THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
actions. It is truly difficult not to become emotionally involved
when you know what’s at stake.
Therein lies the danger. The entire process is emotionally
charged for the adoptive families—from the anticipation of
bringing a child into the family, to the financial commitment, to
the uncertainties of a long and complex procedure in a foreign
country. But it is also an emotional experience for the consular
officer overseeing the case. Emotions can cloud judgment,
making officers more willing to overlook potential problems.
Certainly, the temptation exists to approve an adoption case to
fulfill a family’s dreams.
When confronted with wrongdoing or malfeasance, a differ-
ent set of emotions comes into play. Many of us might prefer to
confront a flawed policy with either resentment or apathy. But
such feelings distort the message and ultimately undermine
the legitimacy of a reasoned and constructive dissent. Had I
responded emotionally, it is doubtful I could have changed any-
thing about adoptions in Uganda.
Still, I found the process of dissent itself emotionally draining.
Like others before me, I worried about the ramifications of my
actions. Would I have the ambassador’s support? Would Wash-
ington block me from future jobs because I openly voiced my
criticisms? In the end, to do the right thing, I had to push aside
these concerns. I had to rely on the facts in front of me, as we all
must if we are to do our jobs correctly.
Difficult as it was for me to take this path, I know it was the
correct one. The messages of support I received from colleagues
around the world are sufficient proof that dissent remains a criti-
cal part of our profession, and that we must all have the courage
to speak out when the evidence is clear. We may be filled with
unfamiliar or contradictory emotions in the course of our lives
and professional careers, but we should never let them cloud our
judgment in deciding what is right.
In the end, to do the right thing,
I had to rely on the facts in
front of me, as we all must if
we are to do our jobs correctly.Take AFSA With You! Change your address online, visit us at www.afsa.org/address Or Send changes to: AFSA Membership Department 2101 E Street NW Washington DC 20037 Moving?