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Children are Priceless

Children are priceless

The large amount of money some people are prepared to pay to adopt a child from abroad creates a powerful market-force that is being met by creating orphanages and recruiting children to fill them.

The link between International Adoption and child trafficking to meet the demand has been well documented over the years. Numerous studies and articles have been written on the subject, like this one, this one and this one. There is even a Wiki page listing past scandals.

Domestic (or in-country) adoption is in many countries virtually free, or at least it is a small fraction of the cost of adopting from abroad. Also, because the adopter and the child being adopted are in the same legal jurisdiction, the instances of corruption are very low.

The market for International Adoption is largely created by people who do not qualify for domestic adoption in the country they live in and think that adopting from abroad is less restrictive, and by those who feel 'called' to adopt a poor orphan or two from Africa or Asia.

Those who campaign against child trafficking are astounded by the seemingly deaf ears and closed eyes of the adopters. How can the noble intention and action of adopting an orphan child from Africa result in something as horrific a child trafficking? Each adopter seems convinced that their adoption process is clean and ethical, while grudgingly admitting that there is corruption all around.

Reform or closure?

Many countries have cracked down on international adoptions in response to allegations of corruption and, in some cases, families being tricked or coerced into giving up their children.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) officials have said the suspension of international adoptions will remain in place until the parliament enacts new legislation reforming the adoption process. Because of the suspension, the U.S Department of State announced on October 6, 2014, that it strongly recommends against adopting from the DRC at this time.

The Government of Ghana has temporarily suspended processing of all adoption cases, including intercountry adoptions, pending Ghana's review of its current adoption procedures.

The list goes on ... Benin has temporarily suspended acceptance of new applications for intercountry adoptions. Kenya is closed until a review of processes has been completed. Rwanda has temporarily suspended new adoptions, and is in the process of putting in place the structures, mechanisms, and tools necessary to implement the Hague Convention. Senegal has announced that it is temporarily suspending all new intercountry adoptions while it focuses on implementing the Hague Convention.

As one country closes down for International Adoption the agencies and fixers move swiftly on to another.

Hague Convention

The Hague Convention on InterCountry Adoption is a guide for the process of adopting a child across national borders (intercountry adoption). It starts by recognising that a child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.

The Convention goes on to remind governments that as a matter of priority, appropriate measures should be taken to enable a child to remain in the care of his or her family of origin, but that intercountry adoption may offer the advantage of a permanent family to a child for whom a suitable family cannot be found in his or her country of origin.

The Convention is a set of guidelines and safeguards (including transparency and reporting requirements) to ensure that intercountry adoptions are made in the best interests of the child and with respect for his or her fundamental rights, and to prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic in children.

Note on the Hague Convention

Adopting the Hague Convention on Protecting Children in Respect of Intercountry Adoption is generally regarded as a step in the right direction to help reduce child trafficking and to remove some of the worst features of unregulated international adoption.

About 90 countries have adopted this Convention, however, much depends on the proper implementation of the processes. Adopting the Hague Convention is meaningless if corruption undermines the integrity of the process.

Here is an interesting analysis of the issues faced by a country implementing the Hague Convention.

Signing Hague Convention: implication and challenges for Korea

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