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The Truth Behind the 'Orphan' Movie Uproar: The Real Horrors in Adoption

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If you are in touch, in any way, with adoption issues, no doubt you have seen the headlines: "Adoption Community Protest Movie 'Orphan'"; "Horror movie 'Orphan' is panned by adoption groups"; "New Adoption Horror Movie Causing a Stir"; "'Orphan': A Movie That Reinforces Myths About Adoption"; "Adoption Groups Boycott 'Orphan' Horror Movie."

Concerns that have driven some 1800 persons to sign an online petition to boycott the film began with a line in the trailer asking: "Can you love an adopted child as much as a child of your own?" a line purported to make adopted children feel unloved and subjected to teasing.

According the latest trailers, the "orphan" character, Esther is neither a child or an orphan, and spoiler alert may in fact be a young adult prostitute who specializes in pedophiles as clients because she looks young. This aspect of the plot seems far more objectionable than that which is being protested.

Adoption proponents are claiming, however, that this celluloid fictional horror not unlike The Bad Seed reinforces myths about adoption and will scare off potential adopters of the 129,000 children in U.S. foster care or children who could be adopted from orphanages, globally. Truth is, these kids are systematically left behind by those who demand younger children for adoption.

With far more people vying to adopt than children who need homes, and the demand creating exploitation and coercion even kidnapping and global child trafficking - why is it a concern to reduce the demand? It is in fact estimated that if one in five people who would consider adopting, took a child from U.S. foster care, they would all find home. Seems we need not be afraid of scaring a few off.

Rather than create or reinforce myths, this film may in fact go a long way to dispel the myth that love can cure all problems and may, in fact, have the positive effect of ensuring that only those who are prepared to take on children with serious problems from previous abuse and institutionalization, do so as it seems to illustrate the real lack of transparency in adoption and that those who adopt do not always know and receive preparation to deal with troubled children who may have been abused or subjected to FAS and who very often have difficulty attaching an may replicate abuse toward siblings or classmates.

In order to weigh the real concerns, we must follow the money which is not to imply that Warner Brothers cooked all this controversy up to market their movie's opening. Those spearheading the raucous are organizations that represent adoption attorneys and other entrepreneurs who rely on adoption for their income, or a major part of it: The Association of American Adoption Attorneys, ACT for Adoption, and The Congressional Coalition for Adoption Institute, and The National Committee for Adoption which represents adoption agencies.

Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute recognizes that "It has been a long time since a movie caused this much angst and worry in the adoption, foster care and orphan care communities, even before its release," and Pertman believes "their concerns are well-founded."

But not all in the adoption community agree. Brenda McCreight, PH.D, adoptive says that when interviewed about the film she was asked if she would be taking her children to see that movie. She said "no" but. She writes on her blog, that she "didn't tell her it's because I didn't want them to get any ideas rather than because I was opposed to the movie. She also asked me if I thought this kind of movie distorted the public's view of adoption. My answer to that was that all movies distort the public's view of everything...I told her that I thought that all adoption movies that I'm aware of can lead to a wrong view of adoptees. They either present the child as too cute and precocious for words, or as psychotic, or as a type of person that doesn't exist. They also tend to present them as having problems that can all be cured by love." McCriehgt concludes: "I've discovered over the years that it doesn't matter what the credibility of the magazine or tv nework, they still sway anything you say to fit the pre- chosen slant of the article - if they can't slant your words, they just don't use what you said."

Other bloggers and adoptee organizations believe that the real horrors of adoption is not depicted in this silly film.

The real horror of adoption is that it is a multi-billion dollar, loosely and under-regulated industry in which anyone with no education or training in child welfare or social work can hang out a shingle and arrange adoption, placing children with whomever can pay their fee, with no regard for the best interest of the child whatsoever - only their bottom line.

The real horror is that as a result of these lax entrepreneurial adoption practices, children are placed with pedophiles - most recently a social worker from Duke University named Frank M. Lombard, and most notably children placed with Matthew Mancusco and William Peckenpaugh.

The real horrors in adoption are 14 children adopted by Americans from Russia that were murdered by their adopters and far more adopted children who were abandoned, sent back, and abused in unthinkable ways.

The real horror of adoption is that our government lobbied by the same pro-adoption profiteer's organizations behind these protests - uses the children in foster care as pawns to increase tax benefits every year while allowing the majority of those funds to be used not to adopt kids from foster care, but for international adoption and private domestic infant adoption, adoptions which do not encouragement, promotion or incentives.

Selling on Café Press is a tee shirt that reads: "Esther wants her original birth certificate" created by adoptees who are using the film to call attention to the real horror adoption causes them. Once adopted into the US, adoptees are issued a falsified birth certificates that not only change their name and permanently severe their ability to locate kin, but often changes the date or place of birth, and even their race. It is a real horror that adopted persons are denied equality in regard sot their own birth certificates - a right taken for granted by all other non adopted citizens.

Marley Greiner of Bast*#d Nation notes on her blog Bastardette noting that Warner Brothers, who removed the offensive trailer, apologized asks: "who is going to apologize to us for sealed records, identity theft, forged documents, government lies, adoptee blacklists, coerced surrenders, "safe havens," profiteering, child trafficking, the child sex trade, and all the other garbage cans bastards are tossed in to make everybody else feel good? Oh that's right. Nobody will. We're not a B-movie. We're just B-people."

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Mirah Riben is a human rights activist with a focus on families, children and adoption reform. She is author of two internationally acclaimed books - "shedding light on...The Dark Side of Adoption" (1988) and "THE STORK MARKET: America's (more...)

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