We are all accustomed to the happy photos of celebrities holding their adopted children who came, presumably, from countries where their parents gave them up voluntarily. It turns out, those photos might be anything but happy to some.
The question: is a child from a poor family ever better off with a family who can provide better for him or her?
That is the question a 2009 Mother Jones article addresses by showing the darker side of overseas adoption. Some of those parents are not actually releasing their children. Rather, they are being kidnapped.
Twelve years ago, Sivagama was holding and loving her toddler son Subash in the Indian province they lived in for the first few months of the baby's life. Now the boy is living in a Midwestern suburb, raised by presumably loving parents who refuse to believe the truth: somewhere out there, the son they love has a biological mother from whom he was stolen.
One day, Sivagama was outside with the boy. She set him down for minutes and the next thing she knew, he was taken away. Though she searched for him, he was long gone -- first taken to an orphanage where he was sold then eventually flown to the US where he was sold again, this time to a Midwestern family who thought they were merely paying "adoption fees."
The American "parents" in the article do not act in a sympathetic manner, though their plight certainly is. They did nothing wrong. As far as they were concerned, the adoption, which was seven years old when they were interviewed, was legal. They paid their money and took an orphan from India and made him their son.
His biological parents, who have been grieving since the boy was taken from them, have been told the boy is "better off" since the family he is currently living with have money, whereas Sivagama (no last names) and her husband have nothing. They live in a slum in India.
In a material sense, they are right. The boy probably is better off. He has parents who love him, clothing and plenty of food. Who knows what his life may have been like if he had stayed? The only problem, of course, is that it is not our decision. Someone made this decision for Sivagama and she never had any say. She misses her son every single day.
The Midwestern family did nothing wrong exactly. We all unwittingly support atrocities in other countries (and in our own). We buy clothing made in countries where there are no child labor laws. We buy inexpensive beef from places that don't treat their animals well. We buy toys that are made in unsafe conditions because they are less expensive.
Of course, this is far, far worse. This is a human. Actually, five humans -- the boy and both sets of parents -- not to mention the countless others who love him -- brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. So what should happen? The article references a family who discovered something similar and the American parents decided to open the adoption by visiting the family back in India frequently.
At this point, the question is, what is best for the child? In the article, the parents seem all too willing to sweep it under the rug. They need "more information" before they will believe it. I hope that they got with the program. They are victims, too, of course. But at this point, the only fair thing is to let "their son" know both sets of parents who love him. He is not "better off" kidnapped. No one is.
What do you think should happen?
Image via WordRidden/Flickr