Thursday, March 31, 2011

It’s fairly well-known, but still shocking, that over 1 billion people survive on less than a dollar per day. I saw several of them in the last week while I was in Ethiopia – from the women in rural areas carrying huge stacks of wood on their backs to people of all ages foraging through trash at the large dump on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. For me, the ability to put individual faces and stories with the statistics brings a much greater sense of urgency to the problem.

I agree with former Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, that all decisions are based on probability analysis, at least implicitly.

As I watched humans compete with vultures and goats for scraps at the dump, I was struck by the notion that these destitute people are conducting their own probability analysis – the risk of starving to death against the risks associated with eating rotten, diseased garbage.

Tougher choices than what we face, huh ?

I wanted to avert my eyes, but instead I just focused intently on these helpless people, trying to burn the images in my conscious, so they don’t fade.

But some may not be completely without hope, because through the generosity of several of our Gladney families, a program to provide nourishing food for the elementary school age children who otherwise would be working with their parents to pick through garbage is being implemented. This program will also enable them to attend school and potentially break the cycle of poverty, at least in their families.

Turning 60 !

Monday, March 14, 2011

No, not me! I have a much older sister who is entering her 7th decade and I believe she would want me to ask all my friends to share in her joy during the sunset years of her life. I could think of no more fitting way to get the word out than to write a post on my blog.

I don’t feel old at all, until I think about having a 60-year old sister!

We were the classic younger brother / older sister growing up. I did everything in my power to annoy her and I was very good at it. Her response was this look that said “you are so disgusting”.

Actually, we became quite close over the years, based in large part on our shared Christian faith. She helped pray me in, although I came kicking and screaming.

Happy Birthday, Dorinda, and don’t worry, there’s no sign in your yard this time.

Intercountry Adoption

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Intercountry adoption (ICA) is non-existent, statistically speaking. Last year, just over 11,000 children were adopted into the U.S. from other countries. The world’s orphan population is variously estimated between 143,000,000 and 163,000,000 with some estimates even higher. You do the math - less than .01%.

Yet so much time, thought and other resources go into shaping and reshaping agreements, laws, regulations and procedures governing ICA, as well as continuous, sometimes acrimonious, sometimes self-serving debate on the “best interest of the child”.

Many of us in the field of ICA are working to change this .01%, but consciously or not, we’re simply working at the margins to address a problem of enormous magnitude.

Let’s just throw in the towel. Let’s redeploy all of our efforts to another noble cause, or……

Let’s get serious and confront the fundamental challenges and barriers, and bring about systemic change so that ICA truly becomes a viable part of the solution to the orphan crisis rather than a statistical footnote.

Will we be content if ICA addresses .02% of the problem by 2020? I know I won’t. A reasonable target is 1%. This can happen if 1) the adoption community takes a hard line against any behaviors we witness that are not grounded in absolute integrity, and 2) we align our priorities with those of the countries where we work.