Holt Emails in My Inbox
I’m not sure how this started exactly, but for the past several years I have been receiving emails from Holt. Perhaps what is most angering is how they always seem to come following international crisis. I got one after the tsunami in Southeast Asia, the earthquakes in China, in Haiti etc. etc. They’re not necessarily saying “our adoption programs may be getting started as a result.” But it’s something I’ve become incredibly uncomfortable with.
It’s also in the language. When the earthquake struck Haiti I received an email from Holt saying how babies were “waiting to come home to their families.” Their families?!?! You mean the families that may have just died in the earthquakes? And yes I know that many of the children were adopted from Haiti had already lost their parents or had been “available” for adoption at the time.
The latest email I received was a fundraiser letter asking for donations. This is what it says: “YES, I WILL HELP CHILDREN FIND FAMILIES! My gift for Holt’s Special Needs Adoption Fund.” Which is followed by three buttons of financial donations. It just feels so surreal to hear an agency use a typical mail appeal approach to talk about the adoption of children. I know, there are fees that go into caring for a child before adoptions, medical records etc. But if you had received an email with this written in it, tell me you wouldn’t feel just a little bit uneasy about it.
There has to be a better way to talk about these things. Maybe as an adoptive parent it doesn’t feel so strange to you, but as an adoptee, one who reads these emails and KNOWS that these emails asking for money-we know it’s about us. There is something particularly unnerving about it.
I want to believe that Holt is sensitive to these issues. After all, when money is exchanged for a child, all precautions and sensitivities should be exercised. However, it still feels so disempowering when I visit the Holt website and there is a photolisting that you can look at to choose your child! LINK HERE
Are we that callous about adoptions? A good friend of mine who is a Sociologist, recently gave a presentation on her dissertation work that focuses on the “marketplace of adoption.” Her focus is on how adoption agencies essentially sell their adoption program to prospective adoptive families. I mean, after all, agencies must make themselves stand out if they want adoptive parents to choose their programs. How does this marketplace of adoption agencies affect their practices? How can they operate as a “business” (and I know most are non-profits, but let’s not deny that these fees help pay for administrative fees and salaries of the folks who facilitate the adoption process), yet also do what is right for children?
I know, this isn’t really anything new. Most people have been pondering this for a long time, I know I have. But the point is this. Adoption agencies have an obligation, an OBLIGATION to do what is right for these children and their families. Many transracial adoptees grow up with out the proper resources to address their identities as people of color in the U.S. and parents are not prepared by the agencies to address these issues either. There is a whole laundry list of other needs that seem to be trumped by the sheer fact that adoption agencies need to make their program look “easier.” Meaning, if a parent has the choice between an adoption program that has mandatory weekly classes on examining white privilege as it relates to their child, plus other strong recommendations prior to adoption, and a program with a few books to read and a few classes on “race,” it’s hard to imagine anyone choosing the first program. But it’s so important, and needs to be done. Perhaps this means that the Hague needs to be beefed up a little more, or that more countries need to sign off on it. Who knows, there are endless possibilities, but the point is that adoption agencies need to do more for these children and parents. Issues related to adoption don’t stop after a child is placed even if the child is an infant!