Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Medina Life, January through March

Lots of dress up days at HOPAC this term.  This one:  Crazy Hair Day.  The Tanners were staying with us that week so Caleb and Imani got in on the craziness as well.

And here we have Sadness and Disgust.

Book week:  Quicksilver, the Owl from Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears, and a Masai girl from We All Went On Safari.

When he's not creating amazing costumes for our children, Gil is teaching in our theological training program.  

One of the best parts of HOPAC is Service Emphasis Week, when the entire school goes out on service projects.  These next few pictures are from Lily's first grade class playing with the kids at a local pre-school.  

Meanwhile, Johnny started his own long-desired pre-school classes twice a week.  The most important part is the backpack, of course.  

Grace played U11 basketball this term, and her amazing coach is there in the background.

On the day of the final tournament, HOPAC had enough players for two teams.  They both won their brackets, which means they played each other in the final game.  When the two teams started off the game with handshakes, they quickly turned to hugs.  It was all pretty wonderful.

Sweating for Jesus on our church's sports day.  It just happened to be about 110 degrees that day.  Yes, I did just about die.  Thanks for asking.  

Our friend Grace, who has been through our training program.

Our own Grace, winning the sack race.

Me not winning in musical chairs.

Reuniting with our Lotta, whom we hadn't seen in about three years.  She was my student in grades 5 & 6, then she was Gil's student, and she even lived with us one year.  We love her.

Reuniting with our friend Zahir, way back from our first term in Tanzania in 2001.  We hadn't seen him in about 13 years.   We love him too.

Gil was invited to be the keynote speaker at a retreat over the Easter weekend.  

This conference was for university students, with an organization Americans would know as InterVarsity.  Gil got to teach about 80 university students for 3 days on the book of Habbakuk.

Since the kids were on spring break, we all headed to Morogoro with him (about 4 hours away inland) and enjoyed the slightly cooler weather there.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Gift Bag

In order to break the solemnity of the last two weeks on this blog, I offer you the following:

Last week, I needed to buy 76 liters (20 gallons) of ice cream for an all-school event at HOPAC.  So I headed out to our local grocery store and asked the manager if I could order 76 liters of vanilla ice cream to pick up on Friday morning.  After all, this is not Costco.  This store doesn't normally carry that much ice cream.

The manager and I got the order all sorted out, and then he re-appeared with a plastic grocery bag tied at the top with a shiny ribbon.  This is a thank-you gift, he told me.

Now, before I show you the contents, let me assure you that I am not complaining.  Customer service is not assumed around here, so I was quite pleased that the manager thought to extend this gift to me.

But I was also quite amused.

The gift bag contained:
1 box of popcorn
1 box of chocolate cookies
2 small jars of mayonnaise, one of them expired
11 trial sized toothpaste tubes in two flavors:  Neem, and Salt/Lemon (What?  You don't use those flavors?)
1 energy drink
1 can of ginger beer
1 container of mint mentoes
2 containers of strawberry tic-tacs
1 Spiderman top
1 unidentifiable triangular toy  

But the very best item of all was this:

This, my friends, is a very handy kitchen tool meant for microwaving apples.

I know you are jealous.

We unfortunately do not own a microwave, though I'm not sure that cooking apples in a microwave has ever been a top priority.

You know what this means, don't you?  I now have in my possession the most perfect White Elephant Gift ever.  Shhh.....don't tell anybody.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Everything is Broken

We were mingling in the courtyard after church.  I was trying to keep track of my kids and was slightly distracted when the woman approached me.

I spent the first few moments trying to figure out if I knew her, since I'm still desperately trying to put names with faces at this church.  But when I realized she was only using Swahili with me, I figured I had never met her, since almost everyone at this church speaks English.  I shook her hand and smiled.
I'm looking for work, she told me.  Please, I'm looking for work.  I need to pay my son's school fees. He's in Form 4.  Do you have any work for me?  I can take care of your children.  I can wash your clothes.  I can sweep your house.   She spoke quickly and eagerly.

I gave her a sad smile.  I'm so sorry, I said.  I don't have any work for you.  I already have someone who works for me.  I will pray that God helps you, I said.

Please, she said.  Tell me if you know someone who needs work.  I need to pay my son's school fees.

Okay, I said.  I'll let you know if I find someone.

But I knew I wouldn't.  Because I'm already trying to help someone else find work.  Because I get this request all the time.  Because there's 40% unemployment in this city.

I am so tired.

Meaningless! Utterly Meaningless!  Everything is meaningless!  What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

I realized last week, as more people read my blog than ever before, that my most popular posts have criticized short-term missions, revealed the ugly flaws of missionaries, and torn apart international adoption.


I was one of those idealists in college.  You know the type--with their flushed cheeks and sparkly eyes, passion in their voices, volunteering for all sorts of noble causes.  I was going to change the world.  I never wavered in my ambitions, and I signed on to become a full-time missionary when I was all of 21 years old.

I think of all my confidence in so many solutions that I was sure were the answer.   And here I am at 39.  Fourteen years as a missionary in three different ministries.  Yet sometimes I feel like all I have seen is various forms of brokenness....in the problems, of course, but also in what I thought were the solutions.  And in myself.

All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full.  (Ecc. 1:7)

In the last few months, we've been devastated by massive brokenness in our mission leadership and in our Tanzanian church leadership.  We cry; we question; we rage.  We keep going, but it feels like everyone around me is limping.

All things are wearisome, more than one can say. (Ecc. 1:8)

I am just so tired.

I could choose to deny the reality of this brokenness.  I could watch a lot of television and eat a lot of chocolate and choose to turn my back on this reality.  I could try that, if I avoided the news and stayed at home all day.  Yet all I have to do is go to church and I meet a woman who can't afford to send her son to school.

Or I could descend into despair.  Many do, and it beckons me.  Sometimes the temptation is strong.

Or I could look to this Sunday.

I can look--once again--to my confidence that Jesus existed, that I can trust what the Bible says about him, that he really did enter into our madness to bring us hope.  I can remind myself that his death and resurrection really were the pinnacle of history, the axis around which everything else revolves, and the assurance that all really will be made right some day.

Jesus really is the only reason I have hope.  Without him, this world is just some cruel joke, some accidental freak of nature that will, eventually, disintegrate back into nothingness.  Why try to fight it?  Without him, denial or despair are my only options.

