Sunday, September 16, 2012

let's talk India.

India, as many know, has an adoption program that is difficult to sometimes manage.  Waits are long, bureaucratic red tape is enormous, and referrals take significant time.  There has been corruption in India adoption programs, as is true in many countries.  India recently changed the rules for submitted dossiers.  While it is party to the Hague convention, Hague doesn't provide the robust child protections that some feel it should.

But back up! you're saying as you read this.  You used the "C" word.

I did.  It's corruption.  And it sometimes happens. 

Because the process, while relatively stable in some respects, has had issues related to corruption and other concerns, adoption-haters (and that's what they are) would like to (not so) kindly point out that adoption should be outlawed in that country.  If you press hard enough and ask what should be done to assist the children of India, you'll hear some convoluted, pie-in-the-sky, utopian image of how money will solve the problems in India.  Half (yes you read that correctly) of the children in India suffer with malnourishment (Source:  Bloomberg Business Week, September 10, 2012). 

Well...since US dollars aren't terribly tasty, I'm sure the answer those folks would give you is that we ought to send them food and not "take" their children. 

Splendid idea!  Who's with me?  Let's reach out to the adoption agencies and all potential adoptive parents and immediately ask them to cease their adoption procedures and instead, we're going to invest in feeding these 900 MILLION Indian citizens who live on less than the government's recommended daily allowance of food.  I'll bet we could be so persuasive, nearly every potential adoptive parent would agree.


Wha...??? Am I reading this correctly?

"In India's most populous state, about $14.5 BILLION in food for the poor has vanished in the past ten years due to corruption."

I thought corruption only happened in the adoption process. Is Bloomberg Business Week really Adoptive Families Magazine in disguise or something?

"In Satnapur, the children playing in the street have prominent ribs.  The village has no electricity, and the ration shop has been closed for months, residents say. Only about half of the village households that qualify for subsidized rice, wheat, sugar, and kerosene receive any.  'This is the most mean-spirited, ruthlessly executed corruption...' says Naresh Saxena who [is a] commissioner to the nation's Supreme Court..."  (Bloomberg Business Week)

This is one example of many you will find with a simple google search.  You can read this article for yourself, and read the accounts of brazen government officials who perpetrated this fraud on their people while pocketing massive profits for years.  Only because of one conscious-filled whistleblower was it ever known.  And even he admits in the article, "I never for one moment felt scared that I would get caught."  Such enforcement!  When the government itself is in involved in this level of corruption at the expense of the poor, this fellow is right.  Who's going to catch you?

I know you are probably very confused right now. Maybe you have been reading the adoption hate speech on the internet and you don't get it.  You've seen for yourself that these folks don't bother to accurately portray some of the adoption process.  You've seen how they focus on a few bad stories and ignore the hundreds that fly in the face of their case.  And you've rarely seen a solution offered in those blogs, except to bash people who try to adopt for fundraising or giving a shit about orphans.

Maybe occasionally, you've seen someone who is actually concerned about adoption fraud and has some amount of care for orphaned children suggest that programs ought to be targeted in these children's countries of origin to "prevent" (or eliminate the need for) adoption.  You never hear a timeline or a real plan to make this happen, but some of these folks really try to at least suggest SOMETHING that will help children...Someday.  Certainly not now, of course. 

Great idea.  For the past DECADE (and probably longer) NGOs and charitable organizations and other countries have sent India food aid, and guess where it's gone?  To the pockets of politicians and corrupt individuals.  Do you think the scheme was oh-so-complicated?  No.  According to the article, it was quite simple.  Local officials would set up shell (dummy) companies and purchase the food from the government at the low, subsidized price.  They would then turn around and sell this highly discounted food to private companies for a hefty profit, pocket the profit, and do it all over again.  This occurred, at its height, in nearly 30 of the 71 districts in India. You want to talk about widespread corruption?  That meets the definition. This easily-perpetrated scam lined the pockets of several officials to the tune of $20 MILLION over an 18 month period.  Not sure what your paycheck looks like, but mine's slightly lower than that.  Apparently, food theft is incredibly lucrative.

So...while children walk the streets with their ribs protruding, fat corrupt bureaucrats sell off the discounted food so that Indian citizens who walk into their local Fair Price Shop with their ration card are told to buzz off. 

Something's wrong here.

What's the answer?

Well, a start to an answer is that hopefully, this practice is going to stop.  The whistleblower has provided enough evidence to someday convict all of those responsible.  We pray that new corrupt individuals do not step in so that the food, which is desperately needed, will reach those it is meant to help. 

But what about NOW?  What about TODAY?  What about ten years ago?  What was the answer then?

We did what those who hate adoption want.  We sent money.  We tried to support the Indian people...and it wasn't working.  It wasn't working because the system designed to support them was flawed, broken, and corrupt.  Just as you can't resurrect a car with a broken engine by replacing the brake pads, so too can you not try to effectuate change in child welfare in a country where the politicians are stealing their food for a profit.  It won't work well.  Period.  Families should be able to feed their children, but all the good ideas and high hopes won't work if that family arrives at the Fair Price Store only to be told there is nothing there for them to buy.

Their children starve.  Half of them are starving.  Many of them are dying. Go look up the infant mortality rate in India.  It's okay, I'll wait.


What's the point?

Get educated.  Understand the forces at work.  When you claim adoption isn't an answer, look to the mechanisms in place in the child's country of origin.  Are they working?  Invariably, they are not, which is why there are children available for adoption in the first place.  And even if one could argue that there is equal corruption in Indian adoption as there is through the abuses of their food program (and there isn't), one fact remains clear:  All starving children suffer.  There are no happy starving children, who skip along the country roads with their protruding knees, thrilled with their existence. "Hooray!  Hooray!  I didn't eat today!"

But there are adopted children who are happy, well fed, and generally content. We can wait on whistleblowers to stop corruption in a country that refuses to feed its own poor people, or we can work to effectuate change in that country while attempting to protect and improve the conditions for the children of India - and if that means adoption as part of a bigger plan to make a country like India self-sufficient, then (when executed as responsibly as possible) it is an important tool. 

"None of these agencies [in India] have the manpower, the will power, or even the political support needed to investigate a theft of this size, this nature, and this breadth."

Absorb that.  Understand it.  This is what happens in a child's country of origin.  This is the system they live in - the broken, flawed, incapable systems.  It is these systems that are not equipped to care for the kids.  Money and prayers and lots of good wishes and fist-flinging won't change that.  Perhaps in time, things will be changed.  Until then, children suffer under their native skies with empty bellies.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Kind comments are welcomed. Poorly researched, ill-informed, horrifically biased comments are exploded. :)