Adoption Agency Accountability

Small victories in the fight against corruption in adoption

Adoption Agency Accountability

The fight against international adoption corruption and the fight for the rights of vulnerable families rages on, but we’ve had a few great victories in the last week.

Last week, the Department of Justice arrested four adoption agency representatives on charges of visa fraud. This is a huge signal to adoption agencies that they can’t ignore what happens on the ground (duh!).

Yesterday, One World Adoption Services, Inc. (OWAS) posted that they are closing their DRC adoption program. And we are celebrating this victory!!! So many things have led up to this – the DRC exit letter suspension, these charges of fraud against the agency in Ethiopia – but I can’t help but think some it has to do with the many, many families who have been speaking out against the unethical and fraudulent practices of OWAS in DRC. We must continue to speak out against corruption and speak for the victims in these circumstances.

It’s not an easy or fun thing to speak out against. I have had nasty things said to me. I have been banned from certain Facebook groups and called a liar. I have friends who have adopted and friends who are adopting, and I’m sure many people worry that by speaking out, adoptions are threatened, and as a result, kids are stuck in orphanages.

I can’t imagine anything worse than a child stuck in an institution. All the research shows that institutionalizing children is terrible for their brains, their development, their health. In terms of long-term development, it is much better for a child to live in poverty with a family, then to live in an institution. While institutions can serve a necessary function, it should always be temporary and should never, ever be an option if there are families who can fill that role.

But many families in the developing world have bought into the lie that it’s better for them to leave their children in an institution where they can get food, schooling and possibly a trip to America than for them to live with their families. I believe that if these families were empowered with the knowledge of how damaging it is for their children to be institutionalized, they would choose differently. Of course, the international adoption recruiters always leave that part of the story out.

This is why I must continue to speak out. Families have a right to raise their children. We should not be adopting the children of poor families. And adoption agencies who take advantage of such poverty must be brought to justice.

Amanda Bennett

AMANDA BENNETT is a lawyer wife, mother, and advocate for vulnerable families and children. She serves on the board of directors for Reeds of Hope, a non-profit serving vulnerable families and children in DRC. Amanda lives in Kigali, Rwanda with her husband, Bill, and son.

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