Monday, January 18, 2010

Tracking Orphan I

So, while everyone is tracking Orphan I   I thought this would fill the interlude with a story on international adoptions in Pittsburgh.

Some friends of mine who used to work INS (now USCIS) right here in Pittsburgh would always tell me that there was something of an urban legend down there that there must be some environmental problem here that kept fertility rates low. Seriously. The reason was that they said an inordinate number of international adoptions processed nationwide came through their Pittsburgh office... Thus they inferred a larger demand for international adoptions locally.  Of course it was the type of thing that gets me wondering.

It is true that when you benchmark this, the number of births locally is low. There are some real obvious reasons for it. An older and much more highly educated population both tend to decrease the number of expected births. Low international immigration also depresses local fertility rates compared to elsewhere in the country. Once you take both of those factors into account I think you explain most of the recent differences observed in birth rates in the region vis a vis the US.  

But back to my INS friends.. and this was some years ago for the record…. Not anyone who is down there now. I could never get them to give me some hard numbers to document their perceptions even. Probably is something to dig into a bit. My guess, and it is purely a guess, is that there may be more international adoptions that would be expected for a region our size. Also pure speculation, let’s call it a hypothesis, is that the regions long history and connections to Eastern Europe facilitated some steady flows of adoptions over some recent decades.

So a speculative hypothesis to explain an unsubstantiated observation… nothing more. Just watching and praying like everyone else.


Blogger Maria said...

"a speculative hypothesis to explain an unsubstantiated observation"

Are you sure you're not describing many Twitter/Facebook posts here?

Monday, January 18, 2010 5:54:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I suppose in a Freudian way..

Monday, January 18, 2010 7:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could it be that we just have a large number of adoption agencies based here that place children in homes not just in Pittsburgh, but throughout the country, thus causing a spike in the number of international adoptions that come through here- at least on paper?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 12:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in the South Hills and I see an awful lot of families around here with at least one child adopted internationally. I also here a lot of so and so just adopted a child from Korea, Russia, etc. etc.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I think that is my point... that there is a long established infrastructure here supporting intl adoptions.. the question would then be why? Not an issue, but it would be an interesting sidebar to the bigger story we are all watching.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 12:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone should have told DHS Director Marc Cherna about "the long established infrastructure here supporting international adoptions." It might have saved families who are adopting the children from Haiti some aggravation. Today, Cherna had to be set straight by Federal authorities. They reminded him these international adoptions are Federal matters and he does not have the authority to release the children. The children are under Federal custody. Cherna's intentions to temporarily house the children in Mel Blont's Youth Home (an institution well-known for its own allegations of child abuse) will need to go through the Feds.

According to KDKA, at today's press conference at Children's Hospital Cherna asserted, "A lot of the parents are coming to Pittsburgh, they've gotten here already. Our judges are all set, the lawyers and immigration is taking the lead, they're in town now. If the paperwork is good, we hope that we can give them the children and they can take them home," That's some good grandstanding. But Mr. Cherna, while he may hold tremendous power in Allegheny County, he's out of his element in this matter of Federal jurisdiction.

When confronted, Cherna told an aide to inform the families of his gaffe. Perhaps he's too busy figuring out a way to not look so dirty single sourcing Deloitte of million dollar contracts to deliver nonfuctional computer systems to CYS.


Chris, I enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 6:42:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

Hard to explain how little I hope this becomes a format for deconstructing the ongoing process. And to link the issue at hand to some computer contracting issue is clearly non sequitur. It seems a simple observation that there are some truly unique circumstances in play. Maybe a question worth asking is if there is any precedent for a mass adoption proceedings like this. International adoption is deep in the nexus of international legal issues under the best of circumstances and nothing connected to Haiti these days can be described that way.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 6:59:00 PM  

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