Saturday, January 05, 2008

Mommy, why didn't you help my birth family?

How will I answer this question, if my child asks me one day, "You knew my family in Ethiopia was starving, why didn’t you DO something to help them?”

I planned on waiting until after my Christmas posts to discuss connections among adoption agencies, birth families and adoptive families, but today someone sent me an email that made me realize it is an issue that can not remain at the back of my mind.

In an effort to not overwrite this post, I want to open a discussion in the comments about whether adoptive and birth families should have the right to know one another if both agree to it, and also discuss how adoption agencies can facilitate adoptive families choosing to help birth families if that is desired.

I know this is a muti-faceted issue and I look forward to conversing with you all about it.

As those who read my blog know, I spent 3 weeks in Ethiopia in October/November, and while there, researched birth families for some friends. Feel free to click on the Africa link to the right to peruse those posts.


sey03 said...

My agency was allowing sponsorship of siblings until recently. Those already sponsoring siblings may continue to do so, but new and returning families will not have the option. The agency has built a school and clinic and plans to identify more humanitarian aid projects in the regions where they place children.

Heidi Mehltretter said...

Any idea why they stopped the sponsorship? I'm sure there is a very fine line between helping a family who had to give up a child and encouraging a family to give up a child to receive help. I think schools are KEY, personally, but am not sure how to handle unemployment following school in a country that brings in thousands of Chinese laborers to build roads while 50% of school graduates languish out of work.

Thanks for your input!

sey03 said...

I suspect it has something to do with the fine line you mentioned and not wanting to give the appearance of wrongdoing.

Ironically some adoptive families don't think they want to maintain contact until they actually meet the birth family. Too bad that isn't being encouraged in some cases.

Heidi said...

We determined well before our daughter ever came home, that we wanted to stay in touch and help where we could. How can I tell my daughter that I refused to help those she loves in Ethiopia? How can I "force" her to abandon them to their circumstances just because she was adopted (something she had no choice in herself)?

These family members are a part of our daughter, therefore they are a part of us as well. They are now OUR family too.

Just my 2 cents.

sey03 said...

I agree and I can only imagine the long term implications of losing that connection.

Anonymous said...

I would say that studies show, and every adoption books says that closed adoptions are only harmful in the long run. Who we are as humans has SO much to do with where we come from. (As in saying it is all part of our stories of "ME").
In fact, very few domestic agencies even allow closed adoption!
As a mother, I cant imagine anything worse then never seeing my childs face again!
I wont go on..... :-)

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I'm late coming in here, but I definitely think it's in the best interest for the adoptive parents to have contact with the bio family. If we had that info for our son, we would definitely want to help them in any way we could. I know you have to be careful and maybe not just send them money outright, but there are ways you can help. Maybe with schooling or whatever. Any attempt for an agency to stop this is just fear of being found out that they are doing wrong or ignorance.


Daniel said...

I believe that the adopted parents should know as much information as possible about the child's birth family. When information is not allowed to be shared and access to the birth family is blocked, there seems to be a sense of deception whether perceived or actual. I want to share all I can about my son's family but I know next to nothing about them. I feel that can carry some negative impact later in life.

the ewings said...

We know nothing about our son's family as well. But even last night my husband and I talked about the day we will return to Ethiopia with him (around age 10-12)and allow him to decide if he wants to pursue his family or not. We will definitely go to his home town and experience his life and try to give back to the village if not to family members. I feel this is so important to give him his true sense of identity and fill in the gaps for him, but we will need to be sensative on how he may accept or not accept this side identity. He may see himself as something else (american with a little Ethiopian as aposed to Ethiopian-American)