NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 10, 2008

Adopting children overseas is a problematic path to parenthood, says Miller-McCune Magazine.  Often, children put up for adoption live in orphanages, but that is no guarantee they are, in fact, orphans.  In a number of impoverished countries, working parents who are unable to care for their kids use such facilities as low-cost boarding schools.  Some consent to international adoptions, but many, learn to their horror, that their child has a new set of parents on the other side of the world.

In December 2007, the United States joined 70 other nations in ratifying the Hague Convention on Protection of Children, a set of regulations intended to curb unethical adoption practices.  But several nations where child placement is big business have yet to sign on, which effectively means adoption proceedings between those countries and the

United States that were not initiated by April 1 have been frozen. 

Based on reports from two of the nations -- Guatemala and Vietnam -- the timeout is more than warranted:

  • The spring, the American embassy in Vietnam released a report alleging pervasive corruption and baby selling in the country.
  • In July, police arrested the heads of two health centers who allegedly forged birth certificates to facilitate overseas adoptions.
  • In Guatemala, DNA tests indicated a baby about to be adopted by an American couple in July had been kidnapped from her mother 14 months earlier.
  • Experts have long suspected that some of the nearly 5,000 Guatemalan children adopted by Americans each year were stolen and sold to so-called "baby brokers," but this was the first kidnapped child positively identified by the nation's new, mandatory DNA testing.

Does this mean the system is working?  Not really, because even though authorities promise to investigate everyone involved in international adoptions, with big money at stake -- overseas parents pay up to $30,000 to adopt a Guatemalan child -- the potential for corruption remains, says Miller-McCune.

Source: Editorial, "Adopting a New Policy," Miller-McCune, October 2008; based upon: Natalie Cherot, "International Adoptions Struggle for Hollywood Endings," Miller-McCune, January 2, 2008.


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