.


“Everyday courage has few witnesses. But yours is no less noble because no drum beats for you and no crowds shout your name.” -Robert Louis Stephenson

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  • Jessie June 9, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    When my sister was 6 weeks pregnant, doctors noticed the baby’s head was too big. They thought the baby was going to die at birth and it was recommended they end the pregnancy.

    It was really hard for them. In the end, the baby had no issues, but they did think at first the baby would die, and then they started applying for a lot of therapy when they thought it meant retardation (in the true sense of the word).

    At the same time, I do know of a couple (I think we are mutual friends) whose testing allowed them to prepare physically and emotionally for thei ultimately deceased child.

    It’s hard to think about knowing people on both sides of receiving this type of info.

    We didn’t have insurance for our sons birth, so we only got the anatomy scan at 21 weeks. All was well, but I can imagine having a lot if scans might make me even more nervous.

  • Johanna Hanson June 11, 2014 at 7:28 am

    So the rub is that modern technology is so important when needed, but we are scaring way too many people. I am one who suffered from unneeded drama in a couple of my pregnancies. After Olivia’s ultrasound to determine sex I got a call from my doctor. It was her, not someone from the office. Her tone of voice, etc, was so depressing and dramatic. She informed me that the measurements for Olivia’s neck, etc, were large and therefore indicated she quite possibly had down syndrome. She recommended that we have the genetic testing done so that we could terminate the pregnancy. I was so taken aback by how quickly we went from “might be a problem” to termination. (We were in a very liberal state – MA -so it was a little to be expected, but still). I declined the testing and just told her that no matter what the baby was like we wanted her. She was somewhat gruff but didn’t give me too much push back. I was shaken up, but thankfully we just decided not to share that and not to worry about it since the chances were still very small. Of course she was born with no abnormalities whatsoever.

    On the other hand, in the past month I’ve had three friends go through some pretty traumatic birth situations one of which resulted in a still birth, the other two where the mother’s lives were in very serious danger (extremely high pre-ecclampsia, and excessive loss of blood). Medical intervention saved two lives, though couldn’t save one babies life.

    I think balance is key. When you are having a “normal” pregnancy don’t borrow trouble, just relax because it causes undue stress, but like you said be thankful for the intervention when it is needed. That being said, I love that here in Scotland, they only routinely do the 20wk u/s and even that you can easily decline. At checkups they listen to the heartbeat and take blood pressure, that’s it. But it is still 100% midwives here even though you got through the medical system. Doctors are only ever on call for surgery or other major complications. And the UK death rate for mothers and babies is still much lower than the US…we should pay attention to that and how they practice…