In 2007 on our adoption trip to the Peoples Republic of China, we toured our newly adopted 3-year-old daughter Hong Mei’s orphanage. We had considered Chinese adoption for many years and had seen many photos, a documentary, and videos of what we might encounter in a Chinese orphanage. Despite my preparation, I found myself completely overwhelmed by the experience.
Dear Reader, try if you can picture yourself in a government building attractive from the outside, but in reality, was a poorly constructed, filthy concentration camp for children. Small unlit rooms were filled with cribs absorbing nearly all the floor space, with two or three babies per crib. Toddlers tied all day to potty chairs to catch waste; flies crawling across their expressionless faces. Despite the great number of babies and toddlers, not a cry or coo was heard. Children in orphanages learn quickly, no matter how uncomfortable they feel, or how badly they hurt, not to cry, because their cries are ignored. Their first attempts at language are not encouraged. They spend every day, all day, never rocked, never held. The few adult caregivers available are overwhelmed by the seemingly endless sea of humanity which takes all their time just to prepare and pass out bottles, and handwash cloth diapers and clothes, and change diapers, all without modern conveniences. Death is a common occurrence releasing the young inmate from an earthly prison.
Feral older children run thru the courtyard punching and pushing one another out of boredom. No toys or books are found. A playground is provided resting on hard concrete. When these children are young teenagers they will be released to the streets without social and job skills. Some of the girls will be absorbed into the sex slave industry.
For the briefest of moments I had a Mother Theresa experience. My spirit cried out in protest, “G-d where are you!! How can you allow this to happen!!?” I received the answer: we mere mortals were put on earth to succor up the fatherless and the orphans. Those of us there that day were doing the work of imperfect earthly angels. Riding back to our hotel on a bus, no one spoke. Mothers quietly sobbed holding tight their little one, and tears ran down the faces of the fathers.
I stand as a witness today dear reader, that there are conservative estimates of 10 million children in the world who are orphaned or abandoned who live in such facilities or even worse on the street. Every fiber of my being testifies that every child deserves a family. Every child deserves love and opportunities only a family can provide.
For the last 60 years international adoption was an avenue for couples and singles looking to become parents, and for families like ours who looked to expand our family by including an adopted child into our fold. The numbers have steadily risen to peak in the United States at 22,884 in 2004. The numbers of internationally adopted children has plummeted to less than half in five years. Other countries cite similar statistics
Shocking enough, the reason for the sudden drop in adoptions is human rights organizations run by the United Nations who began to: bully, coerce, and otherwise discourage the international adoption process. The adoptive family is under attack and, dear reader, we need your help.
Organizations such as UNICEF and Save the Children promote the idea that unparented children should be kept at almost all costs in their country of origin. Elizabeth Barlot, a law professor at Harvard University, and Faculty Director of the Child Advocacy Program, at Harvard Law School, has written an important article that details the negative effect groups like UNICEF and the liberal media have had on thousands of children who are right now denied the basic right of a family
It is shocking to me that those who claim to uphold the human rights of defenseless children are the ones who are destroying the likely hood that some of these children will be able to be adopted into loving families. Years ago, it was common for internationally adopted children to be placed as infants, now it is unlikely a child will be adopted before age one and most after age two. Child development experts warn of the life long damage that prolonged institutionalized care does to babies and toddlers.
Opposition is now beginning to mount in the form of a grassroots campaign Both Ends Burning with the goal of obtaining 1 million signatures. The following is the statement written by Elizabeth Bartholet from Harvard University: International Adoption: The Human Rights Position
International adoption is under siege, with the number of children placed dropping in each of the last several years, and many countries imposing severe new restrictions. Key forces mounting the attack claim the child human rights mantle, arguing that such adoption denies heritage rights and often involves abusive practices. Many nations assert rights to hold on to the children born within their borders, and others support these demands citing subsidiarity principles. But children’s most basic human rights are to grow up in the families that will often be found only through international adoption. These rights should trump any conflicting state sovereignty claims.
•International adoption is under siege by those claiming the human rights mantle.
• Children’s most fundamental human rights include the right to a nurturing family which is often available only through international adoption.
•Children’s fundamental human rights should trump state sovereignty claims.
•Neither adoption abuses nor concepts of heritage justify restrictive international adoption policies, in-country holding periods or the elimination of private adoption interme- diaries.
•International adoption appropriately recognizes children as citizens of a global community with basic human rights entitlements.
We know as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” The well-being of the family is essential to our core beliefs, it is an opportunity for you, dear reader to take a positive stand on affirming the family, and choose to to help with this pro-family cause.
Every once in awhile liberals and conservatives come together to protest for a righteous reason and this is one of those times. This organization, Both Ends Burning, needs all of our help to promote that every child deserves a family. Both Ends Burning has produced the award wining documentary Stuck ( trailer shown above), which champions the plight of defenseless orphans. Please, for a moment, put aside your political views, join with many of us, no matter what your political viewpoint is, to have your voice heard in “celelebrating the family” and for the a basic right of a family for all children.
What can you do to help?
Both Ends Burning organizers need your help in signing a petition, and they will present this petition to the leaders of our government with a goal of 1 million signatures. Please see “Stuck” when it comes to your city. If “Stuck” is not scheduled to be shown in your city, please make a request. Join Both Ends Burning, the Face book page, share the youtube video trailer, and invite everyone you know to please sign this petition. Maybe many of us doing a little will be able to turn the tide and allow for thousands of abandoned and orphaned children to be adopted into a family, as is their basic human right.
For more information see: