Monday, July 23, 2007

Chinese girl returned to her birthparents. Did they do the right thing?

Parents in Tennessee were ordered to reliquish custody of their Chinese-born daughter to her birth parents.

Just reading those words can send shivers down the spines of even the most secure adoptive parent. But when you know the rest of the story-that the child had been in foster care in US because her birthparents lost their income and medical insurance and did not understand that they were potentially giving up their custodial rights. They just thought they could leave her in foster care until they got back on their feet.

Seven year later, the young girl-who has lived with the Tennessee couple-will be returned to her birthparents by the end of July. The judge ruled that the birthparents did not understand the consequences of their actions and in fact, had been fighting for her since they put her into foster care.

Some people are outraged-how can rip away all that the girl has come to know? How can the seperate her from the 'parents' who raised her for the last seven years? Many wonder what the long-term consequences of the decision on the child.

At the end of the day, this girl belongs with her parents-in this case the ones who brought her into this world. In fact, all children are better off if they are raised by their birthparents and in their birth-culture if it is possible.

Now, this doesn't mean adoption is wrong and that all children of adoption should be returned to their birthparents. Far from it. What it means is that we better make darn good and sure that the children who are available for adoption, are, in fact, available for adoption. No glitches in the system should be acceptable.

The heartache and heartbreak that everyone in the Tennessee situation went through is enormous and has to be eliminated-not just in this case but for all adoptions.

It is stories like this-that make national headlines-that reinforce the negative stereotypes about adoption. In this case, it also reinforces stereotypes and myths about Chinese people and their acceptance in this country.

Adoption, like racism, sexism, ageism etc is just another divide-another way for people to seperate themselves from others-and not in a positive way.

We have to stop all the 'isms'. We have to get our kids on a level playing field-no matter what they look like, where they come from or how they joined their families.

Let's do the right thing...starting right now.

With respect and celebration,

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