You are in crisis. Your adoption hopes and dreams are shattering. You are tired. You are emotional. Who do you call?
I have a vivid memory from childhood. Well, I have lots of vivid memories. I had a really wonderful childhood. But today I have been thinking about a particular rule mom implemented on multiple occasions. If we had a problem, a need, or an idea we could speak to mom calmly about it. If we shouted, whined, or interrupted there was a 99.9% chance of the answer being no. At that point it did not matter what our ideas were, the inappropriate presentation got the veto. Because of our delivery, we definitely did not get the response we wanted. The situations turned into teaching opportunities, I suppose. We learned to be respectful and present our thoughts rationally.
However, when a person experiences an emergency like a house fire or a robbery and dials 911 it is somewhat reasonable to expect them to be yelling and panicked. 911 operators are trained (usually) to handle these escalated situations. Police and firefighters rush to the rescue and solve the immediate problem.
When adoption families experience some type of fraud or abuse in their adoption, the adoption agency is, theoretically, the entity equipped to help. If, for whatever reason, the families cannot turn to their adoption agency, they often contact the State Department. Really, they try to call State Department 911. “We are in crisis! You can do something! Help us!!” Unfortunately the State Department does not have an adoption emergency response unit. It might sound like a joke, but I am very serious.
The officials at the State Department are clear the guidelines they follow eliminate the possibility for fraud and child trafficking to occur in international adoption. So they do not have policies in place for when these terribly wrong things do happen. One official even said to me, “Ashley, these things are not supposed to happen. The Hague Convention means these things do not happen. We do not have ways to fix things that do not happen.” This official was so kind to me. Really, they are excellent at their jobs. But when adoption families contact them in the heat of emotion and expect them to “fix it” or “do something” there is simply nothing for them to do.
So what do we do?
We definitely DO contact the State Department. But we must do so in a rational and respectful way. Honestly, we need to do a great deal of their work for them. We should figure out which Hague regulations were broken. We should write out a detailed report about what we experienced. We should have reasonable expectations of what we actually want to see done by the State Department. There are some situations they cannot fix, but they still need to know about the problems. The State Department does have mechanisms in place to track patterns. By going to them rationally and respectfully and giving them our documented concerns, we enable them to track problems effectively. Then, eventually, they will be able to develop methods for dealing with the unfortunate reality of fraud and child trafficking in international adoption.
Because if your adoption is like mine, the Hague Convention is not enough.