I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.  He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  (Ecc. 3:10-11)

Because of Sunday, I can have hope that he makes all things beautiful:  failed missionary efforts, corrupt adoption, desperate mothers in poverty.  I can have hope that eternity does exist, that God does know what he is doing, and that one day, it will all make sense.  I can get up in the morning and know that everything I do has purpose, that my small story is part of one grand story, and that this tragedy most certainly will have a happy ending.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Part 7: Is There Hope in This Mess We've Made?

Start here:  

A few years ago, we began the process to adopt a child from Ethiopia.  We did the homestudy; we filled in the ridiculous amount of paperwork and spent a ridiculous amount of money; we went through the on-line training.  We requested a healthy baby or toddler boy.  Our dossier was sent to Ethiopia....and then in the wake of the huge adoption slowdown in that country, our agency lost its license.  Eventually, for a number of reasons, we gave up.

I've thought about that experience a lot as I have been doing this research, and how close we came to being directly involved with everything I read about.

A friend recently shared with me the story of her adopted daughter from Ethiopia, who is now an adult.  She was adopted as a small child, and their agency told them that their daughter's family was untraceable.  Yet a few years later through a big coincidence, she and her husband were able to track down their daughter's birth family in Ethiopia, and get into contact with them.  

What they found out forever changed their perspective on international adoption.  They discovered that their daughter was indeed an orphan, but was being raised by an aunt and uncle who loved her and her older brother.  One day, social workers came to their village.  They rounded up all the babies and small children who were orphaned or impoverished, and told the families that they would be better cared for in an orphanage.  This little girl was one of these children; they left the older brother behind.  The social workers only wanted the small ones.  In fact, though the birth family knew the child's exact birthday and that she was five years old, the adoptive family was told she was three.

The children were taken to an orphanage, and without the knowledge of the families, quickly put up for adoption.  The aunt and uncle said that they tried and tried to get in touch with the orphanage or the social workers, but could never find out anything about their niece.  After enough time, they assumed the little girl was dead.  They heard nothing more until the day a few years later when my friend--the adoptive mom--was able to contact them.

Eventually, the adoptive family took their daughter to Ethiopia to meet her biological family.  The family was thrilled that their niece was alive and doing well, and everyone involved is content with the situation.  But the hard reality is that the birth family was never consulted about their niece being adopted, and it might not have even needed to happen.

It's absolutely sickening that something as beautiful as adoption could be high-jacked by people who just want to make a profit--even at the expense of the world's most vulnerable children.

I wish it wasn't true.

I started out by saying how UNICEF had become enemy.  I even mentioned it a few times in posts on this blog.  But I get it now.  I still strongly disagree with some of their philosophies, but I get why they encouraged Tanzania to tighten up on their adoption regulations.  I get why they say that non-citizens should be residents for three years before they can adopt.  Because until Tanzania is ready to implement the Hague convention, the only way they can protect their children is by shutting out international adoption.  

I think back ten years ago, to the time when we went to pick up Grace from her orphanage.  The room was filled with beautiful, healthy babies, yet Grace was the only one who was eligible for adoption.  The rest had locatable family members, and the hope was that someday they would be reunited.  However, I wonder what would have happened to those babies if money was infused into the adoption system, but with no regulation?  If the orphanage suddenly found itself receiving mandatory "donations" for every child adopted?  If the lawyers found themselves with regular, lucrative work, and the social workers were benefiting under the table?  Assuming history would repeat itself in Tanzania, then all of a sudden those "unadoptable" babies would lose their paperwork.  The motivation to reunite families would be gone.  And when those babies were "used up," more would be found.  After all, there's got to be a supply to fill the demand.  And that's why I'm fighting against this in Tanzania.

I've always been a proponent of domestic adoption in Africa.  I always thought that it could exist side-by-side with international adoption.  But now I understand that domestic adoption--that mindset, those values, must be in place first, before international adoption can take place.   I pray often that our family sets an example for Tanzanian families that adoption is good and beautiful and possible.  We talk about it in our pastoral training program.  In fact, we currently know two Tanzanian couples who are pursuing adoption right now because of what they saw in our family.  To God be the glory.  I pray that there will be more.  There needs to be more.

So where do we go from here?

This series has gotten more traffic than anything I've ever written on my blog.  Yet I must admit that even though I'm glad the word is getting out, I'm not super excited about it.  I lost a lot of sleep this week.  I hate that I felt compelled to write about this.  I hate that it's even true.  I hate that it's going to turn off a lot of people towards considering adoption.  I hate that it will make people look suspiciously at the adopted children they know.  I hate that these posts throw a bucket of sludge onto something that should be good and beautiful.

So here is my final plea:

First, we remember that God redeems.  Children are left as orphans, and adoption redeems them.  We screw up adoption, and God can redeem that too.  Please don't use this series as a reason to never consider international adoption.  Please don't use this series as a reason to question the motives of the adoptive parents you might know.

But let's work harder not to screw it up in the first place.  I've always been an advocate for adoption, but I've also been an advocate for poverty alleviation that helps and doesn't hurt.  Before this journey, I never thought about the connection between those two passions.  Now I get it.

I wish it was simple.  Adoption should be, shouldn't it?  You want to help a child; there's a child who needs your help.  Why should that be so complicated?  We must remember that even in the best intentions, sin is there.  Even in the purest form of worship, the highest form of service, sin is there.  Any endeavor on this side of heaven is tainted by sin.  And any time we forget that, we give opportunity for that sin to fester and grow.

In everything, we must be on our guard.

Love the orphan....but love her family first.

Love adoption....but only when there are no other options.

Keep our eyes open.  Listen to the critics.

Trust in God's sovereignty....but refuse to knowingly participate in evil.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Part 6: What About the Children Who Really Do Need Adoption?

Start here:  

The orphanage director in Tanzania was initially thrilled to receive the email:  "We want to adopt Freddy!"  Freddy is five years old, was abandoned, and has HIV.  He is handsome, friendly, and desperate for a family.  In just a few short weeks, the plan was to transfer him to a long-term orphanage.  This family would most likely be Freddy's last chance for a real home.

Then the director realized that the adoptive family are not residents of Tanzania; they live in America.  They were working with a U.S. adoption agency who is ignoring Tanzanian residency requirements.  She was devastated.  She had to tell the family, "I'm sorry, you cannot adopt Freddy.  My orphanage, and our local social workers, will not allow American families to break Tanzanian law."

