Ending corruption in international adoption may seem like an obscure and narrow issue, but its implications reach throughout child welfare and development efforts worldwide. What’s the right way to help children after the Haitian earthquake or the Liberian civil war? How can the United States help African AIDS orphans become productive citizens instead of pirates or insurgents? What is international adoption’s correct role in child welfare? The answers are linked. What the United States needs now are improved policies, practices, and regulations that simultaneously help prevent the criminal underside of the adoption trade and support child welfare and protection systems, so that impoverished families and disrupted communities can keep most of their children home. Already in place are a treaty, a law, sets of regulations, and a host of aid efforts on behalf of children. But significant gaps remain. Plugging some important holes—and heightening our investments in, and coordination of, services that help children stay with their families—would go a long way toward saving children from being wrongfully taken from their birth families, and Americans from later discovering that they unwittingly paid someone to buy them a child.
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