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Unformatted text preview: EG1413 NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE EXAMINATION FOR THE DEGREE OF
BACHELOR OF ENGINEERING
EG1413 – CRITICAL THINKING AND WRITING (SEMESTER 2: 2008/2009)
Time Allowed: 2 Hours INSTRUCTIONS TO CANDIDATES 1. This examination paper contains ONE (1) question and comprises EIGHT (8) printed
pages. 2. Answer THE QUESTION in the ANSWER BOOKLET provided. 3. Hand in the ANSWER BOOKLET at the end of this examination. 4. This is a CLOSED BOOK examination. 2 EG1413 In approximately 750 words, write a critique of the article “International Adoption: Opening
Pandora’s Box”. Your critique should: Summarize the writer’s argument (in no more than one paragraph);
Evaluate the argument, i.e. assess its strengths and weaknesses;
Make reference to the secondary materials “Slamming the Door on Adoption” and
“Madonna cast an ugly glare on Africa’s orphan tragedy” where appropriate (avoiding
plagiarism and using the APA conventions for in-text and end-of-text citation);
Be accurately written and cohesive. International Adoption: Opening Pandora's Box
By Peter F. Dodds
I was born to a German mother and a German father in Germany, one of thousands of
German children adopted by Americans from the 1950s through the 1970s. My purpose in
this article is to provide insight to all participating in the international adoption process social workers, mental health professionals, parents, policy makers, lawyers – by shedding
light on the harm caused by uprooting children from their native cultures.
International adoption is not the answer to improving the overall plight of children in
developing countries. Even its strongest supporters admit the movement of adoptees across
international borders represents only a tiny fraction of the neglected, abused and abandoned
children in these countries. They are entirely silent on the children not adopted and left
If parents choosing foreign adoption have as their primary motive a desire to save children,
they need not look abroad. A concern associated with the delivery of domestic child welfare
services is that children available for adoption in the U.S. are being bypassed in favor of
foreign children. International adoption increases the pool of domestic children needing a
Unfortunately, international adoptions are seen by most Americans as a solution for families
needing children, rather than for children needing families. The purpose has shifted from the
humanitarian one of providing families for abandoned children and is increasingly becoming
a way for the childless to satisfy their desire to have children. The well-being of children has
taken second place to the desires of those seeking to adopt.
A disturbing picture
Most of what is written in the U.S. about this subject comes from the perspective of
American adults connected to the international adoption industry. It is hard to find literature
objectively discussing the consequences of removing children from their native lands.
However, when such information is pieced together a disturbing picture emerges: 3 EG1413 ABC television reported in April 1998 that an adoption agency in Baton Rouge,
Louisiana brings young, poor, pregnant Russian women to the United States on bogus
visas. The women stay long enough to have their babies and then return to Russia
with $1,000. Adoptive families in America pay around $40,000 for an adopted baby
through this method.
A New York Times article entitled "Specialists Report Rise in Adoptions That Fail”
discussed the disproportionate number of failed adoptions among American families
who have adopted children from abroad.
In June 1997, Richard and Karen Thorne of Phoenix, Arizona, were arrested at New
York's Kennedy Airport on arrival from Moscow. Passengers and crew reported
seeing the Thornes abuse the two 4-year-old Russian girls they had just adopted,
striking them in the chest, face, and head.
Mi Ok Song, adopted in 1966 from a Korean orphanage by American parents, writes:
"I believe international adoption is a covert but cruel act of child abuse. When the
adoptee becomes an adult he or she is legally, politically and socially prevented from
searching for his/her own birth mother or family, because records are sealed, changed,
or destroyed. This is a violation of basic human rights." Concerns of countries surrendering their children to foreigners
Damien Ngabonziza, of the International Social Services in Geneva, Switzerland, states that
African countries view inter-country adoption as a form of neocolonialism and do not, in
general, sanction overseas adoption of native children. There is also a view widespread in
potential ‘sending countries’ that international adoption takes the most desirable adoptees in
terms of age, health and racial heritage, and leaves hard to place children in their countries of
origin. Furthermore, inter-country adoption is seen as highly problematic since contact with
birth families and the country of origin may be obstructed.
What is the impact of international adoption on the adoptee?
Research in this area is fragmentary and many studies have been criticized on grounds such
as their short time frame; ‘western’ cultural bias; inadequate sampling methods; and
questionably low response rates. There is also a lack of clarity on how to define whether or
not an inter-country adoption has been “successful” or not.
All children adopted internationally face physical and emotional upheaval, beginning with the
trauma of departure, separation and loss. Initially, most children have little proficiency in
English and most adoptive parents are unable to converse with their children. It is hardly
surprising that many international adoptees resort to physical expression of their grief and
anger, including self-harm, aggressive behavior, and crying.