Do you see the dilemma?  On one hand, there are unscrupulous agencies, who are working with unscrupulous lawyers, who could very well make Freddy's adoption possible.  He would no longer be an orphan; he would be a son and a brother and have every opportunity at his fingertips.  Or, he could live the rest of his life in an institution where his needs will be met, but not much more.

It's the kind of ethics that college students debate about but never really have to face.  Do the ends justify the means?  Sure, we want to clean up international adoption.  Sure, we want to end corruption and bribery.  But what about the children?  What about the ones who really do need adoption?  What happens to them?

This is the question you must ask yourself:  Is it worth it for Freddy to be adopted, if it means that hundreds of other children will be subsequently, unnecessarily, separated from their families?  There's a strong correlation.  Opening the way for Freddy to be adopted by breaking Tanzanian law would pave the road of corruption that leads to the exploitation of hundreds of other families.  And I am confident of this because it has been documented in country...after country...after country.

This is why we simply cannot see international adoption as the answer to the orphan crisis.  It is one of the answers, but only in countries where the process is heavily regulated by a strong central authority.  That means that for kids like Freddy, it's much better to support, encourage, or even start(!) programs and plans within the country to help orphans, instead of adopting them out.

However, please know that there are plenty of countries which do have regulated adoption programs and enough government infrastructure in place to ensure they will be ethical.  Though this series may come off as anti-international adoption, I assure you I am not.  Please, please...if you have a strong desire to adopt internationally, go for it.  Adoption is good and beautiful--and desperately needed for many children.  Don't let the pitfalls scare you off.  You just need to arm yourself with plenty of information and keep your eyes wide open.  There are many ways to ensure you have an ethical adoption.  So here's my advice:

1.   Read this book.  
In Defense of the Fatherless:  Redeeming International Adoption and Orphan Care (by Amanda Bennett and Sara Brinton).  In some ways, this entire series is a summary of this book.  I have read over a dozen books on adoption, covering adoption theology, adoption processes, adoption options.  Not one Christian book has dealt with the hard topic of adoption ethics until this book came out less than a year ago.  This book is excellently researched, tough and truthful, yet compassionate.  It is absolutely a must-read for any Christian considering international adoption, anyone involved in the industry, or anyone advocating for international adoption.

2.  Choose a country before you choose an agency, and choose a country that is implementing the Hague Adoption Convention.  Though this alone will not guarantee an ethical adoption, it will help significantly.  Countries which have signed to the Hague Convention are required to have a program which prioritizes domestic adoption.  They also must have a central authority capable of regulating international adoption, which helps to ensure that a particular child is truly needing adoption.  Keep in mind that if you choose a non-Hague country, you must do far more research on both the country and your agency if you want to ensure the adoption will be ethical.

3.  Do not choose a country based on whichever seems to be the fastest, easiest, and cheapest.  Choose a country based on how well their adoption program is organized, and whether they have a long-standing, effective program.  Do your own research as to the adoption laws of that country.  Find out how the country decides whether a child should be adopted, and how they determine who can adopt that child.  Find out for yourself whether or not you qualify.  Unfortunately, you may not even be able to trust all of the information on the Department of State website, since it is currently not accurate for Tanzania.

4.  This one is my own personal soapbox:  If a country has a residency requirement to adopt a child....then either move to that country or choose a different country!  You follow your own country's adoption laws....what gives you permission to break another country's laws?

5.  After you have chosen a country, then look for a trustworthy agency that works in that country.  During the course of this series, some people have asked me for a list of "good" and/or "bad" agencies.  I can't do that.  It is a spectrum.  In all honesty, at this point I would have a hard time trusting most agencies that work in non-Hague countries--and there are probably hundreds of those agencies.  Most agencies are not evil.  However, many demonstrate ethnocentric principles that I cannot endorse.

Remember, the U.S. government has very few regulations in place to keep adoption agencies accountable.  Therefore, you must be in complete control of your adoption process.  That's why I encourage you to research and choose a country before you choose an agency.  That will help you to know what is supposed to happen and what questions you need to ask.  You must do your homework before you find an agency you can trust.  Here are some sample questions:
  • How long have you worked in this country? 
  • What is the process to match a child with a family?  Who makes the decisions?  (Should be the decision of a central government authority, not the orphanage or the agency)
  • Who do you work with on the ground?  (Again, should be a central authority, not a local social welfare officer, a lawyer, facilitator, or orphanage director.)
  • Where does the money go, especially in-country?  (You should expect nothing less than a very specific, itemized list of how money is spent.)
  • Does the orphanage require a donation?  (If so, then it's not a donation, it's a fee.)  What kind of confidence do you have that the orphanage will use that money in an ethical way?
  • What is your philosophy on family preservation?  (You should receive a confident, well-thought out answer on how the agency works to preserve birth families.)
  • How do you ensure that the child I am placed with is a true orphan with no family prospects?  (Agencies should be wanting to guarantee that you will be given the true background of the child, and they should have safeguards in place to ensure the information is correct.)
More suggested questions for agencies here, from Jen Hatmaker.  

Google the agency's name along with "corruption" and see if anything comes up.  Pay attention to Facebook groups, blogs, and message boards by other families who have adopted from that country or with that agency.  Do not discount what they have to say.  

5.  Choose a "waiting child."***

A "waiting child" is one who already has been deemed adoptable, and he is waiting for a family to select him.  When you choose a waiting child, you are helping a child find a family.  In contrast, when you send in a descriptive list of the child you are looking for, then the agency is helping you find a child--instead of helping a child find a family.  See the difference?  Read these quotes:

"While many assume the orphan crisis means there are orphanages full of babies who need to be adopted, this is simply not true.  There is a significant need for international adoption, but there are very few healthy babies and young children waiting in orphanages." (Defense of the Fatherless) 

"Most adoption demand in the United States continues to be for healthy infants or young children, whereas most of the children who are legitimately parentless or in need of an adoptive home are older, sicker, or more damaged from trauma than most families are willing to take."  (Kathryn Joyce)

"UNICEF estimates that 88 percent of the world's orphans are over the age of five...However, 89 percent of children adopted by American families were under the age of five." (DF)

What this means:  Do not go into international adoption if what you only want is a healthy baby--unless you are willing to wait for years to be matched.  However, if you are willing to bring home an older child or a special needs child--a "waiting child"--then international adoption could be what you are looking for.  Most of the corruption in international adoption has been fueled by the demand for healthy babies.  Yes, there are some legitimately abandoned or orphaned babies available--but not often.  Make sure you fully understand this reality before you decide to adopt.

