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This House would support international adoption
This House would support international adoption
International adoption is the adoption of foreign children and their subsequent immigration into their adopted parents' home nation. With the on-going media coverage of ill-treated children in Chinese and Romanian orphanages and the increasing numbers of infertile couples in the developed world, proponents of international adoption claim it appears to solve two problems at once. However, recently Romania has stopped all international adoptions amid claims of corruption and human trafficking. Similar stories have clouded adoptions from Guatemala. Despite these difficulties international adoptions by US citizens have tripled in the past 5 years and legislation has been passed to make it easier for these adopted children to obtain citizenship. The numbers of international adoptions now reach as many as 45,000 worldwide. Opponents argue however that some children complain of a feeling of cultural dislocation and reject claims such cases are exceptions to the general sentiment of delight with their new homes and dual identity. The long-term effects of such migrations are hard to predict but many opponents call for more efforts to be made to house children in their country of birth, with proper support for domestic orphanages and adoption schemes.
|Points For||Points Against|
|International adoption reduces the amount of unwanted children in institutional care||Domestic adoption should be prioritized|
|Couples looking to adopt should not be prevented from looking overseas||International adoption leads to the commodification of children|
|International adoption may encourage parents who otherwise would not seek to adopt||International adoption leads to child trafficking|
|International adoption laws are looser than domestic requirements||International adoption fails to encourage states to make provisions for child care, therefore the 'left-behind' children are worse off than previously|
|Internationally-adopted children lose all remnants of culture, family and identity|
Remember to choose a winning argument!
International adoption reduces the amount of unwanted children in institutional care
International adoption provides orphans, often living in decrepit, under-funded and unhygienic environments, a loving home in a developed society. Child welfare experts appreciate that keeping infants in institutional care for extended periods of time puts them at risk of lifelong damage1. Adopting parents are proven to be both financially and emotionally capable of both adopting and raising the child, ensuring that the emotional heartache of growing up in an orphanage is replaced by the stability of a home environment. This is advantageous, for obvious reasons, for both child and parent, whilst the state from which the child is adopted is relieved of the financial pressure of supporting the orphans and the mother of the orphan can reassure herself that her child is being well looked-after. As a Korean government official notes regarding the high adoption rate of Korean children in the United States, 'in the beginning, the only reason foreign adoptions were allowed was that it was so difficult to raise children after the Korean War'2. In times of both financial austerity and societal breakdown, international adoption is a welcome relief, most of all to the unwanted children provided with a loving home and parental attention.
1 Bartholet, E. International Adoption: The Human Rights Position. Global Policy, 2010, p91
2 Chira, S. Babies for Export: And Now the Painful Questions. New York Times 21 April 1998
The proliferation of international adoption encourages parents to alleviate themselves of the responsibility of raising a child, increasing the number of children in institutional care. Parents, for less than admirable reasons, are increasingly giving their children up owing to the interest in international adoption. A study has shown that "the vast majority (96%) of European children in so-called 'orphanages' are not true orphans and have at least one parent, often known to the child welfare authorities"1. Furthermore, the ostensible goal of international adoption to reduce the number of unwanted children does not correlate with the facts. Results from a survey of European Union states in 2008 show that 'countries with high proportions of outgoing international adoptions also had high numbers of young children in institutional care'1. Therefore, far from the positive effects on the adopted children, international adoption only encourages the removal of children from home environments and increases the number in institutions.
