Tuesday, February 21, 2012

International Adoption: The Debate

Two noted legal scholars on adoption, Elizabeth Bartholet and David Smolin, are debating the topic of international adoption in an upcoming book chapter; that chapter is now available here. The abstract describes the debate as follows:
This chapter is taken from a forthcoming book on Intercountry Adoption, edited by Judith L. Gibbons and Karen Smith Robati and forthcoming in June of 2012. The chapter constitutes a debate between Professor Elizabeth Bartholet and Professor David Smolin. Each independently was given three questions to answer, and then one opportunity to respond to the other's answers to those three questions, all with strict space limitations. The debate illustrates some of the starkly different perspectives regarding the law, policies, and facts relevant to intercountry adoption.
The three questions were as follows:
1. From a worldwide perspective, identify basic human rights, core human needs, and best interests of unparented children, those living without family care including those in
institutionalized care.
2. How should we understand the subsidiarity principle of the Hague Convention and how do the expressions of that principle in the CRC and the Convention aid or hinder the best interests of the child?
3. How should the law (and the governments of sending and receiving nations) respond to concerns with child trafficking, corruption, and adoption fraud in the intercountry adoption system?
If you've read the previous writings of these two scholars (I've blogged about some of Bartholet's perspectives here and Smolin's perspectives here), you'll find nothing new in this written debate, but it is fascinating to see in one place their "starkly different perspectives."


Anonymous said...

I don't understand the debate against international adoption. I doubt anyone disagrees that adoption should be the last option (and international adoption the absolute last option) however it should be an option.

malinda said...

It isn't a debate "against" international adoption. The disagreement is about what you take as a given -- that international adoption should be a last resort. Some argue, including Bartholet, that there should be no difference between placing a child domestically and placing a child internationally.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I always read the posts on this site as against international adoption. I may very well be incorrectly interpreting what I read........

I don't believe international adoption is the last resort. I am an advocate of international adoption.
My OWN opinion is if a child can be placed domestically then do so, if not and they can be adopted internationally then do so. I think many of the arguments against international adoption look at the world as it should be not as it is and until it is that way international adoption should be a reality.

My husband and I adopted a "special needs" (I HATE that term) from China two years ago. My husband is Asian and I am Caucasian. I was born with a birth defect (corrected) so we decided that a special need adoption was right for us. Our daughter would not have been adopted in China so domestic adoption was not an option for her.

Reena said...

I am nowhere near as eloquent and thoughtful the blog owner or as so many other folks who post comments.

“there is no persuasive proof that significant adoption abuse is widespread, and that while some illegalities exist in this area, as in all areas of human endeavor, they are far outweighed by the positive impact of international adoption on children as well as
their families and countries of origin.”

“weigh the costs of adoption abuses against the costs of human rights violations to children when they are denied adoption.”

So, we can discount the illegalities because there are fewer of those (at least that are discovered) because there are way too many positives?

Seems a bit callous—can’t her arguments be equated to—the outright kidnapping of one child for adoption is acceptable because without the adoption process, so many more children would die in an institution.

She didn’t actually state her arguments this way—just kind of how it hits my mind.


I didn’t particularly care for the semantics discussion on “unparented children,” although I understand what he is saying.

I like his comments on looking at in-country placement options that are short of permanent adoption versus—IA. I think that is a great idea, although, I am not sure how feasible it would be to effect.

Personally, I think permanent placement in-country should be the preference. I think once a child reaches a certain age (not sure what age) they should be able to say if they want to be adopted internationally or not. I do know of a couple families who tried to adopt an older child from China and when it came down to the "adoption" day, the child changed their mind and the adoption did not occur.

Very helpful to read these two positions in this format. Thanks for the link!