Elements in Mary Roach's "Stiff"

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Sending and Receiving Children: Adoption of Children from Foreign Countries

In Mary Roach’s book, Stiff, The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, she describes how upstanding anatomists would pay “body snatchers” to dig up graves and retrieve bodies for “dissection” (44-45). The anatomists never saw anything wrong with digging up the bodies, dissecting, and desecrating beyond recognition, then throwing the bodies literally to the vultures. This disrespect of bodies still occurs today on a different scale, all over the world. Some countries in the world today are not as fortunate or as developed as the United States is, which makes raising a family more difficult than Americans can imagine. Families sometimes have to give up their children for money to survive or their children are kidnapped from them to be put up for adoption (Graff 2). In Roach’s footnote she makes a valid point; “how could people of the nineteenth century have allowed teeth from cadavers to be put into their mouths?” (45) The same point is made today with adoptions, how can Americans know what is going on concerning foreign adoptions and still pay almost $35,000 for a child from abroad. “They possibly didn’t know and probably didn’t care” (Roach 45). American born orphans number in the hundreds of thousands, so by adopting abroad a couple takes away an American child’s chance at a family. Inter-country adoption is not ethical unless every means to adopt an American born child is tried so that U.S. born children are given a chance at family.

In the U.S., adoption is a major controversy, especially inter-country adoption because parents seek out foreign children in a humanitarian effort or simply because they cannot have children of their own. Some individuals do not see these reasons as valid to consider adopting abroad so arguments are raised in opposition. There are several issues that come along with adopting from a foreign country that couples do not think about. One main issue is that some children are not orphans at all; they have either been kidnapped from their homes or they were given up for money to be put up for adoption. “Many international adoption agencies work not to find homes for needy children but to find children for Western homes” (Graff 2) and that corrupts the entire process of saving a child in need. At least in most cases in the U.S., the adoptive family will know a majority of the child’s background and will not be contributing to, what is sad to say, a “demand-driven [adoption] industry” (Graff 2). Inter-country adoptions are less regulated than U.S. adoptions and that is appealing to some couples, but opens up the door for more problems. According to the Department of Children and Family Services, the adoption process can take around three months to complete and sometimes longer if there were any issues along the way (Paulsen 13). When dealing with foreign adoptions the process is shorter and is much easier to complete and be paired with a child, so the easy route is taken more often than not.

With each adoption the children will carry with them their experiences from the orphanage or the foster home they were living at. In an article by Chloe Lancaster and Kaye W. Nelson called “Where Attachment Meets Acculturation: Three Cases of International Adoption,” three mothers of eight children adopted from China were asked about life after the adoptions and one of the themes from their experiences was that the child was having psychological problems dealing with new surroundings and a new world. The children would struggle with educational development and sometimes even slower physical development when dealing with older adoptees. And these “psychological impairments” (Lancaster 302) have a large effect on attachment issues with the adoptive parents and even the children making friends. The children’s entire lives have never been constant; life has just been countless different homes and disappointments, which just adds stress...
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