***Special note on "waiting children."  Unfortunately, I've heard situations where even this concept is abused by adoption agencies.  Sometimes children are posted on websites as "waiting" when they are still living with family and haven't even been approved for adoption.  Before you choose a waiting child, you must have already gone through all the other precautionary steps.

Continue reading: 
Part 7:  Is There Hope In This Mess That We've Made?

Friday, March 11, 2016

Part 5: God Told Me To....Or Maybe He Didn't

Start here:  

This post is a particular plea to my Christian brothers and sisters.

On the morning of his fourth birthday, my precocious nephew Natie told his Mom, "I talked to God last night, Mommy.  God told me that I can skip four and go straight to five."

Of course, we all had a good laugh on that one.

It's cute when a four-year-old claims that God told him to do something like skip a birthday.  Yet for some reason, when an adult claims that God told him to do something, we don't question it--no matter the claim.

I met a woman once who claimed that God told her to go to Africa as a missionary.  Unfortunately, God didn't give the same message to her husband.  So she dumped the husband and moved to Africa anyway.  Uh, really?  God would tell you to do that?

Sometimes Christians buy into the lie that if God tells someone to do something, the argument is closed.  The problem is that the way that God "tells" a person to do such things is usually based on either some sort of feeling or mystical experience, or an out-of-context verse of Scripture.

When many adoptive parents talk about their adoption experience, "God's call," "God's will," and "God told me to," comes up again and again.  I can understand this.  I do believe that God put the desire in our hearts to adopt.  Yet that strong desire has to submit itself to God's revealed will in Scripture.

After the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, a Christian woman named Laura Silsby and a group of Baptist missionaries tried to smuggle 33 children out of the country without any authorization, purportedly to get them adopted.  She had been warned by multiple people that she did not have the documentation to remove the children from the country, yet she was unfazed.

"[The journalist] d'Adesky later wrote, '[Silsby] repeatedly referred to God having called her to rescue the Haitian children.  God had spoken to her.  If God wanted them to succeed, they would." (Kathryn Joyce)

When Silsby and her group were later arrested by Haitian authorities, they claimed it was spiritual warfare.  After all, they had been on a mission from God.

The authors of In Defense of the Fatherless write, "While we agree that adoption and orphan care involve a spiritual battle, we have also seen a disturbing trend among Christian adoptive families.  Some Christians argue that anything standing in the way of an 'orphan' coming home to America is the work of the enemy.  For example, when a child's case is under review by the US Embassy, some Christian families say that anything that slows down the case is spiritual warfare--rather than the work of government officials who are trying to protect a child from trafficking."

I have to admit that this issue is personal for me.  As I have been fighting against the illegal international adoptions that have started in Tanzania, I continually read and hear, "But God told me to."  One agency (who has refused to communicate directly with me) even posted on their website that God will hold in judgment those who are speaking out against these adoptions, and that any prospective parents should ignore us.

Wow.  That hurts.  Here I am, a Christian missionary who has lived in Tanzania for 12 years, has adopted four children domestically, and is reading the same Bible they are....but apparently, I have no idea what I am talking about and God will judge me for it.  A friend of mine who is fighting this battle with me told me that this attitude is one of the reasons she has rejected Christianity.  After all, she is non-religious, and is striving to follow Tanzanian law, yet these self-proclaimed Christians are casually dismissing the law in the name of "God told me to."

What has happened to the Christian adoption movement, that we have spiritualized it to such a level that it negates all the other commands of Scripture?  How about "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities" in Romans 13?  Or does that verse only apply to American laws?  How about Proverbs 22:22, "Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court?"  How can justice for the poor include taking a family's children because of their poverty?

Should our desire to adopt a child supersede the laws of a country?  Does God allow us to decide that we know better for that child than her country's government?   Are we so concerned for the welfare of a child that we ignore the fact that her family could be exploited in the process?  Are we so fixated on adoption as rescue that we are willing to allow it to overrule God's direct commands in Scripture?

Of course, it's absolutely noble to fight for a child who truly needs a family, and to pray that God will change the hearts and minds of those in authority.  Let's do that wholeheartedly.  But let's not justify corruption, bribery, and skirting around a country's laws in the name of "God's will."

Continue reading:
Part 6:  What About the Children Who Really Do Need Adoption?
Part 7:  Is There Hope in This Mess We've Made?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Part 4: Pure Religion is to Look After Orphans (and Widows?)

Start here:  

"Without understanding the connection between poverty, injustice, and the orphan crisis, many Christians are responding with actions that have unintended consequences.  Christians are responding to the global orphan crisis primarily by supporting orphanages, going on mission trips to visit orphans, and encouraging adoption.  While all of these approaches may be necessary and at times helpful, they do nothing to address the poverty and injustice at the heart of the crisis.  We are treating the symptoms rather than the cause of the orphan crisis."  (In Defense of the Fatherless, abbreviated later as DF)

Ask any adoption advocate for their key verse, and they'll immediately quote you James 1:27.  Religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.

Funny thing is that we constantly quote this verse, but we all know that it's really the orphans that are most important.  The widows?  Well, they are just old ladies living in trailer parks.  Sure, it's nice to visit them, but they're okay out there.  There's really no widow crisis--just an orphan crisis.


But think about it.  In Scripture, what is the synonym for orphan?  Fatherless.  In fact, the King James version uses the word fatherless instead of orphan in this verse.  What does fatherless assume?  The kid has a mother.  A widow.

I would bet, given the historical context, that James 1:27 wasn't referring to two separate groups of people.  James could have put orphan and widow in the same verse because often orphans and widows went together.  Back then, widows were not always old ladies living alone.  Often they were young, and they were mothers.  What we know today as single moms.

The problem is that we often have an infatuation with children.

Children are easy, we often think.  We see them as helpless and vulnerable and needing our rescue.  We see their small sad faces and our parental instincts kick in.  It's easy to have compassion for a child.


