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Children May Be Trafficked Through Adoption…What Should I Do?

Hard Questions: In this new blog series, Show Hope staff members do their best to help shed light on some of the hardest questions we are asked here at Show Hope. We will strive to foster a healthy dialogue, but we acknowledge that we do not have all the answers! If you have a hard question you’d like us to tackle, please let us know in the comments below.

Hard Questions #3

Photo by Michael Mistretta

For our third installment of this series, we will address the question: “Children May Be Trafficked Through Adoption…What Should I Do?” Nick Lyndon, Director of Communications and Advancement, answers below:

Every now and then I have come across an article on potential corruption and human trafficking involving international adoption. Though this is not new and only covers a fraction of all adoptions, it greatly grieves our hearts to hear about terrible situations where children are used as pawns for financial gain. In fact, we are encouraged to see more people becoming aware of the fact that children are too often the victims of terrible wrongs and that perpetrators sometimes use good, legitimate avenues such as international adoption to exploit children.

It is not easy to know what to do with this information and how to best help the children who are caught in the middle. Here are three suggestions:

1. Expose corruption or fraud with a focus on protecting the children.

We are emphatically pro-adoption. However, we stand firmly against any abuse or exploitation of children. It can be hard to see adoption, something you love, misused, but we must not whitewash reality. We cannot close our eyes to these problems. We want to wisely step into orphan care and adoption in ways that protect orphaned and vulnerable children, provide them with the love and care they need, and ensure those who exploit or abuse children are stopped.

We applaud bringing light to any areas of corruption or unethical activities that are hurting children and families. Just because we love something doesn’t mean we can sweep its problems under the rug. We must face them. However, in the midst of any outrage, it is important to avoid reacting in ways that would ultimately harm children. Protecting a child’s best interest must be our first priority, rather than feeding into extreme rhetoric or pushing personal agendas.  Together, we must keep the focus on ways to protect children, meet their needs, and care for them well.

2. Don’t withdraw simply because the world is a dark place.

Adoption is a beautiful miracle – a reflection of God’s heart. However, this world is a broken place, and the world of adoption is not immune to such brokenness. It is tempting to cynically withdraw when we hear about corruption or injustice. Yet, the reality is if everyone withdrew from the dark places of the world, the children we seek to serve will be the ones most hurt.

Orphans need families. Rejecting international adoption completely due to corruption will not necessarily leave waiting children in a better place, and in many cases it can in fact leave them in a worse situation. It is impossible to fix everything or wait for conditions to be perfect before we act. Therefore, we discerningly and obediently follow God into the dark places of this world with our eyes open and hearts willing to do what we can to help.

3. Recognize the numerous ways to care for orphans, and plug in where you believe you best can!

Though international adoption is a solution to consider for children who are waiting for a family, it is not the only solution and may not be the best solution in a given situation. We must recognize that because international adoption involves significant sums of money, it can attract corrupt individuals seeking to exploit the system for their own financial gain. Legal and procedural safeguards must be in place in all countries involved for adoption to effectively work in a child’s best interest. At Show Hope, we use the P.R.A.Y. acronym to remind ourselves that adoption should be appropriately considered within a full spectrum of care: Preservation of families, Reunification of families, Adoption (both in country and internationally), and Youth services (such as foster care, institutions or community-based care).

We want to see wise, loving people engage at every level of orphan care and adoption.  Because we can only be one piece of the puzzle, the work of many others is needed. The family adopting a child internationally or domestically is just as vital as child welfare workers supporting healthy families, lawyers fighting to protect children from human traffickers, and communities working to support children in need right where they are. At Show Hope, we recognize that we are just a small part of a much bigger picture and a much greater need.

There may be some instances where it is better to discontinue international adoption because of corruption or abuse. Still, there are other situations where international adoption can be a healthy alternative to institutional care. In whatever way we can, we desire to help restore the hope of a family to orphans in distress. We are committed to praying for these children, equipping adoptive families to care for their children, reducing the financial barrier that separates children from their adoptive families, and engaging individuals and communities to do what they can to act now. We hope you will join us in this movement to care for orphans, because right now there are children waiting for someone like you to show hope.



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