The Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs has just released a thoughtful essay on international adoption policy by Alison M. S. Watson, Head of the School of International Relations at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. The piece,titled, Love and Legislation: The International Politics of Inter-country Adoption, focuses on the ethical limitations of the Hague Convention and UN Convention on the Rights of the Child where adoption is concerned, as well as the negative and incoherent attitude many international stakeholders display toward ithe issue. Professor Watson writes:
The debate surrounding inter-country adoption is not made any clearer by the somewhat negative tone that some of the most powerful intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations (NGO's) that advocate for children assume in their views.
For example, UNICEF states that it supports inter-country adoption, when it is carried out in line with the standards and principles of the Hague Convention, but that it is a practice that can also pose significant problems and risks if children are unnecessarily denied the opportunity to live with their parents or relatives and/or are exposed to trauma and long-term emotional problems. UNICEF also states that the financial aspects of international adoption can encourage malpractice and accelerate the proliferation of poor quality orphanages, as well as diverting resources from the development of good quality alternative care for children in their own communities.
There is no doubt that there is truth in such statements—adoption does have a life-long impact on any child, and there are indeed financial incentives that can encourage malpractice. But many would argue that the amount of lip-service paid to these issues is out of proportion with the extent of these malpractices themselves. This is not to say that cases of corruption and child laundering do not take place—they absolutely do; however seeing inter-country adoption as somehow commensurate with such malpractice is to take a distorted view. Moreover, such sentiments take much away from the majority of bona fide adoptive parents who often spend significant time ensuring that their adoptions are ethical, and on trying to minimize the long-term ill effects on their child.
Read the entire piece if you can. It's well worth it.