Why, then, do we ignore the question of where all these children came from?  Behind every poor little child's face is a suffering mother and father.  There's a reason why children end up in orphanages, and most of the time, it's not because their parents are evil.  It's because their parents are broken.  Yet somehow, we would rather just help the child.  Orphans are so much easier to care about than widows.

We find ourselves unconsciously communicating that children are more important to us than their mothers.  Do we not realize that the "widows"--the mothers of these children--need our help just as much?  "According to the Half the Sky Movement, 'women aged 15-45 are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined."  Yet as the American church, we turn our backs on these women and say, "You're on your own; but don't worry, we'll take care of your children."**

"Birth families are not prioritized, adopters are.  The system is geared to make us happy; to keep us coming.  There is this silent belief that kids are better off with us, period.  We say, 'God chose this child for me.  She is mine.  She was always meant to be mine.'  No.  Our children were meant for their birth families, the way every child ever born is.  God did not intend these children for my wealthy home and accidentally put them in Ethiopian wombs.  Does God not weep for birth mothers who were tricked?  Who were coerced?  Who were so vulnerable?  Were their children gifts for us and not them?  This perspective insidiously tricks us into overvaluing our 'rights' and devaluing first families or reunification efforts." (Jen Hatmaker)

"When...World Vision tried to shift its child sponsorship program to a family sponsorship model...their donations dropped by half." (Kathryn Joyce)  Friends, this should not be!  Yes, God loves the orphan.  But wouldn't His ultimate goal for orphans be to stay in their families?  Shouldn't that be our goal as well?  Shouldn't adoption be the very last of all last resorts?***

We can start by shifting our mindset:  We are not called to be the rescuers of the world's children.  Adoption is not the only answer, or even the primary answer, to the orphan crisis.  Ultimately, the Church needs to re-shift its focus to The Family.

How can we do that?

If you want adopt internationally, do it only from countries which have a strong, established, regulated adoption program.  In most cases, this will only be countries who have signed to the Hague Convention, and I will write more about this in Part 6.  For those countries who do not yet have the infrastructure for international adoption, then be a cheerleader and supporter for other ministries and programs that keep kids in families or promote domestic adoption.   

Unfortunately, adoption advocates in the U.S. have a reputation of condemning countries who try to tighten up on their adoption regulations.  That should not be us.  For example, just last week, I received news that Uganda has just passed a new adoption law.  It will close the "guardianship" loophole (see Part 2 of this series), promote domestic adoption, and significantly decrease the number of international adoptions.  As an American adoption community, how should we respond?  With anger at the Ugandan government, accusing them of a lack of compassion for their children?  Or with gratefulness that the government is working hard to prevent corruption and child-trafficking?   Of course, my heart hurts for those adoptive families who are now stuck in the middle of the adoption process in Uganda.  But ultimately, we should be celebrating, not mourning, Uganda's efforts--and any other country who does the same!  This is great news!  

In addition, there are lots of ways you can participate in, support, or even start ministries that are working at orphan prevention and family reunification.
  • Support poor families as you shop!  There are so many great causes you can support this way.  Each time you buy from one of these sites, you help vulnerable women and families stay together and raise their standard of living.   Here are a few great ones:
"If poverty is the primary reason why a child is relinquished for adoption, then the child does not need a new family.  Instead, the child's family needs to be empowered to have a path out of poverty."  (DF)''

In our fervor to fight for the orphan, let us not forget the widow.  Let's look to fulfill all of James 1:27.


**I am not insinuating that an adoptive family should be responsible for the well-being of the birth mother of a genuinely relinquished child, as that is usually not a healthy situation for the family or the child. I'm just asking for a change in mindset in the American church to broaden our focus beyond just children.

***I need to add an important note here.  There are times, in any country--just as in the U.S.--when a man, woman, or family chooses to relinquish a child for adoption for reasons other than poverty.  Though most of the children in Tanzania who are adopted domestically were abandoned, I have friends here who have adopted relinquished children with known mothers.  I know their back stories, and I completely support the decision for these children to be adopted, just as I support the decision for birth mothers in America to voluntarily relinquish a child for adoption.  However, in each case I know about, the adoptive family was a resident of Tanzania.  They knew the culture, and in most cases, had a relationship with the family who was giving up their child.  In short, it worked because these were domestic adoptions.  Unless a country has strong adoption infrastructure,  a U.S. adoption agency is usually not able to make the distinction between a "poverty orphan" and a genuinely relinquished child, especially because money will always be involved.  This is why I am advocating for family-based ministry and domestic adoption in developing countries as an alternative to international adoption.

Continue reading:
Part 5:  God Told Me To...Or Maybe He Didn't
Part 6:  What About the Children Who Really Do Need Adoption?
Part 7:  Is There Hope In This Mess We've Made?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Dark Side of International Adoption, Part 3: The Horror That is Called Child Harvesting

Start here:  

"[Child harvesting] is an unsettling term for adoption agencies' common practice of recruiting children for intercountry adoption from intact families, often in rural areas and sometimes by exploiting parents' lack of familiarity with adoption." (The Child Catchers by Kathryn Joyce, abbreviated later as CC)

The more I read, the more I could see how it happens:

It starts with a genuine need:  A war, an earthquake, or an AIDS epidemic decimates a country.  Thousands, millions of children are left vulnerable.  It's highly publicized, and images of sad, pathetic children are blasted through the media.

An adoption agency representative from America approaches an orphanage, a lawyer, or a government official from this country and asks about starting an adoption program.  Their eyes light up--this will be a great way for the country to deal with its orphan crisis, and a way for themselves to earn a little money on the side.  It's a win-win.

Yet the country has very little infrastructure.  It is trying to recover from a catastrophe and everything is in chaos.  Many government institutions no longer exist.  The court system is barely hanging on.  Internet, electricity, and water supply are sparse.  Everyone is just trying to scratch out a living.

But the adoption program starts, and children start being matched with families.  At the beginning, everything is great.  There are plenty of truly orphaned children available.  The lack of infrastructure assures that the process is quick and relatively easy.

