Karen Smith Rotabi is Associate Professor of Social Work at United Arab Emirates University. She has lived and worked in a number of countries. She frequently writes about her experiences in Central America. Her experience includes 2 years as a Peace Corps Volunteeer in Belize and then later training Peace Corps Volunteers in both Belize Guatemala. In 2009, Rotabi participated in the Guatemala Human Rights Commission delegation on Violence Against Women. Openly criticizing the intercountry adoption system in Guatemala, prior to major reforms, became a personal commitment after hearing from many sources about the grave human rights abuses of birth mothers, including one young woman who managed to cease the illegal adoption of her daughter after her highly publicized case of child kidnapping and DNA-fraud. It should be noted that Rotabi has herself worked with families seeking to adopt and her interest is in developing ethical systems which prevent child sales and abduction. Her leadership in this area of practice includes involvement of USA-implementation of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. Committed to global social work and human rights, these themes are found throughout her publications. The 2012 book entitled Intercountry Adoption: Policy, Practices, and Outcomes was co-edited by Rotabi with Judith L. Gibbons. You can follow Rotabi’s work here.
Recently, the investigation files on children forcefully disappeared during the 13-year civil war in El Salvador were destroyed in an attack on the offices of Asociación Pro-Búsqueda—seemingly part of an orchestrated campaign to destroy evidence related to the genocidal acts committed during the civil war.
Anyone who follows inter-country adoption and its dramatic decline since 2004 can see that Russia's ban on inter-country adoptions to the United States is the final slamming of a door that has been slowly closing for a number of years.
Press reports of the attack on Malala Yousafazi are focused on religious extremism and the Taliban’s crushing hold on some regions in Pakistan. I want to focus not only on Malala but also on how educating girls, one by one, can change the world.
Stories abound of children stolen from their families in countries of conflict and chaos. Beware of countries with a history of atrocities and don’t become complicit: The "blinders" are quite profound once you enter the adoption process and become committed to a child.
Because much of my research has focused on reforming intercountry adoption and most especially Guatemala, I opened Siegal’s “Finding Fernanda” cautiously. By the end of this captivating read, it is impossible to see Alvarado as anything but a strong and resilient woman who is determined to fight circumstances of poverty and oppression.
For many committed to intercountry adoption, it is unfortunate that since the year 2004 the practice has declined more than 50%. An important question is: what is happening? The answer is complex. To begin with, the unfortunate reality is that intercountry adoption has a mixed history.
A well-known surrogacy attorney in California used her networks and well-financed practice to dupe families into paying over $100,000 for a child based on a fraudulent scenario. Basically, those looking to secure a child were told that a surrogacy arrangement had fallen apart—the intended parents backing out of the arrangement. This was false and a story constructed for fraud.
On her show, Oprah presented global surrogacy as a promising practice, spotlighting a US family that obtained their baby through medical tourism in India. But she left out the social complexities involved.
Since the publication of my original article on surrogacy in Guatemala, a number of people have thanked me for exploring global surrogacy. But the director of one adoption agency requested a retraction of the story. More on that here.