Effects of Institutional Care
The Relationship between Institutional Care and the International Adoption of Children in Europe.
Author: Shihning Chou and Kevin Browne Date: Friday, March 07, 2008
The study explored the link between institutional care for young children and international adoption, using a survey of 33 European countries. Official figures were available from 25 countries on the proportions of national versus international adoption within their own countries, together with the number of children under three in institutional care.
Results indicate an association between international adoption (both incoming and outgoing) and a high number of young children in institutional care.
The evidence suggests that, rather than reduce the number of children in institutions, international adoption may contribute to the continuation of this harmful practice.
A child rights-based approach to providing alternative care for children separated from their parents is proposed. This study was a preliminary attempt to explore the link between international adoption and institutional care for young children.
The evidence does not support the notion that international adoption reduces institutional care. On the contrary, survey data suggest that it may contribute to the continuation of institutional care and the resulting harm to children.
International adoption should be considered only when it is in the best interests of the child as outlined in the United Nations Commission on the Rights of Children. It must be ensured that the child concerned ‘enjoys safeguards and standards equivalent existing in the case of national adoption’ (UNCRC Article 21c), taking ‘all appropriate measures to ensure that in intercountry adoption the placement does not result in improper financial gains for those involved in it’ (UNCRC Article 21d).
There is a pressing need to reform international adoption services so that they cease to operate under a market mechanism and uphold child rights and the interests of children. In the meantime, the study recognizes the importance and necessity of investigating this area objectively and taking an evidence-based approach to practice.