In an aggressive piece the director of the Center for Adoption Policy in New York, Dr. Diane B. Kunz, Esq. reacts on the dwindling numbers of children who are adopted from abroad in the United States. The numbers went down from 17,000 in 2008 to 7,000 last year. The article, published on the Center’s website (http://www.adoptionpolicy.org/...), blames the Department of State (DOS) and UNICEF and their attitude towards international adoption for the decline. Dr. Diane B. Kunz, Esq. writes: ‘When speaking at international forums such as the Fifth International Policy Conference on the African Child: Intercountry Adoption: Alternatives and Controversies (May 29-30, 2012; http://www.africanchildforum.org/...), DOS and UNICEF speak with one voice, defining international adoption as cultural genocide, a sign of national failure or as a cover for fraud.’
Who doesn’t like a fiery pen, which scribbles angrily hyperbolic allegations? I do, for sure, but ‘cultural genocide’? That is even for me a bit too wild. I asked UNICEF about this and they emailed me, that ‘this is a gross misrepresentation of UNICEF’s position on inter-country adoption’ and referred me to their position paper on the subject. UNICEF, being an international organization, formulates pretty lame and bureaucratic: ‘UNICEF supports inter-country adoption, when pursued in conformity with the standards and principles of the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoptions – already ratified by more than 80 countries.’ Not the language of anti-adoption Nazi’s I would say. It says further: ‘Inter-country adoption is among the range of stable care options. For individual children who cannot be cared for in a family setting in their country of origin, inter-country adoption may be the best permanent solution.’ It is not poetry, I agree, but I imagine that the Department of State whether they like it or not, has to take this same international perspective. The US is – most of the time – part of a community of countries, who try to work together and try to find solutions for problems in concert with others.
I checked that African conference where according Dr. Diane B. Kunz, Esq. UNICEF and DOS misbehaved. Well, most of the speakers were from African countries and only two sessions gave word to members of adoptee receiving, western countries. In one of them I found an American official, Ambassador Susan Jacobs, Special Advisor for Children’s Issues of the US Department of State. Would she have spoken about the ‘cultural genocide’ that international adoption would be? I didn’t ask, so to not embarrass myself.
I didn’t see a UNICEF speaker. If UNICEF was involved it was maybe to wreak havoc in the hallways in between the sessions and to pick up the check at the end of three days in May 2012 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The results of the conference can be read in a report online. It is obvious that the African countries were and are collaborating to find a collective answer to the very western and very invasive solution to the problems of parentless children (or orphans) in their countries, which is international adoption.
To suggest that the US or UNICEF instigated the following paragraphs would be rather patronizing:
'The term "adoption" does not feature in African languages and in many African countries adoption is a concept that most people are not familiar with, which signifies the fact that intercountry adoption is a "foreign practice".’
‘Awareness should be raised throughout the continent as to what adoption entails and that intercountry adoption should be a measure of last resort.’
The final result of the conference is formulated in a document and it is clear that Africa, other than Dr. Diane B. Kunz, Esq. wants us to believe, is just not in favor of international adoption: ‘The conference adopted the Addis Ababa Communiqué on Intercountry Adoption which calls for a reversal of the current trend of resorting to intercountry adoption as a primary solution for African children in need of alternative care. Instead, the communiqué calls for prime priority to be given to enabling all children in Africa to remain with their families and in their communities. The communiqué therefore calls upon African States, Civil Society organisations and Treaty Bodies to assume their responsibilities in ensuring the wellbeing of all children in Africa.’ I know, no poetry either.
Interestingly and surprisingly enough the document expresses Dr. Diane B. Kunz, Esq.’s position:
‘The US fully endorses intercountry adoption and does not regard it as a measure of last resort. despite the acknowledgement of the principle of subsidiarity, the main purpose of intercountry adoption is considered to be the upbringing of a child by a loving family, even when this entails the physical removal of a child from his or her family or country of origin.’ It sounds as if Dr. Diane B. Kunz, Esq. and not Ambassador Susan Jacobs was in Addis to express the American position!
All of the above wouldn’t be a big thing, if Dr. Diane B. Kunz, Esq. would have been just director of her Center for Adoption Policy in New York. She is however also one of the brains behind the Children in Families First Act (CHIFF), which I discussed in my earlier post (http://www.dailykos.com/...). Her fiery and as we know by now misleading essay (of which I only checked the first paragraph) was also published on the website of CHIFF, the so-called bipartisan international welfare and adoption initiative.
In her fervor to promote that legislation she blatantly disregarded the wishes of the ‘sending’ countries, blaming UNESCO and the Department of State for doing work that is in fact in sync with the wishes of those countries and the international community. There might be a case to be made in support of international adoption, but Dr. Diane B. Kunz, Esq. is with her Dr-Diane-B-Kunz-Esque rhetoric definitely not the right person to do so.