Forgotten Children: International Adoption and the Global Orphan Crisis

The Daily Beast and Urban Zen co-hosted an event called Forgotten Children: International Adoption and the Global Orphan Crisis in an effort to draw attention to the topic.  Experts from the field of orphan care and adoption spoke about the growing need to address the orphan crisis.  This article summarizes the event and includes video clips of the expert panel.

Dr. Jane Aronson who has been nicknamed ‘the orphan doctor’, spoke about the realities of adoption from a health perspective.  She raised the concern that prospective adoptive parents are often not honest with themselves about their abilities related to the needs of the child they are seeking to adopt.  Aronson, along with others, called for better post-adoption services.

Deborra-Lee Furness, co-host of the event, wife of actor Hugh Jackman, and adoptive mother, discussed her view that adoption should be the third best option, after placing a child with their biological family, then placing a child with another family in their home community.

Filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem who was adopted from South Korea when she was 8 years old spoke about the impact of international adoption in her own life.  Her unique adoption story s the focus of two POV documentaries that aired earlier this year on PBS.  Liem raised the point that adopted children grow up, and as an adult adoptee she shared, “I gained tremendously by coming to this country.  But on the other hand, I lost everything I loved by coming to this country”—her family, identity, language, and even memories. “One does not replace the other.”  While sharing this perspective, Liem urged that the best interest of a child it is critical for children to have families and secure homes.

Dr. Sophie Mengitsu, who operates in Ethiopia, offered her suggestion that agencies that help international adoption must also help the communities from which these orphans come.  She went on to highlight the negative impact on development that is caused by living in an institution.

Ultimately, several possible solutions to improve international adoption and the global orphan crisis were raised that range from supporting the struggling communities to examining the root causes to providing better training for orphanage workers.

It is imperative to invest in children around the world, and to not delay in making this investment.