Later, the greatest obstacle to emotional well-being for the international adoptee is the
process of identity formation. For such children, the task of clarifying their own identity is an
on-going process. Cross-racially and cross-culturally adopted children quickly become aware
that they are different from their adoptive parents. Dr. Juliet Harper, Senior Lecturer in
Psychology at Macquarie University in Australia, has researched international adoption and 4 EG1413 its pitfalls. She found that children were inadequately prepared for adoption, having little idea
what was expected of them, or how to respond to parenting offered by the adoptive parents.
Most children quickly developed English language skills, but apparent fluency often masked
International adoption as a commercial enterprise
Brokering foreign children has become an increasingly lucrative enterprise, with international
adoption agencies charging $30,000 and more per transaction. Those involved in
international adoption deal in enormous sums of money while trafficking children. This
increasing commercialization, coupled with lack of adequate safeguards, results in criminal
abuses, abduction and sale of children. Demand for healthy infants in the U.S. adoption
market even results in pregnancies for profit, violence and intimidation of birth parents, and
corruption in child welfare services.
International policies in effect regarding international adoption
In 1992, growing concern about international adoptions led to a conference in Manila,
Philippines on "Protecting Children's Rights in Inter-Country Adoptions and Preventing the
Trafficking and Sale of Children." It recommended that if a child cannot be raised by her or
his parents, then care within the extended family - with support if necessary - should be the
next goal. If this is not possible, efforts should be made to secure domestic adoption. Only in
the last resort should international adoption be considered.
This is surely the way forward. For if children without parents are wrenched from the cultural
context in which they belong, untold misery and confusion inevitably result.
Adapted from “International Adoption: Opening Pandora’s Box”. Retrieved December 12, 2008, from
http://www.bastards.org/bq/dodds1.htm. 5 EG1413 Slamming the Door on Adoption
By Elizabeth Bartholet
Last month, Guatemala was effectively shut down as a country from which children can be
adopted into the United States. While the shutdown is officially temporary, it is likely that
even when new laws are in place, Guatemala will follow the path taken by many South
American countries in recent years: eliminating the private agencies and intermediaries that
facilitate the placement of children who need homes and substituting government monopoly
over adoption, which will reduce to a trickle the number of children escaping life in
institutions or on the streets.
In recent years, Guatemala has been a model for those who believe in adoption as a vehicle
for providing homeless children with permanent, nurturing parents. It has released significant
numbers of children to international adoption, many at young ages, before they suffered the
kind of damage that results in attachment disorders and other life-altering limitations.
Ironically, these policies are why Guatemala attracted the attention of UNICEF and other
human rights organizations that, along with our State Department, have been pushing for
adoption "reform." These official "friends of children" have created pressure that has led to
the cessation of international adoption in half the countries that in recent decades had been
sending the largest number of homeless children abroad. Until recent years, the number of
international adoptions into the United States had been steadily increasing, but the numbers
are dramatically down.
Why close down international adoption? The real-world alternatives for the children at issue
are life -- or death -- on the streets or in the types of institutions that a half-century of
research has proved systematically destroy children's ability to grow up capable of
functioning normally in society. By contrast, we know that adoption works incredibly well to
provide children with nurturing homes and that it works best for those placed early in life.
Critics of international adoption argue that children have heritage rights and "belong" in their
countries of birth. But children enjoy little in the way of heritage or other rights in
institutions. The critics argue that we should develop foster-care alternatives for children in
the countries they are from, and UNICEF's official position favors in-country foster care over
out-of-country adoption. But foster care does not exist as a real option in most countries that
allow children to be adopted abroad, and the generally dire economic circumstances in these
nations make it extremely unlikely that comprehensive foster care programs will soon be
developed. Nor is there any reason to think that children would do as well in foster care as in
adoptive homes. Indeed, for decades the research in countries that use foster care, such as the
United States, has shown that such care does not work nearly as well for children as adoption
Critics also condemn adoption abuses such as baby-buying. But there is no hard evidence that
payments are systematically used in any country to induce birth parents to surrender their
children. In any event, the right response to such abuses is stepped-up enforcement of the 6 EG1413 overlapping laws prohibiting such payments, which would rightly result in the lawbreakers
being penalized. Closing down international adoption, however, wrongly penalizes all those
homeless children who could otherwise find nurturing adoptive homes, condemning them to
institutions or to the streets.
Policies restricting international adoption replicate the same-race matching policies that used
to exist in the United States. In the mid-1990s, Congress passed the Multiethnic Placement
Act, rejecting the notion that children should be seen as belonging only within the racial
group into which they were born. Our lawmakers recognized the harm children suffered by
virtue of being held in foster care rather than being adopted trans-racially.