"When a country emerges that can supply numerous healthy, young children through a relatively quick and uncomplicated process, an influx of adoption agencies is usually close behind." (CC)

Word spreads among families in America wanting to adopt, and within a matter of months, hundreds of families have applied.  Dozens of agencies jump on the bandwagon.  After all, adoption agencies are businesses--sometimes even for profit--and in order to keep their business going, they need a ready supply of children.  Usually, they don't actually set up shop in the country--they just find a "facilitator" on the ground who helps them process the children.

Local lawyers, orphanage workers, and government officials suddenly find themselves with a regular, dependable, lucrative income in a country that is falling apart at the seams.  The problem is that after just the first few months, the supply of genuinely orphaned children has mostly dried up, especially for healthy babies and toddlers, which is what Americans usually request.

And here we see the problem:  The government is barely hanging on.  The country has never established international adoption laws, let alone a centralized system for adoption.  The process is haphazard.  Agencies are not licensed to work in the country--they just are working privately with their facilitator or orphanage director.  There is no centralized authority to control the process.

But now everyone is making money.  So what happens?  The agencies hire people to "find" children.  Or rather harvest them.  Sometimes they find true orphans.  But the evidence shows that many times, that means coercing pregnant mothers, lying to families about an "education sponsorship program in America" or even kidnapping--but they are determined to find children to meet the demand.  The agency doesn't ask questions.  The lawyer or facilitator forges the paperwork.  The children's identities are erased.  And there's no government infrastructure to stop it.  Eventually--usually after just a few years--the whole system collapses under corruption and the entire program is shut down, usually leaving hundreds of waiting adoptive families devastated.

Meanwhile, the agencies--needing their "supply"--move on to the next country.

It's a worst-case scenario, but unfortunately it has played out over and over and over again in countries all over the world.  And the worst part?  The children suffer, the birth families suffer, and the adoptive families suffer.  Who gets off scot-free?  The adoption agencies.

Here's a perfect example:

Less than twenty years ago, a massive baby-buying operation went on in Cambodia.  Hundreds of babies were purchased from their parents for as little as $20, and the adoptions were facilitated by an American woman named Lauryn Galindo.  The children's identities and names were reinvented on all legal documents.

"From January 1997 to December 2001, Galindo and her conspirators helped American families adopt more than 800 children from Cambodia.  Galindo [and her partner] received 9.2 million dollars from adoptive parents and used the profits to fund lavish lifestyles."  (In Defense of the Fatherless)

Yet when the U.S. authorities finally caught up with her, "Galindo wasn't charged with child-trafficking because the United States doesn't have a child-trafficking law.  While there are laws against trafficking for the purpose of sexual or labor exploitation, they don't apply to adoption."  (Source here.)  Galindo was sentenced to 18 months in prison for visa fraud.

For the crime of trafficking over 800 children, she got 18 months in prison.  Total.

How is that possible?  Because U.S. laws do not include any provisions for children trafficked through adoption.  Talk about a loophole.  Usually, the worst that can happen is that an agency will get shut down.  The hard truth is that U.S. adoption agencies have very little accountability for their actions.

"As a State Department staffer speaking off the record to an adoption reform group remarked, the government's hands are largely tied when it comes to preventing corrupt adoptions."  (CC)

"Adoption agencies have no legal obligation to document how so-called 'in country expenses' or 'humanitarian fees' are spent.....Immigration law does not include any legal requirements or responsibilities for adoption agencies.....If there is corruption in countries that have not enacted the Hague Convention, local US Embassies have very little power to respond." (In Defense of the Fatherless)

Let me be clear:  This does not happen in every country.  This scenario generally does not happen in countries with a strong infrastructure and strong central adoption authority.  However, adoption agencies should have no business setting up adoption programs by skirting around a country's laws, or trying to get children adopted from a country which has no laws and no infrastructure.  The level of irresponsibility of many adoption agencies is positively breathtaking.   Yet unfortunately, as far as I can tell, these practices are the norm.   Every year, American families fork over tens of thousands of dollars to these (often "Christian") agencies and trust them wholeheartedly to do the right thing.  Something needs to change.

Continue reading:
Part 4:  Pure Religion is to Look After Orphans (and Widows?)
Part 5:  God Told Me To....Or Maybe He Didn't
Part 6:  What About the Children Who Really Do Need Adoption?
Part 7:  Is There Hope in This Mess We've Made?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Dark Side of International Adoption, Part 2: Where Did We Go Wrong?

Read this first:  Part 1:  The Evidence

I just couldn't understand it.  Tanzania's law is crystal clear:  You must be a resident for at least 3 years if you want to adopt a child.  I had worked directly with the social welfare department for ten years and they were never willing to compromise on the residency requirement.  So how could these U.S. agencies get away with opening an international program in this country, with families whisking in on tourist visas to pick up a child?

It was Uganda that made it click for me.  One day, I was searching the internet about international adoption, following links, and I found this about Uganda:

"The law governing adoptions in Uganda is...clear about the requirements for international adoption.

Section 46 (1)  A person who is not a citizen of Uganda may in exceptional circumstances adopt a Ugandan child, if he or she

(a) has stayed in Uganda for at least three years;
(b) has fostered the child for at least thirty-six months under the supervision of a probation and social welfare officer."

Hmmm, I thought.  Sounds similar to Tanzania's law.  In fact, it's even tougher than Tanzania's law, because Tanzania only requires a six-month foster care period.  So how are hundreds of American families adopting from Uganda?

I read on.

"Certain courts in Uganda can issue a 'Legal Guardianship Order,' which transfers parental rights of a child from one adult to another.  This was designed to cater for circumstances such as if a child's parents can no longer provide for the child or if the child is at risk of abuse.  It is an instrument of law to protect a child at risk.  It was not designed to enable international adoption.

In 2013, 97% of adoptions from Uganda to the USA used this Loophole, ignoring the Ugandan Adoption Law."

All of a sudden, it made sense to me.

The reason my concerns about Tanzania were being ignored is because American adoption agencies have been pulling these kind of shenanigans all over the world and getting away with it.  What they are trying to do in Tanzania is not an exception, it is the rule.  For many U.S. agencies, skirting around a country's adoption laws has become common practice.

Why is that a big deal, you might ask, if it means children's lives are being saved?

It's a big deal because it's encouraging corruption--and corruption always stifles economic growth and justice, especially for the poor.

And it's a big deal because corruption in an adoption system inevitably leads to children being stolen or coerced from poor families.

So how did we get here?  Where did we go wrong?

