‘Girl, Adopted’ is a must-see

But if you’re strapped for time, there is a detailed review of this documentary at GazillionVoices.com.

One small thing, that I think may be a big thing, is buried deep in Dr. Kimberly McKee’s essay: This notion that the titular girl’s adoption from an orphanage in Ethiopia was preceded by a bunch of stories about how great adoption is going to be. Stories told in the orphanage, to lead children to accept adoptive families as their only hope.

Bluntly, I haven’t visited a developing nation that sends children to the US for adoption (Guatemala, Haiti, Cambodia, Viet Nam) in which that story isn’t broadly integrated into the culture. It’s not necessarily true that adoption is a great solution to save orphans and take them to America, the land of the free–but if enough people know something, it doesn’t matter whether it’s true.

This matters because the assertion that orphanages and foreign adoption agencies are pushing this narrative on children takes all the agency from their home cultures–from which immigration to the US is a daily occurrence, and often considered a lucky break.

There are complex ethical problems in planning for the futures of children in orphanages around the world. Some of them are even problems that weren’t created by the pull factors of the international adoption business. Denying that doesn’t fix it, but does strip adoption from its context as a form of immigration.

It’s complicated, and the film shows that wonderfully.

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