Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Helping the people who are helping the kids!

Today was a very busy day at JCICS. We are doing a lot to get ready for the trip to Ethiopia. I helped put together binders of information that Tom and Rebecca will need there. There are more documents required and legal aspects of their jobs than I expected. When I think about the fact that their work deals with the emotional, physical, and psychological wellbeing of children, it makes sense that there are many requirements and processes involved. I always help write thank you notes for donations to the "Be the Answer" campaign we are doing. Tom told me to start thinking of something in particular that I want to get involved with at Joint Council. I am still trying to decide what I would want to do. Something that involves the issues and people we are working with.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Prep work and Organization Skills

Yesterday, Joint Council was a pretty busy place. Tom and Rebecca are preparing to go to Ethiopia. They had a lot of different documents about Joint Council that they needed printed out and copied before they go next week. So, I got to figure out how much everything costs, upload the documents, and place the order with certain details for the documents. This sounds simple, but it actually took me a long time. As I get more familiar with certain programs and understand the best way to do things, hopefully I'll be able to get things like this done more quickly. I have picked up the etapesty database we use fairly easily. I'm sure my dad would also be proud that I'm using Microsoft Excel everyday, a program he labels "really cool" but I never found the use for before this internship. The day was topped off nicely with cupcakes for everyone, compliments of Rebecca.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

International adoptions

I've interned four days so far at Joint Council, an organization that advocates and educated others about ethical, standardized international adoption. An issue we discussed Wednesday was the practice of putting children up for adoption who already have at least one parent. Although the idea that the child will have a better life and more opportunities if they are taken in by a more affluent family is often used to justify this practice, Joint council upholds the principle that a child's best life is with their biological family. Furthermore, the families who adopt these children are often lied to or not told that these children have at least one parent. Medical information is also lied about, often stating that certain children are healthy when they are not. The sad conclusion I drew from this is that the adoption agencies that are doing this are more focused on profits and productivity than the best interests of the children and of the families.
The video we watched focused on adoptions in Ethiopia. It was so sad to see the birth parents feel as though they had to give up their children. Some mothers talked about the broken promises they received about keeping contact with their children and receiving financial help. The adoptive parents were also heartwrenched by the situation. They often find out after the adoption has been finalized that their child's birth parents are still alive.
The lack of complete transparency and anterior motives of adoption agencies are just two complications of international adoption. I am beginning to learn just how complicated this process really is, and why it is so important that there are organization like Joint Council to promote legal, ethical, and child welfare-focused adoption practices.
After the video, the other interns and I were called into Tom, the president of Joint Council, and Rebecca, the government relations and communications manager, about what we saw. Tom was very angry about these practices and explained why it was so important that people know that this is going on. At the end of our discussion he says, "Its because of people like this that this organization exists."
Its really interesting to hear about and discuss these important issues. Still, a lot of my time is spent organizing the 35000 names of the membership directory. I look for people who have more than one account, or who could share an account with their spouse who has the same email address. This isn't exactly exhilarating, but I'm glad to be helping them become more organized. As long as I have some music on, it isn't too bad of a task.
My favorite part of working here is the people. Rebecca, Tom, and all the other interns made me feel welcome immediately. They are flexible and very pleasant to work with. I'm excited to learn more about their work.
Until next week,