International Adoption In The News

In recent years there has been an increased amount of attention paid to international adoptions. While there has been a long history of childless parents in rich countries adopting children from less developed countries, it has only been in recent years that this has become a really newsworthy event. The reason for this change can be attributed to the notoriety of adoptive parents like Madonna or Angelina Jolie. These high-profile adoptions have rekindled the debate about the propriety of international adoption in today's world.
From the age of European Exploitation through the middle 20th century the idea of childless rich couples adopting unfortunate orphans from the colonies or less developed countries, while not widely practiced, was accepted as part of the nobles oblige of the aristocratic class. While these children were never completely accepted into class of their parents, it was nearly universally accepted that they were better off than if they had been left in their natural destitute state in their homelands. Their adoption in the more advanced society was assumed to be to their benefit.

That began to change after World War II as the former colonies began to obtain their independence. Many liberal thinkers in the West and anti-colonial revolutionaries in the less developed countries began to think that removing children from their birth cultures was a form of cultural genocide. They claimed that the birth cultures were in some way purer and less corrupted than the decadent societies of the rich West. As the brutal corruption of one revolutionary government after another became evident on the world stage, these claims began to subside. In any case, there were never enough children lost to adoption in any society to justify the claims of cultural genocide.

After the fall of the Soviet Block, international adoption began to creep back into the news as the orphanages in Romania were discovered by the international press. The large number of children, many with serious diseases, in these failed institutions caused many religious organizations to again urge their constituents to start adopting these children. It can be successfully argued that the rise in adoption in this case, from orphanages in Second World countries like Romania, saved many lives as their new parents were able to afford medical care that these collapsed states could not. Few people complained of cultural genocide, probably because the apparent racial similarity of the children to their parents made their assimilation into their new society much easier.

In recent years, the rise of a few high profile entertainers adopting children from Africa and Southeast Asia has begun to generate a more reasoned discussion about the issue of international and interracial adoption. In this case, while many cynics posture about the public relations value of these adoptions to their parent’s career, there can be no doubt that the new parents have more than enough money to provide their children with every material and medical advantage that they would not have had in their birth country or birth society.

The question then becomes whether these material advantages out weigh the cultural connection these children loose with the society of their birth. In an earlier age, when their race, based on their physical appearance, was sufficient to completely deny them a place in their new society as adults, this question was perhaps easier to answer. In today’s less imperfect society, that racial separation is not as distinct and life limiting as it was in an earlier age, so it is easier for the international adoptee to find a place in their new society. This makes this now a question of changing societies rather than loosing a society.

There will never be enough of these adoptions to make a difference on cultures on either side of the adoption equation. But the lives of the individual adoptee and their new parents will almost certainly be affected. Whether that will be for good or evil, will probably have less to do with the cultural differences of their backgrounds, than whether the new parents provide a loving, caring relationship where the child can flourish. And that sounds like an awfully normal problem.
This artilce has been viewed: 0 times this month, and 17 times in total since published.