Putting pressure on countries to sign up to adoption agreements could potentially lead to child trafficking, a childcare expert warned yesterday.Australia takes the same position that a country cannot tie humanitarian aid and adoption together, having suspended adoption with Ethiopia because the Ethiopian government requested that the Australian government provide community development aid as a condition to continue adoption placements to Australia.
Geoffrey Shannon, the chairman of the new Adoption Authority of Ireland, yesterday stressed that it was "hugely important" to avoid any links between humanitarian aid agreements and payments in the adoption of children from other regions.
The first major overhaul since adoptions began in Ireland in 1953 saw the appointment yesterday of the new seven-member board and the long-awaited ratification of the Hague Convention.
* * *
Mr Shannon stressed the importance of a "clear demarcation line" between humanitarian aid and adoptions.
"Putting pressure on jurisdictions to enter into agreement is actually contrary to the spirit of Hague," the special rapporteur on child protection said.
"What we should not forget is that where we put pressure on jurisdictions to enter into agreements that has the potential to lead to child trafficking."
I had a huge disagreement with Susan Soon-Keum Cox of Holt Adoption Agency on this point during discussion of the Hague Convention at the St. John's Conference on Adoption last month. She feels not just that such agreements are allowed under the Hague Convention, but that countries should require countries and agencies to provide humanitarian assistance in order to be licensed to do international adoptions in their countries. She sees it as "giving back" to those countries. I see it as cash for kids, and clearly violative of the Hague Convention. Yes, I think countries and agencies should give humanitarian assistance, and I certainly admire the scope and depth of Holt's humanitarian programs in the countries from which it places children, but for a sending country to make it a condition of placing children is a problem, in my opinion. I also see it as coercive for a receiving country to condition their humanitarian aid on the sending country sending them children.