Sunday, May 11, 2008

Join the Chorus

This Mother's Day, Join The Chorus with Ethica

On this Mother's Day, the adoption community will celebrate and honor first and adoptive mothers for the love and care they've provided to their children. These mothers might be blocks or oceans apart, but connected through a desire to ensure their children's well-being and futures. We at Ethica, ask that you help contribute to their legacies by supporting ethical adoptions, practices, and policies.

Our work reminds us that motherhood through adoption has its challenges and sometimes, heartbreak. Unfortunately, adoptions can be tainted by questionable practices and the victimization of vulnerable members of the adoption triad. When problems arise, families and their advocates approach Ethica for guidance and assistance. Their stories speak for themselves:

- An American mother calls, seeking help to recover her child, whose "adoption" she never consented to.
- An anthropologist calls after interviewing ethnic minority Vietnamese women who are desperatelysearching for their children. They had been given as little as $31 USD as “poverty alleviation support,” promised that their children will be returned to them in several years, and that until then the orphanage will provide for them. The children have been internationally adopted without their consent.
- A family is stranded in Guatemala, abandoned by their adoption agency in the midst of new policy changes that essentially close adoptions while the country centralizes its process.
- A young woman adopted from Eastern Europe, and then left in the U.S. foster care system, wonders if she is a citizen since she has no immigration paperwork and needs to apply for federal assistance.
- Adopted children in an African orphanage tell their prospective adoptive parents about being sexually abused. As a result they are denied food, and the orphanage threatens to stop their adoptions.
- An adoption agency uses a bait-and-switch tactic, offering children to prospective adoptive parents despite not having the appropriate paperwork or histories, then switching the "referral" in-country.
- A Christian missionary group questions if their donations are being used to care for orphans as the poor conditions persist.
- Families report giving "donations" of $5-7,000 to Vietnamese orphanage directors in order to complete their adoptions. And yet two months ago, Ethica was asked to provide blankets and formula for babies dying from unusually cold weather....

Ethica receives 50-80 inquiries a week from adoption triad members in crisis. Over the past 6 years, we have assisted over 8,000 children and families, often advocating for them with the U.S. Department ofState, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and state attorney generals. Currently we are actively assisting over 200 children and families in the U.S., Guatemala, Vietnam, Liberia, Haiti, and Nepal.

In the United States, in addition to answering many questions and supporting individuals through difficult situations, we have conducted a review of state adoption laws. We have testified in person and in writing on adopted people'srights to their birth records. We have worked on cases involving the informed consent of first parents.

Our work involves human rights issues such as the trafficking of children into adoption. We have carried out several successful humanitarian aid projects to Liberia and Vietnam.

It is essential that Ethica continue to assist families in crisis and expand our advocacy initiatives. Ethica is the only truly independent adoption advocacy organization doing this vital work. Ethica represents all members of the adoption triad, and has no competing financial interest. To maintain our independence, we do not acceptmonetary support from anyone who places children for adoption.

Please consider joining our campaign, "Voices for Ethical Adoption." As an Ethica supporter, you are aware of the ethical challenges in adoption and the need to make ethics a priority. We need your voice. Our goal is to raise $20,000 in 15 days so that we can meet the increasing demand for our services. Unlike adoption agencies, we do not receive funds from placing children for adoption, so we rely on the community's goodwill and support.

A $100 donation allows Ethica to administer our humanitarian efforts for 1 month.

A $250 donation allows Ethica to train a state adoption regulator on adoption fraud and need for adoption consumer protection laws.

A $500 donation can keep the Ethica phone lines open for 1 year.

A $1,000 donation can cover Ethica's office rent for 4 months.

Thank you for your past and continued efforts to promote a dialogue on ethical adoptions!

Linh Song, MSW
Executive Director
Ethica, Inc.

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