In Case You Needed Another Reason Not to Support Unicef (updated)October 16, 2007 at 11:55 pm | Posted in AdoptThis! | 39 Comments
Tags: adoption openadoption birthfathers "open adoption", guatemala, UNICEF
I got this link to Multicultural Toybox (which is a pretty awesome site in and of itself) from my one of my must-read bloggers, cloudscome. Unicef, the oh-so-enlightened guardian of children, is using black-face in an advertising campaign (!).
Unicef is opposed to inter-country adoption, and has been very virulently anti-adoption in Guatemala. What they say is that they “believe that children should remain within their extended families or communities, whenever possible.” I don’t have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is the fact that they have essentially offered Guatemala money for orphanages, etc. if and only if they stop adoptions.
If UNICEF really cared about children, imho, they would address adoptions by working to change the root causes of the poverty, racism, misogyny and lack of access to health care and nutrition that force so many women to place their children for adoption in the first place – without requiring that adoptions be stopped prior to offering that aid.
I’m working on a little flyer, in the shape of a twenty-dollar bill, that I can put in kids’ UNICEF boxes this Halloween. It will explain that this is money I would have given to UNICEF, explain why I am not giving money this year, and ask that the recipient forward this “bill” along with any other donations they collect to UNICEF so they can see how much their short-sighted policy is costing them.
If you’d like me to send you the pdf once it’s done, drop me an email. In the meantime, watch this:
I’ve gotten a few comments on this post, urging me not to single-handedly destroy UNICEF and the important work that this great organization does. Interestingly, most of them come from people with IP addresses that belong to UNICEF. Hi UNICEF staffers! Thanks for the full disclosure, folks! To follow up on their comments…
Kendra (UNICEF USA ip address) says: “Please check the facts before jumping to such an ugly and unfounded conclusion about this organization (and before taking such destructive action), that has always stood first and foremost for the welfare of children.”
And Linda (UNICEF USA ip address) says: “Do you all really believe everything you read on the internet?? I would recommend that you read one step further, talk to someone in the organization and learn the facts, not the gossip.”
What makes you jump to the conclusion that I haven’t checked the facts, Kendra & Linda? The blackface ad isn’t a fact? Yes, I’d say using racist strategies to tug on heartstrings is standing first and foremost for the welfare of children. Why do you make the gratuitous and condescending assumption that my readers and I haven’t done our research (why yes, I’m sure we’ll get an unbiased perspective talking to someone in the organization).
The Convention on the Rights of the Child states that (article 6) “every child has the inherent right to life” and that parties to the Convention “shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.”
Article 18 states that “For the purpose of guaranteeing and promoting the rights set forth in the present Convention, States Parties shall render appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities and shall ensure the development of institutions, facilities and services for the care of children… States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that children of working parents have the right to benefit from child-care services and facilities for which they are eligible.”
Article 24 states that: “States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services… [and] shall take appropriate measures: (a) To diminish infant and child mortality; (b) To ensure the provision of necessary medical assistance and health care to all children with emphasis on the development of primary health care; (c) To combat disease and malnutrition… (d) To ensure appropriate pre-natal and post-natal health care for mothers; … (f) To develop preventive health care, guidance for parents and family planning education and services.”
If Guatemala observed any of these articles and provided these supports, Pepito’s mom might not have been forced to make the choice that she, as his parent, freely and legally made, to place him for adoption.
If UNICEF truly cared about the children of Guatemala it would not spend its time, energy, and oh yes, money focusing on their right to enjoy the culture of malnutrition and infant mortality by closing the “safety valve” of international adoption. Those of us who are educators are familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If your stomach is empty and you don’t have a roof over your head, you’re not going to be able to do much in the way of the self-fulfillment and cultural self-actualization that seems to be UNICEF’s spending priority for the children of Guatemala.
Until UNICEF directs its efforts to addressing the primary needs of children in Guatemala – which will, I believe, lower the number of children placed for adoption – I will not be directing my money to UNICEF. I will instead, be directing it to grassroots organizations working directly with women and children in Guatemala to help them gain the skills and rights they need to be in an economic position where they don’t have to choose between watching their child starve or placing him/her for adoption. And I will make sure that others know that this is where their money is better spent. Sorry if that cuts into your paycheck, Kendra and Linda.
I agree with you, Ina (not a UNICEF ip), that UNICEF does do good in the world. But if you compare their actions in Guatemala to their mission – “We believe that nurturing and caring for children are the cornerstones of human progress… to work with others to overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and discrimination place in a child’s path. We believe that we can, together, advance the cause of humanity.” – it seems clear to me that their primary mandate should be to alleviate the root causes of poverty – not to focus substantial amounts of time, effort and money on opposing international adoption.