Can we afford to stay in business with China at all cost?

This week the Dutch news program Netwerk presented a story called Chinese orphanages pay for children,  This program got hold of a letter to Dutch parliament written by Dutch minister of justice, Hirsch Ballin, who addressed adoptions from China, after the Dutch department had done an investigation into "irregularities" with regards to adoption from China.

To put it bluntly the investigations were a sham and the response of the Ministery of Justice a meager attempt to explain away the corruptions taking place in the Chinese adoption system. The investigation basically came down to asking the Chinese authorities if they had been naughty, which of course they denied. With that the Dutch ministry was satisfied China was doing all it can to prevent corruption in the adoption system.

Don't take my word for it, just read the ballony the Dutch minister of injustice came up with himself:

Ministry of Justice
The Hague
Netherlands

10 September 2008

Subject: Intercountry adoptions from China

The Chairman of the Second Chamber

On 14 March 2008 I have informed you, with reference to a broadcasting of EO-Netwerk, about intercountry adoption from China. In this broadcasting worrying images were shown of the way in which the People's Republic of China would deal with intercountry adoption. In aforementioned letter I have warned for the drawing of far-reaching conclusions in anticipation of a reaction of the Chinese authorities. During the broadcasting such a reaction lacked. I announced to discuss the concerns with the authorities and for this to send a delegation to China.

A delegation of my ministry has visited beginning of May 2008 the China Centre of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) that falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Civil Affairs. Also discussions were held with representatives of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, the Embassies of France and Spain in Beijing, Save the Children UK in China, Unicef and some individuals working on the field of adoptions in China.

Also a children's home was visited. As a follow up to the discussions a number of additional questions was made up, on which the Dutch embassy had a follow-up meeting with the CCAA on 12 August 2008.

Goal of the discussions was to obtain clarity about the question if in practice the situations as shown by EO-Netwerk's broadcasting are structurally happening, and if intercountry adoptions from China are implemented in accordance with the Hague Convention on Adoption. The discussions were also used to reinforce the ties between the authorities and to discuss together the further improvement of the cooperation in intercountry adoptions. During these discussions a lot of background was obtained which makes it better possible to judge the developments in China.

Anticipating the visit a meeting was organised with some experts and with the adoption agencies who work in China. Also the reporting of EO-Netwerk was put to the Permanent Office of the Hague Conference for Private International Law and contacts were made with the Central authorities of from China receiving countries with the question if they were aware of facts and circumstances that could be of importance for the working visit.

Finally, a study of two American students about the practice of intercountry adoption in China and the US was used. This study points to a number of vulnerabilities in the system and gives recommendations that could also be of importance for The Netherlands.

It concerned a joint initiative of the Dutch and the Flemish authorities and took place between 5 and 9 May 2008. The Central Authority of Flanders, where the EO-Netwerk broadcast was also aired, participated to all meetings. The discussions with CCAA were done separately, which gave the Flemish Central authority the opportunity to raise additional questions during the second discussion, making use of the discussions held in the mean time with other organisations. The visits were actively supported by the mutual embassies. At the discussions with the Chinese authorities has been participated by the accredited minister from the Netherlands in China and by the consul of Belgium.

The discussions took place in an open ambiance. CCAA appeared to have studied the broadcasting of EO-Netwerk intensively and had reacted as well as in writing before the visit, also during the visit. During the visit also the aforementioned American study was brought to the attention of the CCAA.

Findings

The Hague Adoption Convention has the following principles:
1. The mother who relinquishes the child for adoption must have done so voluntarily and after the birth of the child (according to an established procedure);
2. None of the concerned may have had the intention to make a profit; the payment of costs made is allowed;
3. First a solution needs to be found in the surroundings of the child, respectively i hte country of origin, before intercountry adoption can get into the picture (the principle of subsidiarity)

These principle must guarantee that international adoption takes place in an integer manner in which the interest of the child constitutes the first consideration. The findings of the Delegation are explained according to these principles.

Ad. 1: the manner of relinquishment

It is in the interest of children that they, if possible are raised by their own parents. If parents nevertheless relinquish their child it must be clear that they do so voluntarily. There may not have been any improper pressure on them.
The children who are made available for adoption are according to the Chinese authorities almost all children relinquished by their parents by leaving the child as foundling. This is being said to be the result of the 'one-child-policy'. The Government has, with as objective to control the population growth, an active form of 'Family Planning'. Parents in cities are in principle only allowed to bring one child into the world on punishment of often severe sanctions. In the countryside there is a more lenient rule. A second child is allowed if the first child is a girl. Especially girls and children with a deficiency are placed as foundling. Tradition and the fact that boys support their parents work in the disadvantage of girls. The last years the rules concerning the one-child-policy have been somewhat eased.

Children with a deficiency (so-called special needs children) are furthermore placed as foundling as parents cannot carry the costs of care. As far as adequate medical treatment is offered, the costs are not or not fully covered by the government or an insurance system.

The relinquishment is mostly the result of need. According to the Chinese authorities there is, however, no pressure to relinquish children, also not in the framework of the one-child-policy.

