Putting the needs of children and families first and acting in culturally appropriate ways that respect the sovereignty of countries are among 21 broadly based recommendations stemming from an inter-country adoption summit held in Stratford.I sure like to see recommendations from a conference chaired by an adopted person, the persons most affected and usually most silenced in adoption.
Conference co-chairperson Robert Ballard, associate chairperson of the speech communication program at the University of Waterloo, urged researchers, government and adoption agency representatives to use them as the basis for further dialogue and action.
Although there was not necessarily even majority agreement on the recommendations, Ballard said there's broad agreement that significant changes are required regarding inter-country adoptions.
Draft recommendations resulting from roundtable discussions include providing better support for birth families, more preparation for adoptive families and giving more attention to histories -- including medical histories -- of children up for adoption.
Consensus from roundtable discussions included a call for improved communication with international agencies such as UNICEF and a suggestion there needs to be longer list of countries-of-origin for adopted children.
Recommendations call on agencies, governments and families to respect the Hague Convention standard even for non- Hague adoptions.
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Summarizing the thrust of the recommendations, Ballard said there needs to be more communication and collaboration among countries as well as "an increased level of trust and respect for cultural differences and sovereignty."
Developed nations have the money and often set the agendas, he said, but need to respect what nations such as Haiti, Vietnam or Ethiopia are doing.
Attention often is given to the adopting families because they are the ones pushing the adoption, he said, but there needs to be better education and support for the birth parents and for adoptees.
Ballard said the UW conference in Stratford is the first he knows of that has brought so many parties together having an interest in adoptions and where the organizer does not have a vested interest.
Ballard was himself adopted from Vietnam in 1975 at the conclusion of the Vietnam War and grew up in the U.S.
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