It’s true. There are listings of African children (from Ethiopia and elsewhere) who are now available for adoption through the US foster care system.
Here’s the deal: these children left their first country, after their American parents had (we hope) followed all legal requirements to adopt them. They then lived with those parents, in the US, with all those adjustments of internationally adopted children. Then those parents terminated their parental rights (voluntarily or otherwise), the children ended up in foster care, and now they have to find another family.
Since they usually become US citizens upon arrival to the United States, internationally adopted children who end up in US foster care may not be immediately or publicly identified as international adoptees. I feel confident there are plenty of other internationally adopted children (from Russia, Guatemala, Haiti, and elsewhere) who have joined the approximately 100,000 children looking for families through the US foster care system. Children in foster care spend an average of 2 years there, while reunification and adoption are considered.
About half the children in US foster care return to their families. That does not seem a possibility for these internationally adopted children: they can’t return to their original countries, and they no longer have a US family.
In other news:
Black American infants, primarily from Florida, are being placed with Canadians, ostensibly because many of the mothers don’t want their children to face the racism here in the United States.
Petitions and protests are being heard from American parents who have legal custody of children from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is not issuing exit visas to the children, because of concerns around fraud and corruption.
The Facebook site Second Chance Adoptions has many postings about internationally adopted children from Congo, Russia, Ethiopia, and elsewhere, whose placements with their American families have disrupted, and now they need new families. These children aren’t in public foster care, and they aren’t being re-homed in a Wal-Mart parking lot. I’m not sure who has legal custody of them, but the process and expense, I imagine, for a new family will be the same as a private adoption here in the US. In these cases, though, it’s the (first set of) adoptive parents who will sign legal rights over to the (new) adoptive parents. Many of the adoptions are eligible for the adoption tax credit. I wonder how many of their first adoptions were also eligible for the tax credit.
The adoption agency behind Second Chance Adoptions is Wasatch International Adoptions, located in Utah. On their web page, they offer information about adoptions of children from the DRC, with this caveat: “Children who come into our orphanage are generally between the ages of 2-5 or 6. We do not have children who are older because we have found that older children do not adjust well to an American home and family.”
I can only how imagine how they learned that sobering bit of information.
I have a few questions, although my head is spinning.
What more evidence do we need that better pre-adoption screening and better post-adoption resources are needed?
What is the trajectory for these internationally adopted children who arrive in the US and then their adoptive placement falls apart?
Do the US adoption agencies which placed the children the first time have an ethical responsibility to the children? And the second time? What does that responsibility look like? What is their ethical responsibility to the country of origin, if not the family of origin?
How does the US foster care system deal with the needs of internationally adopted children? How are their needs different from US children born here, raised here, and placed in foster care here? Children generally end up in foster care because of abuse and neglect. The international children would likely also have experienced that either in their country of origin or here in the US or both, but have some extra losses by virtue of leaving their countries.
What is the role of racism in the lives of any of these children who are from Africa, the Caribbean, Central America, or Asia? They go from living someplace where most people look like them, and then enter the US and live with families who may not look like them at all. Maybe they live somewhere in America where few people look like them. Then they must leave that family for another family (maybe). Racism here in the US will impact them now and for their entire lives, along with whatever issues of loss and trust they may be dealing with. Meanwhile, black American children are going to Canada, where the First Nations and the Inuit have certainly had their struggles
All children deserve safe and loving families. I hope that all these children find families and healing.
What is going on with our child welfare system? Before we consider anything like the Children in Families First act, we need to resolve the many issues facing current international adoptees.
My head hurts and my heart aches. That discomfort pales beside what these children are going through.