Thursday, September 17, 2015

Perilous Journey (Reviewed By Bonnie)

I had the news on again while I was getting ready for work (like I do almost every day) when I heard something about adoption. Of course my ears perked up and my attention completely shifted to the TV. They started talking about a couple who were adopting from the Congo and the agency that was helping them. From what I could gather from the news report, something went very wrong and it seemed that part of the problem was the agency handling the adoption. They then said that the whole story, including changes to the adoption laws, would be on later that night. I got really excited about this and quickly told Chemene all about it. I figured she would check it out and explain the whole thing to me when she wrote about it in the blog. HAHA! NO! She asked me to write it up. Hmmm, ok, I'll give it a shot. I mean, what the heck, I suggested it. Time to put on the big girl panties and go to work (so to speak) LOL!

I recorded the episode of "48 Hours" titled "Perilous Journey" and put it aside for about a week. I was dreading writing this post. How to start, how to hold your interest, how to do justice to a story and journey where I am still very much a newbie. Finally I couldn't put it off any longer. I did say I would do it after all.

I watched the episode, and couldn’t figure out what to do from there. I hated it! I put it aside for another week or so trying to figure out what I could say. Even as I'm writing, I'm dreading writing this.

The focus was on a couple who chose to adopt 2 girls, siblings, from the Congo. They had three biological sons and they thought their family was complete. The husband is in the service and while he was deployed he saw children in need. He said he couldn't stop thinking about them and wondering if they were ok so he told his wife he wanted to adopt. They found the two girls on a website called "Celebrate Children International" and started all the necessary steps to adopt. Within three weeks they started having problems. There were issues with the paperwork, the children's health and even the document that related what was known about the girls' history and how they came to be eligible for adoption. Their contact at the agency, Sue Hedberg, becomes less than helpful and the couple had to take the adoption into their own hands.

At this point, I'm more than 15 minutes into the program, I've seen the wife cry twice, there has been no talk about changes to the international adoption laws and I'm starting to get frustrated.  Months go by, nothing happens other than a letter stating that the couple is recognized as the parents of the girls. Sue Hedberg becomes for difficult and evasive. They've been told that there is an issue with the adoption and they can not yet take the girls to America, so they decide to go to the Congo and take the adoption into their own hands. They hire a new attorney and that’s the last we hear about that situation at all.

Then the show shifts gears and begins to talk about a whole new country and a whole new group of people. The only carry over is Sue Hedberg and Celebrate Children International. They start talking about a little Guatemalan girl, her only days old sister and the American woman who wanted to adopt her. Several weeks into the process things start to go wrong. Suddenly the little girl is no longer available for adoption because her mother showed up with people with guns demanding her children back. Much later in the program we find out that the mother lost her children when they were abducted by her employer. The employer apparently convinced her that it would be better if she took the children for a little while so the mother could work and make money to take care of the girls.  It was quite some time later and with the help of the woman trying to adopt that the mother did get her children back. (30 minutes, still no talk about changing laws but at least something good has happened)

Finally, we start getting into legalities. We come to find that Sue Hedberg works with countries whose laws are the loosest. She doesn't look into where the children come from, she turns a blind eye to discrepancies. Also she has been denied Hague accreditation twice due to what they called "ethical concerns, a lack of honesty, and a willingness to work with unscrupulous facilitators".

The frustration is coming back! How can she be allowed to still be in business? What is going to happen to stop this and correct the problems? We're about 45 minutes into the program at this point and I am feeling like I got suckered in.  They said they were going to talk about changes to the international adoption laws but so far all they've really talked about is a family from Kentucky trying to adopt two girls from Congo and a woman from Tennessee who almost adopted a kidnapped girl from Guatemala.

Oops, spoke too soon! We get less than thirty seconds discussing how starting in July of 2016 there will be a law in place requiring all agencies to operate under the same set of standards. WAIT ONE MINUTE HERE! There isn't already a set of standards that all agencies must follow!?! Seems to me that somebody is a little late to the party with that set of rules! Besides, we’re talking about kidnappers and human traffickers, am I really supposed to believe that a “set of standards” is going to fix this?

The final few minutes of the program shows the Kentucky family finally getting the necessary paperwork from the government in the Congo to leave the country, their reunion with their sons and their final comments.

I have to say, I am completely underwhelmed by this program. I went into it thinking I would get an education about the current laws and the upcoming changes, but instead I learned very little while watching a family struggle to adopt two children they can't even be sure (in my mind) weren't abducted. They glossed over the discrepancies in their background and paperwork and pushed forward with the adoption. I also am disgusted with the fact that an agency, up until now, didn't have to follow a specific set of rules. How is that morally right or even legal?  Obviously, I have a lot to learn about adoption and the law!

Check out the episode here!

Reviewed By Bonnie
Future Mom
Group Member
Retail Store Owner

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