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Is it ethical to adopt a child from overseas?

There are some moral issues when it comes to Intercountry Adoption. Some of the reasons why there may be an anti-intercountry adoption view include:

  • “That you are robbing a country of its children and the children of their culture and language”;

  • “That you have bought a baby”;

  • “That it is better to leave a child to be brought up in its own race and culture even if it means a lifetime in an institution”;

  • “That adopting a child is putting a band-aid on and ignoring the real problem which is helping a country out of poverty”, and;

  • “That trans-racial adoption can result in a child with a confused identity and racism can result.”

​In many circumstances these are valid statements and any suggestion of intercountry adoption as an option for a child must be considered against the backdrop of these statements.

My argument in this blog supports intercountry adoption as an alternative care arrangement for a child in limited circumstances only when conducted ethically, with full transparency and with the best interests of the child being the paramount consideration.

Ideally there should be no intercountry adoption. Overseas countries should be supported and encouraged to implement a system based on the development of domestic family type solutions for children separated from their family (where such systems are not currently in place). This makes it possible to decrease the need for intercountry adoption.

Unless there are situations where a child’s individual needs may determine that intercountry adoption could be prioritised (e.g. an urgent medical need where relatives are living overseas), intercountry adoption should be a last resort measure when a domestic solution has not been found for the child after every genuine effort has been made to find a domestic solution.

If it is determined that intercountry adoption is in the best interest of the child, there is an international convention (The Hague Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption) that New Zealand is a party to.

By setting out clear procedures and prohibiting improper financial gain, the Convention provides greater security, predictability and transparency for all parties to the adoption, including prospective adoptive parents. The Convention also establishes a system of co-operation between authorities in countries of origin and receiving countries, designed to ensure that intercountry adoption takes place under conditions which help to guarantee the best adoption practices and elimination of abuses.

A further protection is ensuring there is financial transparency. We at 'Compassion for Orphans' seek to only facilitate adoptions with countries that do not charge fees for intercountry adoption. We currently have active programmes with Chile and Thailand. Both of these countries do not charge a fee to process the adoption. This is an important factor in that there is no financial incentive for any party to place the child for intercountry adoption

Ethical Adoption

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