The relinquishment of children is punishable by law. The authorities do not take children away from parents in view of the one-child-policy, this was ensured to the Delegation [Dutch sic.] This has also been confirmed by other speaking partners.

In order to exclude that parents did not voluntarily relinquish and are possibly still looking for their children there is always an investigation into the place of origin of the child and data considering the finder and the circumstances in which the child was found are registered. Also an advert is placed during in a provincial newspaper during which parents have 60 days to react. In practice parents to not react to that.

Ad. 2. No intention of profit

The making of profit is generally considered unethical. In Western countries, and by now also in China itself, there is a large demand for adoptable children while the offer worldwide, also in China, is declining. There is therefore a risk that despite the prohibition money or other favours are offered to get children for adoption. The Hague Adoption Convention explicitly prohibits the making of profit by anyone involved in adoptions. Reimburse costs and donations to children's homes are allowed. Donations are usually for the benefit of children in the children's homes that do not qualify for intercountry adoption.

In China the payment for children is in principle prohibited. The government has set up rules for the hight of donations and the use of these. The provincial authorities are monitoring this use.

Ad. 3 Preference for care in own environment

The Hague Adoption Treaty stipulates that a child is in principle better of with care in the own environment, than abroad. Before a foreign adoption is considered, therefore first a solution needs to be sought in the country itself.
During recent years the number of international adoptions from China increased substantially. The amount was mostly dedicated to the one-child-policy. Nevertheless the impression arose that the Chinese authorities gave insufficient priority to the promotion of national adoptions. In the recent period the number of national adoptions has however strongly increased. The rules to adopt a child have become more flexible and in China more people can afford to adopt a child. Also policy is and will be developed to allow children more and more to be placed in Chinese foster families. The number of children that is offered for intercountry adoption has because of that strongly decreased. Only the number of 'special needs' foundlings that become available for intercountry adoption is still high. The Chinese authorities started some years ago with a major project, the 'Tomorrow Plan'. The goal of this project is to collect money for correctional surgery for 30.000 children in the whole of China. CCAA now gives priority to the intercountry placement of these children with adoptive families. The impression exists that with this the offering of healthy children is consciously hampered. The expectation is that in the coming years the offer of healthy children from China will further decrease. With increasing prosperity this will possibly also count for 'special needs' children. For the moment for this group of children there is however still a large need for intercountry adoption.

Vulnerable

The legislation and the policy of the Central Authority in China is, as far as could be established during the meetings, in accordance with the Hague Adoption Treaty.
The 'one-child-policy' puts a heavy price on the Chinese population, but enforcement to relinquish a child is according to the Central authority not the case. The payment for children is in principle prohibited. There is more and more space for national adoption and placement in foster care in China. That is a positive development. Further improvement seems possible by better aligning the systems of national and intercountry adoptions. Still also then the system shows to be vulnerable.

Many homes are in poor regions, where according to our standards small payments can be of big meaning. In aforementioned American study it is noted that children's homes have great interest in the donations of foreign adoptive parents. It could lead them to tempt Chinese parents to place their children in their home, in stead of foster care placement or to promote national adoption or – even worse – instead of raising the child themselves. Also, children could become more often the victims of kidnappers who take children for profit from their parents to offer them to children's homes. It is of importance that the Chinese authorities are aware of this and where necessary react strongly against such practices. The scandal in the province Hunan where the programme of EO-Netwerk dealt with extensively, shows that the authorities do so. Still, on a regular basis possible new irregularities show up. Also a delegation of the Association Wereldkinderen who beginning of July visited China, pointed this out to me. So it is important that CCAA remains alert on possible irregularities and acts convincingly when rules are overstepped. CCAA has shown during the meetings in May to be aware of this importance. CCAA acknowledges that in practice the giving of a certain amount to the finder of a child as reward for the fact that he or she brought the child to the Children's Home, does happen. It concerns, according to the Chinese authorities, mainly symbolic amounts. Also it happens, like in other countries, that the finder is reimbursed for travel, care or medical costs. About the admissibility of such payments there are in China different interpretations. CCAA is of the opinion that in no case many may be paid to finders. For this reason CCAA has started recently a campaign to create awareness that anyone who brings in a foundling will need to involve the local police, instead of bringing the child to a children's home.

CCAA indicated in this meeting also that it could agree to many of the recommendations of the American study. According to CCAA on many points actions have already been taken, for example on the issue of the improvement of control mechanisms, the promotion of national adoption and the substantial increase of government financing of children's homes.

CCAA also showed awareness to the importance to document as good as possible the origin of children. The files that were shown gave a professional impression. Also the Chinese side showed to be prepared to accompany children in their request to see their adoption file when in the interest of their personal development.

In the framework of increased transparency the possibility was also raised to promote the legal relinquishment of children. In this case the data on the parents are known and it can be established with great certainty that the relinquishment was done in total freedom. CCAA was not unwilling to this idea, announced that discussions on this are going on in China also and that they are looking at the situation in other countries. CCAA, however, indicated that China for the moment is not ready to legalise relinquishment.