1 Chou, S., & Browne, K. The relationship between instititutional care and the international adoption of chidren in Europe. Adoption and Fostering, 2008, pp.41-42
Couples looking to adopt should not be prevented from looking overseas
Couples who have made the decision to adopt a child should not be restricted in their choice to their country of residence. It may be in the state's interest to reduce the number of children in their own institutions, however there is no reason citizens should be straddled with this obligation. We do not prevent our adults from marrying foreign nationals and granting them citizenship; why would we do so for children? Furthermore, if the conditions of the couples' state's institutions are fairly good, they have a strong altruistic motive to adopt from a nation which does not fund its own institutions similarly. Unwanted or orphaned children living in squalid conditions in the developing world should be the priority for couples seeking to adopt, not those living in the local orphanage who, whilst hoping for a permanent home, will not starve. International adoption therefore would provide a small but tangible means of reducing the infant mortality of many of these struggling states.Improve this
Couples seeking to adopt must be restricted to their country of residence in order to prevent the establishment of a market for children needing adoption and the undermining of the immigration system. Most fundamentally however, a citizen is tied not merely to the state but to their other citizens, and they do have an obligation when they seek to adopt to help those children, their fellow citizens, who have yet to find a permanent, loving home and family. Furthermore, if couples seeking to adopt would do so wherever they were needed most, it would encourage developing world states to reduce expenditure in their own child welfare programmes in the knowledge that the developed world would bail them out. Finally, the granting of citizenship to foreign children would undermine the caps of immigration and punish those who have waited patiently for long stretches of time to be permitted to enter the country, work legally and establish their own families.Improve this
International adoption may encourage parents who otherwise would not seek to adopt
Humanitarian crises that lead to a surplus of unwanted or orphaned children can create a groundswell of sympathy which drives parents to wish to adopt internationally. In China, where the one-child policy created unprecedented numbers of girls to adopt, 14,500 were adopted in 20051. However, this number paled in comparison to the clients who were waiting in line hoping to provide a home in an environment where girls were not valued less than their male counterparts1. Furthermore, the effects of wartime also act as instigators for international attention, driving adoption to offset the barbarous effects of the conflict itself. As a report into the adoption of Korean children notes, 'orphans of the Korean and Vietnam war, especially children fathered by American soldiers, were given special humanitarian attention'2. Without international adoption, the likelihood of such children escaping a life in an institution is remote.
1 Graff, E. J. The Lie We Love. Foreign Policy, December 2008:
2 Kim, W. J. International Adoption: A case review of Korean children. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 1995, p.141.
Humanitarian crises which ostensibly drive well-meaning parents to adopt internationally are a myth. The actual supply of children is ultimately driven by demand and corruption; as demand rises for adoption, so too does the price of the process as traffickers are drawn to the money that can be made. As Alexandra Yuster, a senior advisor on child protection with UNICEF, notes, 'it's not really true that there are large numbers of infants with no homes who either will be in institutions or who need inter-country adoption'1. The attentions of those in the developing world should not be to adopt these children, but to encourage the states in which they live to invest in child welfare programs or to initiate aid programs to provide it for them. The proliferation of international adoption serves little other than the greed of traffickers and adoption agencies cashing in on inflated statistics of orphan well-being.
1 Graff, E. J. The Lie We Love. Foreign Policy, December 2008
International adoption laws are looser than domestic requirements
Many parents who desperately want children do not fit the socio-economic requirements to adopt in their own country. Western adoption laws are very difficult to pass through; even though anyone fertile can have naturally born children. Those looking to adopt have to face stringent scrutiny. For example those making less than or equal to 20,000 U.S.D annually have difficulty adopting as they qualify as living below poverty level in the U.S whereas in third/fourth-world countries that same amount qualifies as a decent income1. Furthermore, mothers allowing others to adopt their child are far more likely to pick young couples than older couples who have outlasted their body clock in the search for a child2. Therefore, whilst your local government would argue you have insufficient resources to adopt, you are still able to provide for a child a more comfortable environment than that of an orphanage in his home country.
1 Clark, S., Income Requirements for Domestic Adoption. eHow 2 February 2011:
2 Jacobson, C., Ethnicity. Contemporary Sociology, 2009, pp.425-426.
International adoption laws are looser than many domestic requirements, particularly in the Western world, however this is not an argument in favour of international adoption. Domestic requirements are stringent in order for adopted children to be protected from further stress and heartache. Loose international laws do not protect the child but favour parents whom often do not meet domestic criteria and therefore are potentially a risk, not necessarily to physically harm the child but not to adequately protect and look after them. If adoption is about ensuring that the welfare of the child is always prioritized, couples should avoid international adoption programs that clearly do not put the child's interest first. Domestic programs, with strict criteria, may not permit all couples to adopt; such a response should be reluctantly accepted, not circumvented through international adoption.Improve this
Domestic adoption should be prioritized
The ability to shop around the globe for the ‘perfect’ baby boy or girl reduces the number of families available for children needing adoption domestically. Often these children are older and may suffer from emotional, behaviour or physical difficulties. Wealthy families from the first world also have the ability to price local families out of the adoption market, reducing the chance of children receiving a home in their country of birth. The importance of the link between a child and their country of birth cannot be overstated. As the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child recognises, ‘inter-country adoption may be considered as an alternative means of child’s care…if the child cannot in any suitable manner be cared for in the child’s country of origin’ 1. The market that has sprung up to handle the interest in young, healthy infants in the developing world serves to directly undermine the hopes and aspirations of local orphans and unwanted children.
