The double standard for foreign nationals runs deep. So deep that a young, single American girl can travel to Uganda and take custody of 13 children, while a married, financially secure Ugandan woman is turned down for adoption in her own country.
Patricia Musanje is a 23-year old woman who stays on the Lubowa side of Kampala. This past Wednesday, 12th of September, we were able to interview Patricia on her experience in pursuing adoption. Patricia’s husband is a dual citizen in both Uganda and the United States.
We opened the interview up by asking Patricia how she first learned of Katie Davis Majors, the American woman who is known for her New York Times best selling book, Kisses From Katie, where she details how she came to take in 14 Ugandan girls in the town of Jinja, Uganda. Ms. Musanje explained that she had been researching the adoption process in Uganda. While searching for videos on Youtube, she happened across a video that CNN featured about an American couple who had found themselves in the middle of an unethical adoption.
After finding the story detailing how a Mother was tricked into giving her child up for adoption, Patricia found an article about a 22-year-old American woman had ‘adopted’ 13 children here in Uganda. Initially, this seemed to give her hope. Surely if a foreign national was able to come and successfully complete the adoption process of multiple children, she and her husband, Ugandan born nationals, would have no trouble completing the adoption process of one child in need of a loving home.
Ms. Musanje would soon find that this was not the case.
It is a common misconception that Ugandans do not want to adopt and that is why we need people from outside to meet the needs of our children. This is far from true. It is this false sense of urgency of foreign nationals to swoop in and ‘rescue’ that bypasses all of the capable Ugandan families willing to open their homes and hearts to orphaned and vulnerable children.
This mindset is not limited to white westerners. While researching the best way to move forward with the adoption process, Patricia was met with comments from Ugandan authorities explaining, “We want these kids to be adopted by white families. It is the white families that can provide for them a better life”. This very mindset, held by foreign nationals and Ugandans alike, has allowed for an 18 year old American girl to adopt 13 children in a foreign country while a 23-year old, married Ugandan woman with more than adequate finances has struggled to even begin the process of adoption.
After reaching out to multiple babies homes, including Amani Baby Cottage in Jinja, Patricia became discouraged. Time after time her inquiries were ignored or she was turned down. When we asked if this had discouraged Ms. Musanje from pursuing adoption, she answered confidently that she has not given up the fight. She has now hired a lawyer and is speaking with a Babies Home in Kampala about beginning the adoption process.
Children being adopted by foreign nationals are often treated like trophies, fetishized for their dark complexion and exotic birth countries. The ‘parents’ are praised for saving them from the inevitably dismal future they would have surely faced if they remained in their home country. International adoption and transracial adoption are glamorized while the very problematic realities are ignored. Children are being torn from their heritage and it is being communicated that white families are preferred over families that could preserve the child’s culture, language and nationality.
While the reality has long been painted that orphanages and adoption by foreign nationals are the only option for Uganda’s most vulnerable children, there are a number of organizations working to challenge this narrative. You can find more information by researching and following the work of Child’s i Foundation, Abide Family Center and Reunite Uganda.
We cannot afford to continue supporting this reality where an 18 year old American is considered a better option to raise Ugandan children than a financially stable, married, Ugandan couple. We can do better and we must.