In Case You Needed Another Reason Not to Support Unicef (updated)

October 16, 2007 at 11:55 pm | Posted in AdoptThis! | 39 Comments
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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:

And if you need something to cheer you up once you’ve done that, check out this.

UPDATE:

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.

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39 Comments »

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  1. I lost your e-mail address, but I’d love a copy of the pdf. What a GREAT idea!!!

  2. Wow. I never knew that about Unicef. And the video was very eye-opening (and made me teary eyed). I’d like a pdf when you finish.

    Thanks.

  3. I would definitely like a pdf – what a great idea. We were just about 2 weeks away from getting a referal when the latest in Guatemala hit – so frustrating.

  4. Oh my gosh! I clicked on the link not believing what I was going to see! Who, in this day and age, actually uses black-face?!?!

    Absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable!

  5. Wow. I had no idea. Thanks for the info, art-sweet.

  6. I am agog.

    my chin is on the floor.

    I am linking to YOU, because I have no words.

  7. “oy” does not even begin to cover it. WTF?

    I thought UNICEF were the good guys.

    Definitely send me that pdf when you’re done. Not that anyone in our neighborhood collects for UNICEF, but I’ll be prepared anyway.

  8. We don’t get trick-or-treaters on our street but I am rather in shock about the blackface thing – who does that???

  9. Would love a copy of that letter when you finish it…I keep meaning to write one and haven’t had a chance.

  10. Send me the twenty!

  11. Please send me that .pdf file. I would love to put it into the unicef boxes i see!

  12. 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.

    Enough said.

  13. 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.

  14. I am appluading here…

  15. Applauding too.

  16. Please bear in mind the life-saving work that UNICEf does. UNICEF is a body made up of representatives from individual governments. I agree that addressing the root causes of the kind of poverty that leads to intercountry adoption is necessary, but it’s not something UNICEF is able to do on a global level. Can you imagine being a person from a developing country, watching wealthy people adopting “your” children? From the persepctive of poor countries, inter-country adoption does not benefit them intrinsically, but provides 1st-worlders with healthy babies. I say this as a supporter of international adoption; I don’t think UNICEF should be condmned beacuse of some of its member states’ actions.

  17. Bravo! Brilliant idea. And thanks so much for spreading the truth about this obscenely expensive, inefficient organization that too often does more harm than good. It is beyond time the UN and its tentacles became accountable and had the PR machine challenged in its tireless grinding out of positive spin with no basis in fact.

    The organization’s behavior in Guatemala now is shameful, but the silver lining just may be the bright light now being aimed toward the dark and dirty corners that make up so much of the UN.

  18. Thanks for this. I too was in the dark about UNICEF (although I knew there was something creepy about the way they distributed $).

    Great idea about the PDF – I’d like one too.

  19. Good catch on the UNICEF ip addresses! I think they’ve given up bothering with comments on my blogs that slam their gravy train, but it looks like they’re still in business.

  20. Wow. For all your words, I seem to have none. Thanks for putting out there.

  21. Great post. Send me the pdf
    Thanks!

  22. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE send me the pdf when you are done. I’m actually making up a flyer also and going around to businesses that have the stupid UNICEF bags out and handing out my flyer with the FACTS and requesting that they remove the bags. You are my hero!!!

  23. Any kids who come to my house on Halloween with UNICEF boxes are gonna get a beat down.

  24. Definitely want the pdf. I’ll pass it around to my family as well. Rockin idea girl!

  25. My friend Jonathan and his partner Seth had the adopotion papers signed 2 days before the raid. They were able to get their son out about three weeks ago. I have followed your blog long before you got Pepito and congrats. Email me and let me know what help I can do. Thanks, Michelle

  26. [...] In the meantime, for all those who were interested, here is my donation to UNICEF for this Halloween (right click to download).  For background on why UNICEF is on my poop list, go here. [...]

  27. International adoption has become an international trade subject to much corruption -money- because clients in rich countries opt to buy babies from poor countries. It is not about children welfare at all. It is another form of consumerism. I am sorry, I would support Unicef in here. If you want to help, give that money for development or adopt children over 5 who really need you.

  28. Wow…pretty strong opinion…so you are saying that children over the age of 5 need a home more than children under the age of 5??? That makes sense, picking and choosing which children really need a home, hey? And I think it a pretty ignorant comment to say that we are buying babies??? Hmm, maybe I will try and find you when my son is much older and he can let you know how he feels about it…or maybe you could talk to my husband, who happens to be adopted, maybe he could thank you for your narrow world view!!! He’s sure glad that his parents didn’t feel the way that you do…do you know that Unicef is now working in Haiti to cause problems with International Adoption….you know, focusing the money that people give them on this because they totally have a handle on the major problem in that country! Only 1 child an hour dies of starvation there. Unicef is sure doing A STAND UP JOB!!! My congratulations go out to them! And we do give money through organizations who actually do have the best interest of the children involved to support that country. I think you need to be more well informed. Do the research and maybe talk to a famliy who has adopted or a child who has been adopted? It may change your mind…

  29. It’s not “ignorant” to say that you’re “buying babies”, but a literal truth. Adoption is a profitable business and many agencies are corrupt and unethical.