1. Herrmann & Kasper, International Adoption: The Exploitation of Women and Children, 1992, p.41Improve this
The assumption that those who internationally adopt do so instead of domestically is incorrect. Whilst there might be a small minority who decide not to go through the system most people who internationally adopt do so either because the American system has failed to find them a suitable match or because they have some link to the child/country in question. The United States has the highest level of immigration of any country in the world. These are people who are fleeing what they believe to be a worse life in another country to come live in the US. This bad life which they had in their previous home, is probably had by many of the children in that country as well. Is it that surprising that many people who successfully get citizenship in the US then want to help others escape the poverty that they did? As Elizabeth Bartholet notes, 'preferences for in-country options over international adoption deny or at best delay the adoptive placements that are typically only available abroad'1.
1 Bartholet, E., International Adoption: The Human Rights Position. Global Policy, 2010 p.93.
International adoption leads to the commodification of children
The high fees that western families are willing to pay for international adoptions leads to a commodification of children. In the eyes of both their birth parents and their adoptive parents children become a financial investment rather than a blessing in their own right. This can also be place undue pressure upon a mother unsure about giving up her child. In Guatemala this has reached such great proportions that adoption of babies is thought to generate $100 million for the country each year1. Furthermore, in Sri Lanka between 1976 and 1986, more than 10,000 children were adopted by foreigners; "parents in that country are given small sums by 'adoption agents' to surrender their children" 2. Despite the obvious immorality of such actions, it is also not effective in improving the welfare of the child. As explained, 'it tends to normalize international adoption, reduce the motivation to reform local services for children and inhibit the development of foster care or national adoption'3. The commodification of children suits neither child nor state.
1 The Associated Press. UN finds irregularities in Guatemalan adoptions. Business Week 2 November 2010
2 Herrmann, K. J., & Kasper, B. International Adoption: The Exploitation of Women and Children. Affilia, 45-58. 1992
3 Chou, S., & Browne, K. The relationship between instititutional care and the international adoption of chidren in Europe. Adoption and Fostering, p43. 2008
It is wrong to say that spending money on something immediately leads to its commodification. Often the international adoption process is so expensive because of the amount of bureaucracy that must be overcome, but many agencies are run on a not-for-profit basis. Many adults could not put a price on the value of having a family and this is why they are willing to pay so much, not just for adoption but other avenues for starting a family like IVF. In many countries they are saving children with a bleak future, such as the abandoned female babies of rural China. In these cases the parents have already abandoned their daughter and do not profit from any subsequent adoption.Improve this
International adoption leads to child trafficking
International adoptions are exceptionally hard to regulate leading to accusations of human trafficking in many parts of the world. In some areas babies are stolen from mothers who had no intention of giving them up. In other areas children are promised an adoptive family but instead forced into the sex trade. The demand-driven pressure for adopted children encourages the misguided faith of parents in the system. UNICEF, in a 1999 report, state ‘to meet the demand for children, abuses and trafficking flourish…indeed, a booming trade has grown in the purchase and sale of children in connection with inter-country adoptions’ 1. The British police, upon smashing a Romanian child-trafficking ring in 2010, stated ‘many parents are told by the gang they can earn money if they gave up their child to be taken aboard’ 2. As such, it is patently clear that the demand and lucrativeness of international adoption is driving the exploitation of children and their parents.
