why am I writing about this? because I defrauded myself

Let me say a bit more about that, because it’s kind of important. The story about how the Cambodia adoption bobsled jumped off the track has not been heard yet, in part because the independent adoption “community” can meet in a Honda Civic…although we can’t seem to agree on a parking place.

While the agency adoption community could meet in a high school gym, they’re still afraid to talk to each other, let alone outsiders. First the agency told them that they had agreed to a gag clause; then their own government told them that they might or might not ever get a visa for the child(ren) they had already adopted. Many feel that they can’t discuss what they did. Or they have a lot of reasons to be terribly afraid, beyond the human desire to avoid embarrassment (which I seem to have been born with a deficit of…is that a thing, ‘shame deficiency disorder’?)

There is a lot of money in adoption, and in international adoption there is a lot of money plus no required transparency–the agencies use contractors in the sending countries. This lowers the bar for what’s permitted in the sourcing of children for adoption, of course, to whatever is tacitly accepted practice in the worst human-rights abusing nations we have. No way THAT ends up with anything going sideways.

So the gag clauses were designed to prevent the adoptive parents from putting together a suit, from class actions, from any collective action that threatens the gravy train. No matter what the “orphanage director” or “facilitator” did in the sending country, the agencies had offloaded the legal liability and were keeping the cash.

There’s really no question that the adoptive parents who used reputable agencies to adopt from Cambodia were defrauded. They were told that their money was being used to support an orphanage, or family preservation or health care development work. My publisher says that “These outcomes were not documented by any agency working in Cambodia” is the lawyer-approved way to say ‘Ha!’ about that claim.

They were told that the children they were adopting were abandoned at orphanages, when the available evidence suggests that their parents were lured from far-flung provincial villages on the promise of future contact and reunion. Some of them were even cared for at orphanages by family members who donated their labor to the enterprise, paying the child’s way to his new life.

They were told that the facially unpersuasive paperwork ‘background and medical reports’ they received from the agency were ‘just how it’s done here’–and that’s true, but it’s aggravating, not exculpatory. It was deliberately and repetitively done in a fashion designed to separate adoptive parents from their money and birth parents from their kids, with neither side knowing what the other expected and no recourse.

We weren’t told any of those things by a licensed, bonded, reputable adoption agency. We didn’t pay the extra $10,000 to support their business model (chiefly because we didn’t have it, that year). And we didn’t sign a contract agreeing to keep quiet, forever, about what happened to our family after we used all the money and time and due diligence we had adopting a child.

So this is my story to tell because I can.