• Erica Rosi Tham

14. The Hague-Accredited Training: Time to Re-evaluate

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

As we endure this pandemic, we all know that we are changing. We have time to re-examine our former priorities and think about who we want to be in the future, as individuals and as organizations.

Looking back, I can see how much I took for granted before COVID-19, including our jobs, our chance to travel, and the regular routines of our daily lives. Though I struggle with anxiety sometimes, especially when we hear troubling news, I feel grateful for this chance to stop, re-evaluate and remember what is most important.

I am hoping that this pandemic will bring new wisdom to the world of adoption. During the last twenty years, decisions were made which, unfortunately, caused people to adopt fewer kids. The number of international adoptions in the U.S. fell from 20,000 per year to 4,000 per year even as the number of orphans in the world increased.

I believe the required Hague Training is an example of how good intentions (or the pressure of international tensions) caused a training to morph into a deterrent. If you take an online Hague-Approved training class, you will learn:

  1. That children who spend time in institutions often have sensory-deprivation disorders.

  2. That adopted children may have bonding issues and reject their new parents for some time.

  3. That adopted children have more sensitive internal alarms, and that it might take you months or years to learn the true cause of your adopted child’s fear, if you learn it at all.

  4. That adopted children are years behind their peers in maturity levels and need to be re-parented.

  5. That adopted children often have hidden medical issues which can create financial pressure for families.

  6. That adopted children may face racial discrimination in their new country.

  7. And there's more ... ten hours worth.

While we need to learn about the special needs of adopted kids, I believe there are two obvious flaws in this training:

1. It discriminates against adopted kids and parents. The implication is that adopted kids are significantly more difficult than biological children, but in my life experience, I have seen parents of biological children deal with learning disabilities, depression, cancer, racial discrimination, sexuality issues, addiction, and bonding difficulties, especially in cases of divorce and remarriage. Now that I near 50 years of age, I have had time to see that few parents fail to experience at least one serious difficulty. And yet there is no requirement that pregnant women and their partners attend trainings about the hazards of child-rearing.

2. It does not effectively address the underlying political issue of adoptive parents returning children when they feel overwhelmed. Yet this is why we need guidelines for conflicts in which people from multiple countries are involved. Firstly, the institutions do need to be held responsible for supplying accurate information about the children. This can be managed proactively. One simple guideline could be that institutions provide long videos of each child eating, playing, learning, feeling excited and feeling depressed or nervous, and visiting the doctor; parents should view an approximate day in the child’s life before making a lifelong choice. And a second step is to put resources toward programs in the US that can help parents deal with borderline cases or cases in which the child’s emotional or physical symptoms could not have been known. If we wish to save the children, this is what we need, not trainings which cause people to give up on the adoption process.

Let’s treasure our hope as we move forward. Let’s keep our minds and hearts open so that we can become better people as a result of the fears and trials we are now experiencing. And let’s contemplate active steps we can take to heal some of the errors of recent years.

Erica Rosi Tham

Read our adoption story from the beginning. You can follow the numbers in this blog to read our story in order.

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