1. Chou & Browne, The relationship between instititutional care and the international adoption of chidren in Europe 2008, p.42Improve this
The purported solution, a ban on international adoption, would do no more to reduce the level of child trafficking. While there is always a danger that systems will be abused, pushing adoption underground will not improve the conditions under which it is carried out. If you restrict all the legal channels desperate would-be-parents are more likely to turn to the criminal gangs that currently disrupt the process. Regulation is a far more efficient means of allowing for both the protection of unwanted or orphaned children in the developing world and the assistance of clients seeking to adopt.Improve this
International adoption fails to encourage states to make provisions for child care, therefore the 'left-behind' children are worse off than previously
A thriving international adoption market fails to encourage states to make adequate provisions for children taken into care. In many cases the worse the condition of a children's home, the more sympathy and therefore adoptions will be attracted from first world countries. In Korea, the total budget for child welfare was just 0.06% of the total budget in 1980, due to the government-led system of international adoption that had been established1. In 1988, when this market for Korean children in the United States was exposed by the New York Times, the Korean government was forced to introduce legislation to restrict international adoption and increase their own provisions for child welfare2. Furthermore, the number of unwanted children is inadvertently increased by demand for international adoption; parents, who with state-provided rehabilitation would be capable of raising a child, are not provided with such services due to international demand for the children they give up3.
1 Kim, W. J. International Adoption: A case review of Korean children. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 1995, p143
2 Chira, S. Babies for Export: And Now the Painful Questions. New York Times: 21 April 1988
3 Chou, S., & Browne, K. The relationship between instititutional care and the international adoption of chidren in Europe. Adoption and Fostering, 2008, p41.
Child care in the states concerned is generally improved due to the consciences of those parents who adopt from their institutions. Many adoptees and their families are understandably very concerned about the 'left-behind children'. Often they fund raise in their own country to improve the orphanages they left behind. This serves to highlight the conditions in orphanages around the globe as well as raising funds for their improvement. There is no guarantee that governments would spend money on orphans without this pressure. Furthermore, as the runner of a Salvation Army shelter for unwed mothers in Korea notes, 'what matters most is to give another chance to a girl in distress and despair'; international adoption provides this, using the funding from the adoption process to support the mothers financially1.
1Chira, S. Babies for Export: And Now the Painful Questions. New York Times 21 April 2988
Internationally-adopted children lose all remnants of culture, family and identity
International adoption removes children from the culture into which they were born. Often this causes a sense of dislocation as the child grows older because they do not feel fully a part of their adopted culture nor the culture of the country into which they were born. These feelings can be exacerbated by racial or ethnic distinctions. Implicitly, prospective parents recognize this; 'adopting white parents first want a healthy white infant, a child that is phenotypically similar to them'1. This betrays the understanding, shared widely, that to adopt internationally, particularly a child of a different race, from a vastly different culture, should not be taken from out of that environment. Adoption is about the welfare of the child, a welfare that is best protected by an environment as similar to their 'natural' environment as possible.
1 Jacobson, C. Ethnicity. Contemporary Sociology, 2009, pp.425-426.
Whatever maybe lost culturally is more than made up for by the benefits of growing up in a secure and loving environment rather than an 'institutional' setting. Many parents go to great lengths to learn about the culture of their child's birth country giving the child the advantage of learning about two cultures as it grows up. With the growth of multicultural societies in most countries many children having natural parents from different cultures. This means that mixed identities are increasingly common and do not have to be a source of alienation. As the Dutch researcher Femmie Juffer found, when collating 80 different studies on the self-esteem of adopted children, internationally-adopted children do 'the same as non-adopted children. In the long term cultural differences just didn't turn out to be as problematic as people thought'1.
1 Spiegel, A. Study: Adoption not harmful to child's self-esteem. NPR 23 November 2007
Bartholet, E., International Adoption: The Human Rights Position. Global Policy, 2010, 91-100.
Chou, S., & Browne, K. The relationship between instititutional care and the international adoption of chidren in Europe. Adoption and Fostering, 2008, pp.40-48.
Herrmann, K. J., & Kasper, B. International Adoption: The Exploitation of Women and Children. Affilia, 1992, pp.45-58.
Jacobson, C. Ethnicity. Contemporary Sociology, 2009, pp.425-426.
Kim, W. J. International Adoption: A case review of Korean children. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 1995, pp.141-154.
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