Congress, the State Department and the human rights organizations that purport to care for
children should similarly reject the notion that children in other countries must at all costs be
kept in their communities of birth. Children's most fundamental human rights include the
right to be nurtured in their formative years by permanent parents in real families.
Adapted from “Slamming the Door on Adoption”.
http://www.law.harvard.edu/news/2007/11/05_bartholet.php. Retrieved December 12, 2008, from Madonna Cast an Ugly Glare on Africa’s Orphan Tragedy
By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
The figures, or maybe misery is a better word, like so much else about black Africa are
almost beyond belief. More than 12 million children have lost one parent or are orphans. And
given the eye popping disease, most notably the HIV-AIDS pandemic, warfare, and poverty
that plague many African nations, the number of orphans or near orphans will soar to nearly
20 million by 2010. The worst part is that apart from a string of bulging, cramped,
desperately under-funded, and in many cases unsafe orphanages in Sub-Saharan Africa, many
of these children are doomed to live out their childhood years in a caretaker existence.
The even more galling thing is that Africa's orphans are still mostly unwanted anywhere else
in the world, and that includes the U.S. Last year nearly 21,000 immigrant visas were issued
to Americans that adopted orphans from other nations. Ethiopia with a paltry 441 orphans
that Americans took in was the only African country that cracked the top ten list. Liberia and
Nigeria were the only other African nations among the top 20 nations with 182 and 82
orphans Americans took in.
By contrast, China, with nearly 8,000, and Russia with more than 4,000, headed the list. With
the need so great to find homes for Africa's orphans, why would anyone or group that has a
smidgen of concern about Africa's very poor, very needy, and very neglected orphans raise a
peep of protest about Madonna's noble and courageous adoption of one year-old David 7 EG1413 Banda, a Malawian orphan? There are two reasons. One is loudly publicly stated. The other is
unstated, and more contemptible.
Human rights and child protection groups claim that Madonna tossed her money and
celebrity weight around to bend and twist Malawi's adoption law to fast track the adoption,
and that the adoption is another celebrity chic publicity stunt. Neither is true. She observed
the rules, and the courts have upheld the adoption. She also kicked in a lot of dollars to boost
orphanage services in the country. As one of the world's best-known superstars that legions of
Paparazzi jump over each other to record a sneeze from her, she hardly needs to snatch an
African child to grab some camera action.
The unstated, and more contemptible, reason groups scream about the adoption is the archaic
notion that a white, especially a wealthy white celebrity, is abysmally culturally clueless
when it comes to raising a black child, or worse, they'll whitewash their black identity, and
tout white values (whatever they may be).
Thirty years ago when it was not considered politically incorrect to say such things, the
National Association of Black Social Workers gruffly branded the adoption of black children
by whites, genocide. The group later dropped the inflammatory, over the top rhetoric, and
talked about kinship, extended family ties, preserving cultural identity, and strengthening
family relations, to beg more black families to adopt black babies. Despite the syrupy
sounding positive spin, the message is still pretty much the same. That whites and non-blacks
should butt out when it comes to adopting black babies, and that a black home is the best,
indeed the only place, that a black child should be.
What makes this notion even more wrongheaded and ridiculous, is that the crisis is not just
one in which African babies are shunned in America, African-American orphans are too.
There are more than a half million children in foster care homes in America. Nearly forty
percent of them are African-American children. They stay in foster care homes on average a
year longer than white children.
The litany of myths and stereotypes about black children in the homes is endless. They are
deemed rebellious, have more special needs, and born of disease, alcohol, and drug-ridden
mothers. A number of black church groups, black private, and social agencies, have worked
hard to break down the barriers, and have had modest success in getting more blacks to adopt.
While this is welcome and well intentioned, their adoption pitches have not been color-blind.
They have almost exclusively urged blacks to adopt black children. That subtly reinforces the
notion that black homes are the only place that can provide the children a loving, nurturing
and culturally correct upbringing.
Countless studies have shown that the race of the adopting parent has little to do with whether
an adopted child matures into a healthy, emotionally secure, adult. The key is that the home
must be a loving, nurturing, and financially stable home. There is also little evidence that
black children raised by white parents suffer permanent racial or cultural identity amnesia.
Race and racism is still alive and well enough in enough places in American society to insure
that black children can't or won't forget that they're black. 8 EG1413 Madonna deserves cheers not jeers for casting the ugly glare on Africa's orphan tragedy. The
pity is that more haven't done the same.
Adapted from “Madonna cast an ugly glare on Africa’s orphan tragedy”. Retrieved December 12, 2008, from
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/earl-ofari-hutchinson/madonna-cast-an-ugly-glar_b_32055.html. -END OF PAPER- ...
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- Spring '11