Of foreign adoptions and the Day of the African Child

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Today, its 16th June, a day in which we celebrate the life of an African child. Originating from remembering the massacres of the innocent children in Soweto, South Africa in 1976, we now reflect on the plight of the African child. Indeed we now reflect on the need of the African child to have access to quality education, health, protection against abuse etc. This is because the future of our beautiful African continent lies in the hands of the African child.

Some kids on Chizumulu Island on Lake Malawi in Malawi!

In this post, I would like to share my thoughts of having western 'celebrities' come to Africa to adopt our orphans and vulnerable children. In particular, I would like to refer to a case in which Madonna has been allowed to adopt another child in Malawi. I do not wish to hide that I am one of the many Malawians who are not happy with this decision.

Imagine if all our orphaned children were put up for foreign adoption, what would become of their destiny and indeed the destiny of Africa at large? Obviously as Africans we have our own culture and traditions that can not just simply be ignored for material prosperity in a foreign adopted home. Much as we appreciate that a child needs material care, we can also not ignore the need to protect the African identity of the child. If at all, one is interested in the welfare of African children, the solution is not to just pick one or two kids out of the many thousands of orphaned children out there! What is wrong with helping the kids while the kids are right here in Africa like what Oprah Winfrey does? This idea of 'fishing out a single kid' out of Africa as what Madonna is doing can simply be rated as 'media charity'.

A question then pops up in my mind! Is it that as Africans we have failed to take care of our African children? Maybe we can say so? How? It is very surprising that these kids being put up for foreign adoption are being found in orphanages. If not mistaken, this orpanage syndrome is a new phenomenon across Africa. Why do I say so? Normally, in an African communalistic setting, one is supposed to take care of relatives children as if they are your own children. So even if a parent dies, the relatives of the deceased are supposed to take care of the children. But what do we see now? Relatives quickly send the orphaned children to orphanages. This is why there are so many children in the orphanages now.

Where has our African Umunthu spirit gone? Is this a sign that African cultural values are being eroded? In addition to this, we should go back to our African traditional values that always insist that those who are mature enough are the ones who should get married and have children who they can manage to take care of. Otherwise, we shall keep on having problems of children who lack parental care.


Roelie Tuesday, June 16, 2009 1:45:00 PM  

Indeed, the people running orphanages are the problem.

First they take the children away from the (extended) family.

Then they say that orphanages are not a good environment for children and the child has the right to a family (= adoption). Adoption by foreigners of course (=money)

So, WHO are setting up all these orphanages in Africa?

Right: foreigners

Photo-a-Day Tuesday, July 28, 2009 12:15:00 PM  

Sounds like it is all about business to me - rather than the actual welfare of the child. (which is what adoption is supposed to be about)

In my opinion, a child should only be taken from the parents if the parents are dead and there is no extended family to care for it
If the parents are abusive to the child and there is no able or trustworthy relative to look after the child

if the parents voluntarily give up the child because of social or economic reasons beyound their control.

Unless the child is extremely vulnerable to abuse, or in a situation that he/she will end up in total destitution, i do not think it is right to 'export' children to wealthy foreigners.

If a child is placed into an orphanage and there exists locally, some loving family members - then the child and the birth family deserve rights to access immediate family and the child also MUST retain some part of immediate cultural and spiritual connection.
To have a great upbringing has nothing to do with access to Nike shoes.

SBT Wednesday, August 05, 2009 8:17:00 PM  

Part of the problem I think is that there is an assumption that - if for no other reason than greater prosperity - placing third- and developing-world children in Western homes is better than whatever they have at home. Another problem is that - because there is money to be made - even well-meaning adoptions get overshadowed by an 'adoption industry'.

Came to this blog from BlogCatalog, nice to meet you. I'm in Vancouver, Canada.

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