Misunderstood Statistics

You've all probably seen the statistics:  150 million orphans worldwide.  Some even say 200 million orphans.



That's a lot of children.  And it makes sense why compassionate Americans would recoil in horror at those statistics; why tens of thousands of people jump on the adoption bandwagon to save these children's lives.  We imagine millions of babies and small children, languishing alone in orphanages, waiting for a Mommy to save them.

Except.....most of them already have a Mommy.

What?  But we thought they were orphans.

This is where definitions matter.  UNICEF defines an orphan as an child who has lost at least one parent.  150 million children have lost one parent.  The number of children who have lost both parents?  18 million.  Still a significant number, but far lower than 150 million.

The number of children living in orphanages worldwide?  Even smaller:  8 million.  And 4 out of 5 of those children have living, known parents.

This is what it means:  There are millions of vulnerable children in the world.  No question about that.  Many have lost a mother in childbirth or a father to war.  Their parents need help.  They need job training and opportunities.  They need addiction counseling.  They need the gospel.  But they don't need their children to be adopted.

"The truth is the majority of the world's orphans do not live in orphanages or on the streets--and only a tiny fraction of the world's orphans need international adoption."  (In Defense of the Fatherless, abbreviated throughout as DF)

YES--there are children in the world who need adoption.  As you will see in future posts this week, I am still an advocate for international adoption, because there still is a time and a place for it, and a way to do it right.  But what must change is the mindset that there are millions of children out there who need us to rescue them through adoption.  In reality, the number of children who need adoption is much smaller.  I will be discussing those implications in other posts.

The First Wrong Attitude:  The End Justifies the Means

I think sometimes we imagine 150 million children on a train heading for a cliff.  It's up to us to save their lives....and that can only happen through adoption.  Adoption has been often been painted as the answer--and the only answer-- to the orphan crisis.

"When Christians believe adoption is the answer to the global orphan crisis, some are willing to adopt at any cost.  Some believe so passionately in adoption that they are willing to justify all sorts of injustice--including coercing poor families, bribing government officials, trafficking children, or closing their eyes to corruption--in order to get a child home."  (DF)

And this is where the misunderstood statistics lead agencies and families to the wrong conclusions.  If adoption is literally the only hope for 150 million children, then we should be willing to beg, bribe, and steal our way into saving their lives.  But if adoption is the only hope for just some of those children--and there's other solutions for the vast majority of them--then we need to reconsider the means we are using to get to that end.

Another Wrong Attitude:  Ethnocentrism

"A child who has parents doesn't need new, wealthier parents."  (DF)

I'm looking deep inside myself here too, my friends.  International adoption is not always the result of ethnocentrism.  In fact, I think that international adoption, in many ways, can help us to fight our own ethnic prejudices in ourselves, our churches, and our communities.  It is a good and wonderful thing when racial walls are broken down through the love of a family.


We must examine our hearts.  I look at the evidence.  I look at what is happening in Tanzania.  I look at what has happened, and is happening, in many countries around the world.  I see American agencies breaking the laws of other countries in order to make adoptions happen.  I see American agencies facilitating corruption in adoption by paying bribes.  I see them taking dangerous advantage of the lack of infrastructure.  In many cases, I do not believe that these agencies--or the families who trust them--are evil.  But I do think that many have an inherent belief that even if a child is snatched away from his parents, even if a mother was coerced into giving up her child--that the child is better off with an American family.  Why leave a child with a desperately poor mother in Africa when he can be given an education, Disneyland, and karate lessons in America?

This is ethnocentrism.  This is the belief that we as Americans know what's best for the world's children.  We justify breaking their laws because we believe we can take care of their children better than they can.

It's ugly; it's unbiblical; and it's got to stop.


I need to make it clear that I am not casting judgment on any parent who has adopted a child internationally.  Though our kids were adopted domestically in Tanzania, we were on the path to adopt a child from Ethiopia before our agency lost its license there.  We also had strongly considered adopting from Uganda or Congo, and we would have done it, had the way opened for us.  I never dreamed this kind of corruption was taking place, as I'm sure is the case for most adoptive parents.  Of course, many international adoptions are entirely ethical.  And if they were not, then I believe in God's sovereignty and I trust in His redemption in making something beautiful out of something broken.  But as an adoption community, once we know more, we cannot ignore it.  We can't let it continue. 

That said, I do believe that adoption corruption did not happen by accident.  Though I believe that (most of the time) adoptive parents are in the dark about these things, there are other parties who are not.  And that's the focus of my next post:  U.S. adoption agencies' role in international adoption corruption.

Continue reading:
Part 3:  The Horror That is Called Child Harvesting
Part 4:  Pure Religion is to Look After Orphans (and Widows?)
Part 5:  God Told Me To....Or Maybe He Didn't
Part 6:  What About the Children Who Really Do Need Adoption?
Part 7:  Is There Hope in This Mess We've Made?

Monday, March 7, 2016

I Wish It Wasn't True: The Dark Side of International Adoption, Part 1

I never wanted to write about this.

I love adoption.  I love its redemption, how it takes something broken and turns it into something beautiful.  I love how it mirrors God's pursuit of us.  Since the day we brought home our precious Grace ten years ago, I have been an adoption advocate.

I never wanted to write about the dark side of international adoption.  A year ago, I would never have believed that I would ever be doing a series like this.

Oh, I've heard inklings of corruption in international adoption during the last few years, but I always dismissed them as isolated instances.  In fact, if you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I often wrote against those who were sounding the alarms.

For a long time, I refused to believe it.   But facts have always been extremely important to me.  When I was finally willing to really pay attention, my defenses came down under the mountain of evidence.  I simply could not ignore it.  Corruption in international adoption, especially in developing countries, is not rare.  That corruption leads to children being unnecessarily, commonly, separated from their families.  And that is a fact.

I'm going to be publishing seven posts in this series over the next two weeks.  A lot of what you read will turn your stomach.  You won't want to believe it.  I didn't either.  I'm only going to post a small fraction of what I've discovered.  It wasn't very hard to find, but most of the time, Christians have been willingly ignoring it.  I believe it is absolutely crucial that the American adoption community, and especially those in the Christian community, come to grips with what is really going on.

I hope you'll share these posts with international adoption advocates or those who are considering adoption.  I hope you'll read through to the end, with an open mind.  I hope you will ask questions and engage me on this.

