Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pressuring Countries on Adoption Can Lead to Trafficking

So says Geoffrey Shannon, the newly appointed chairman of Ireland's Hague Convention Central Authority:
Putting pressure on countries to sign up to adoption agreements could potentially lead to child trafficking, a childcare expert warned yesterday.

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."
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.

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.


Sandy said...

I totally agree and aplaud the individuals (including you) who are willing to take a stand against what is at its most basic cencept a trade of money for human beings.

Anonymous said...

The real world is not as simple as you would like it to be Malinda.

In reality, it's a problem either way, so you cannot follow a binary ethics path as Malinda and the selected references she sites profess.

Any country that is going to launch an intercountry adoption progam with a nation of lesser means AND DOES NOT have an aid program is predatory hypocrisy. That is pure imperial predation in action

At the same time, giving aid as part of an intercountry adoption program creates a pathway for corruption, and requires credible safeguards within both nations.

So this is not about about hague compliance, it is about ethical and empathic interation by the country of greater means with respect to the country of lesser means.

Credible safeguards is the proper intercountry approach, NOT binary ethics.

As for what agencies lobby for, they don't count in my view as they have a commercial conflict of interest in the entire question. So I would have argued with the Holt representative as well, but along entirely different lines to what Malinda chose.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous #1:

The real world is allowing children to be purchased. The real world sucks.

Reena said...

Oh this is interesting. One of the criteria PAP are told to look for in a 'good' IA agency is whether or not they provide humanitarian type of services to that country. I had always heard that agencies that do provide humanitarian aid are better than those that do not.

I do see the conflict at both sides.

'Folks' also point to Romania as an example-- Romania closed to IA and the orphanage facilities have reportedly gone down hill because there is not as much humanitarian aid coming in.

Hmmm-- if it was truly humanitarian aid-- it should not have been so closely tied to adoption because then it seems more like trading children for humanitarian aid-- a nice way of saying buying children.

But-- if one country is going to adopt children from a different country-- then shouldn't there be some kind of obligation to provide humanitarian support to the sending country to help create a future in which the first families are able to provide for their children?

Many 'sending' countries are sending countries due to poverty. Shouldn't there be some kind of responsibility/accountability/obligation for the receiving countries to help alleviate the poverty?

The big trick is finding a way to do this that does not encourage child abduction/traffiking for the purpose of adoption or otherwise.

Lisa said...

I have mixed and not completely disseminated thoughts on this complex & complicated issue, but wanted to add this:

As Reena pointed out, the plight of the Romanian orphan has declined and despite being closed to International adoptions, the number of children residing in orphanages has not diminished...sadly only their conditions have.

But to conclude that the flow of aid was stopped only because adoptions were halted is false.

In truth, the country of Romania has made it extremely difficult for philanthropic organizations to obtain VISA's and travel to bring relief. Some efforts have been made to send only monetary relief, but sadly that often reaches the wrong hands as corruption at the top is rampant.

In fact, the few remaining vestiges of support to those in need in Romania is largely coming from the U.S. in the form of intercountry aid, efforts from religious groups, adoption agencies who continue to support the children of Romania despite no current adoptive programs and mostly from AP's who have a child at home of Romanian descent and who remember with grim clarity the conditions from which they lived day to day.

Please don't confuse the two ~ the aid has decreased but in large part due to Romania's increasingly unwillingness to allow the support in. Or too allow a small degree of oversight with said aid to ensure it reaches those most in need.