    You claim that saying international adoption is “buying babies” is ignorant. By that, you probably really only mean that it hurts your feelings. The truth is, unless you’re saying you spent no money on fees for the adoption agency and they did it all for free, it is indeed “buying babies”. That’s the truth.

    You tell critics of international adoption to “do their research”. Do some research of your own and talk to those who have been adopted and are critical of the adoption industry. <a href=http://bastardette.blogspot.comHere is one place to start.

  30. And international adoption, even when it does end in good outcomes, is only a band-aid. If you’re considering adopting a child, whether domestically or internationally, stop and think. Make sure you research the agency you’re going through carefully. Try to meet and talk with the mother of the child whenever possible to get a sense of her opinions on the matter. Remember that you’re not entitled to a baby – don’t act like this couple. And so on.

    • dude, everyone’s entitled to have children.

  31. Please send me anything you have or any contact info you have to unicef folks. They are standing in the way of us adopting our sons sister from Ukraine. Her family has given up their rights but UNICEF will not allow her to be registerered to be adoptable because she has been selected to be part of a foster program. She is living with a family till she is 18 and then they are letting her go. The family will not adopt her because they will loose the unicef stipend. I want to challenge someone at UNICEF to help keep these siblings together and in a permanent home. Please send me anything you may think that could help. thank so much! Monica

  32. I would love to have that PDF file. Please and thank you! (I am a Key Clubber, whose service partner is UNICEF. I would love to bring this up to the head of Key Club).

  33. Very well said. I am curious as to which organization my money would be doing the most help, obviously its not unicef. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  34. this dude is an SOB they aren’t trying to prevent adoption they’re trying to keep kids with their moms and dads as well as increase regulations on adoption when it is the best option!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  35. The video has dissapeared?

  36. Well, I have a different opinion. You’re not going to like it I’m not so for the adoption option except in rare circumstances. I’ll use me as an example.
    First, I’d like to say that many, many many kids that are put up for adoption do not get adopted. Mostly kids that are over the age of 2.
    When I was 3 I was taken away by the government from my parents. By age 5 the mom and guy on my birth certificate(not my blood father) permanently lost all rights. The government was supposed to put me up for adoption and failed. I endured many abuses and it probably would have been better to be left with my bio fam. At age 12 the gov said “By the way she was supposed to be put up for adoption at age 5 ask her if she still wants to.” At this pt my abusive foster mother convinced me no one would want to adopt me. Instead I got a name change with her last name while she still collected foster-care-welfare-paychecks. I was still being abused. I left at age 15 and by age 18 left the foster system. At that time there wasn’t a law to help you until age 21 like there is now. I missed it by a couple years. It took until I was 25 to obtain my bachelor’s degree all while not having parents or family help or financial physical or emotional help from the father for my child. Still to date. Now, you’re saying adoption is best? I`m a rare 3% success story of what happens after age 18. What happens to those who are not adopted gets really ugly. Most end up prostitutes or strip clubs those who are women here in the U.S.. I can imagine how much worse it is over in 3rd world countries.
    Im still undecided if I’ll give to UNICEF. But, this isn’t a good enough reason not to.

  37. Wow…
    Ok. Regardless of peoples opinions on foreign adoption; does UNICEF help children?
    Short answer, yes!
    Their record for helping children in emergency relief situations is quite good. To deprive them of the funds to do so, well, is quite a drastic, nasty, short-sighted and self righteous step!
    All in all, by reputation, access and political weight, they are a good organization for seeing some good done.
    Get off your high horses, and weigh up the good that is done, along with the seemingly only potentially bad, then form an opinion.

    …and to the person who criticized UNICEFs efforts in Haiti? The problems in Haiti are MASSIVE. As they are in any place that requires emergency relief. To slag them off for not completely turning the place into a utopia in an instant is just ridiculous. If making this world the place it SHOULD be was as easy as that, it’d be done. There’d be no need for charity!

    The biggest problems with charity bashers, is that they’re constantly looking for reasons not to give. Be selective, yes; But also be realistic.
    Donating to charity is about doing your bit. A total solution can only come about when enough of the small parts finally come together. If people with-hold their funds for, as yet, debatable reasons, we’ll never get anywhere.
    It’s cliché, but it’s true. If a single life is saved, good has been done.
    If you get a flat, you don’t slash the other three tyres, do you?

    Peace.

  38. I honestly feel like laughing at you. You believed in something pure, then got upset to find out it wasn’t. Really In the history of the Human Race including all variables of society, you should be a fool. Unicef is good in the ways it does help, but there is only so much it can do. Everything is a kink in it, everyone has a flaw, and there isn’t one diamond out there that should be worth the world to someone. Humans are failing on so many levels. What I mean to say is… pick up Aristotle and his ideas on Happiness, then incorporate them into yourself, afterwards you should feel like a fool.


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