There's some pretty nasty stuff in this broken world.  But thankfully, there is always hope.  Don't worry; I'll get to that part too.

Part 1:  The Evidence

Ukraine:  "In past years, the pressure to find children for lucrative foreign adoptions has led to scandals, including a baby-selling scheme in which Ukrainian mothers' children were stolen after birth and offered for adoption as orphans."  (The Child Catchers, by Kathryn Joyce, abbreviated throughout as CC)

Cambodia:  "After adoptions were suspended, the number of infants in orphanages plummeted almost immediately:  an indication to adoption reformers that the international adoption system and the revenue it generated was the only reason many babies had been placed in institutions."  (CC)

Guatemala:  "From 1997 to 2007,  Americans adopted more than 30,000 children from Guatemala, which is widely considered to have had the most pervasive corruption in international adoption.  Large numbers of healthy infants were bought, coerced, or kidnapped away from their parents in order to be adopted overseas." (In Defense of the Fatherless by Amanda Bennett and Sara Brinton, abbreviated throughout as DF)

More here on Guatemala.

"Some agencies accused of deeply unethical behavior in Guatemala are widely thought to have moved their operations to Ethiopia."  (CC)

Ethiopia:  "A number of adoption agencies began requiring adoptive parents to sign waivers acknowledging that the information they received about their children might be inaccurate." (CC)

"As country director, Tigabu claims, he witnessed children's records changed so that they were adopted under false last names, thereby destroying their ability to track their heritage later.  Further, he said female employees of the agency were heavily pressured to give their own children up for adoption--children who were later declared 'abandoned.'" (CC)

"90 percent of adoption cases [in Ethiopia] that went through the embassy required further investigation or clarification, often regarding misrepresentations or concealment of facts intended to expedite approval."  (CC)

"Media reports in recent years alleging direct recruitment of children from birth parents by adoption service providers or their employees remain a serious concern for the Department of State."  (DOS web page on Ethiopia)

One family's story here and more information here.

Uganda:  Since [international adoption] set its sights on the the country in 2009, the number of orphanages has increased five-fold.  Approximately 95% of the 800+ orphanages now operating in Uganda are foreign-funded, yet only about 30 of them are licensed.  It is furthermore estimated that 85% of the children in Uganda's childcare institutions have living and locatable relatives.  (source here)

One family's story here.

Nepal:  "The government of Nepal charged an official fee of $300 for international adoption.  Adoption agencies instructed American parents to bring large amounts of cash into the country, though this was against Nepalese law." (DF)

Vietnam:  "By 2008 when the United States shut down American adoptions from Vietnam, the State Department had discovered systematic corruption that resulted in the trafficking of children.  A network of adoption agency representatives, orphanages, police officers....were profiting through baby buying, coercing...and even stealing Vietnamese children to sell them to unsuspecting Americans."  (DF)

Democratic Republic of Congo:  "[There are] reports of child trafficking, orphanage raids, and illegal border crossings...You have learned of falsification of documents....siblings split apart....false abandonment reports, coercion of birth parents to relinquish children, and high foster care fees without documented expenses (average of $500/month/child)...All of this information is publicly available, and all of it paints a very clear picture of endemic corruption and fraud in the international adoption business in DRC."  (Holly Mulford, Reeds of Hope)

Liberia:  "The adoption fees represented a potential windfall....the number of orphanages jumped from around 10 before the war to between 114 and 120 after, and they began to find children to match adoptive parents' desired gender and ages.  In 2006 Liberia, which then had only three million people, became the eighth-highest adoption-sending country in the world....The postwar government, functioning without electricity and internet, let alone sufficient numbers of trained staff, was unable to monitor children leaving the country." (DF)

"All of these [countries, such as those listed above] had privately controlled adoption systems where adoption agencies and their representatives were involved in finding children for adoption and matching them with adoptive parents.  Families believed there was an overwhelming need for international adoption from these countries.  All of these countries were also known for quick, easy adoptions of healthy babies and toddlers.  In all of these countries, the numbers of children placed for adoption increased rapidly in response to the demand from adoptive parents."  (DF)


I have been naive.

I thought that by adopting four children from Tanzania, that I understood international adoption.

I did not.

We are not Tanzanian, but since we live in Tanzania, our adoptions are not considered international.  Our adoptions are domestic.  We never worked with an agency.  We worked directly with the government, and only at the very end did we hire a lawyer to finalize everything--similar to adopting out of foster care in the U.S.  Our only costs were for one U.S. report, and minimal lawyer fees.

The process, though long and frustrating, was free of anything dark or underhanded.  Instead, who I saw as dark and underhanded was UNICEF.  In 2009, UNICEF advised Tanzania in the writing of new adoption laws.  They took stringent requirements and made them more stringent.  Instead of just needing to be a resident of any length of time to adopt, now you need to be a resident for at least three years.

UNICEF became my enemy.  Had they seen all the children in orphanages in Tanzania?  How could they lack compassion?  How could they sit their in their ivory towers and prevent these children from finding homes?  I prayed for Tanzania to open an international adoption program.

Then, last June, my perspective changed almost overnight.  I discovered that American adoption agencies were attempting international adoptions in Tanzania.  I was appalled.  The law had not changed.  So how was this possible?  As much as I wanted international adoptions to happen in Tanzania, I certainly didn't want them to happen illegally.

I wrote to the agencies, the embassies, the families, and anyone else I could think of, protesting these adoptions.  No one would listen, and no one even tried to offer me a defense.  No one seemed to care.  Why?  How could this even be happening?

Thus began my journey to find answers.  What I discovered was worse than I ever could have imagined.

"At the heart of this issue, we believe Christians are afraid to look at the truth.  We do not want to talk about corruption in adoption and orphan care because we fear what will happen to the orphans who are left behind....In the face of this fear, Christians are looking the other way or hoping that corruption is rare."  (DF)

The corruption is not rare.  And we can no longer look the other way.

Continue reading:
Part 2:  Where Did We Go Wrong?
Part 3:  The Horror That is Called Child Harvesting
Part 4:  Pure Religion is to Look After Orphans (and Widows?)
Part 5:  God Told Me To....Or Maybe He Didn't
Part 6:  What About the Children Who Really Do Need Adoption?
Part 7:  Is There Hope in This Mess We've Made?