Reaction to the EO-Netwerk programme

With letter of 7 April 2008 the CCAA announced to have taken note of the content of the EO-Netwerk documentary about adoption from the province Hunan, which was broadcast on Dutch television on 11 March 2008. The authorities reacted as follows on the situation as shown during the broadcasting.

1. In case of adoption via the Shaoyang Social Welfare Institute in all cases the legal procedures for adoption were followed as in force in China, whereby the Public Security Bureau traced the natural parents and public announcements were made, and in case the natural parents could not be found, according to procedures agreement at all levels was gotten before adoptions were started.

2. Concerning the news in the Dutch media that the too many born babies (reference to one-child-policy) were taken by local officials and subsequently offered to foreigner for adoption: according to research it was found that this news is not in accordance with the facts. Fact is that the citizens of Gaoping Village, Longhu county of the commune Shaoyang had illegally adopted twelve foundlings and one child from a non married couple. According to the Chinese adoption law these families did not fulfil the conditions for adoption. In order to protect the interest of the children, the families concerned have, according to the law and after agreement with the families involved, transferred the guardianship of the by them illegally adopted foundlings voluntarily to the state. In the case of the child of the non-married couple, it appeared that the biological mother left for unknown destination, and the family of the biological father appeared not to be (financially) able to care for the child and he agreed voluntarily that he child will be cared for by the State. The child still lives in the Shaoyang Social Welfare Institute.

It is not so that the local officials with force take so-called too many born baby's from their parents to offer them subsequently to foreigners for adoption. Of the above mentioned children none has been adopted by Dutch families. The news that from twins one child would have been taken by force and transferred to the orphanage, is not based on the truth. In China it is not against the one-child-policy to have twins or multiple children, and poor families who get multiple births can request financial support form the State.

From the before it may be clear that the reading of Netwerk on important points differs from that of the Chinese authorities.

Conclusion

Iin case of adoptions from Treaty countries, the responsibility for the control of the question if the prerequisites of the Hague Adoption Convention are fulfilled, rests with the competent authorities in the country of origin. That means that the cooperating countries in intercountry adoption are highly dependent on mutual trust. In my reaction to the report of Mr. Oosting about adoptions from India of 7 November 2007 (Second Chamber 2007-2008, 31265, nr. 1) I discussed this extensively. Also for China counts that I have to be able to trust on the integer manner the Chinese authorities implement the principles of the Hague Convention. The Netherlands can let themselves be informed by the Chinese authorities and if irregularities appear they can ask for clarification and if necessary insist on measures to be taken.

The meetings with the Chinese authorities and other named institutions, organisations and person in China enable me to create a reasonable image of the policy followed on intercountry adoption in China. According to the report of the delegation and on the bass of what was discussed on 12 August, the legislation in China is in accordance with the principles of the Hague Convention and the authorities in Beijing are making the necessary efforts to have adoptions from China done in accordance with the Hague Convention. This is also the view of the other speaking partners and colleague Central Authorities. The authorities, moreover, show to be open to possible shortcomings. In the discussions that the delegation had with organisations outside the government in China and in contacts with other foreign Central Authorities that image has been confirmed. They point to the fact that Chinese authorities are making much progress and are open to advise of foreign organisations and authorities. The discussion the delegation had does not allow, however, to express opinions on the way the policy is implemented at provincial level. The situation differs from province to province. With a certain regularity cases come up that indicate an insufficient implementations of the rules in certain provinces of the People's Republic. These are worrying sounds. According to the authorities the rules are implemented as they should be by the provinces. They acknowledge however that in practice irregularities took place and my continue to take place when persons (criminals) consciously bypass the regulations. When such behaviour comes to light strong actions are taken. The way authorities acted at the time as a result of irregularities in Hunan confirms this.

UNICEF staff with whom the delegation spoke in China points out that in their view it concerns exceptions and it would regret if because of these one would not see the structural improvements. The reporting about the way in which CCAA is dealing with the children who lost their parents due to the recent earthquake is in this matter a reason for trust.

Also where it concerns the addressing of trade in children – which happens in China, but according to UNICEF relatively not on big scale – there is progress. China has a population of 1.3 billion people. Compared with this the number of incidents, however serious these each as such may be, is extremely modest. Also the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference for International Private Law points to that. News from the Chinese media about the active persecution of baby-traders in the Province Yunnan makes clear that it hereby does not stay with just words.

The worrying sounds about the practice of payment by homes, especially the news of the ABC-news of May this years, I have brought to the attention of the CCAA.
CCAA has taken the incident in Hunan at the time as occasion to convince all Child Welfare Institutes and Social Welfare institutes from where children are adopted that payments for children are prohibited. The news reporting of ABC-news calls for the question if that approach was sufficient. That is from the Netherlands of course difficult to conclude. Save the Children UK has told the delegation that if payments would be something that happened often, this should have been known to this organisation. That appeared not the case. Save the Children and UNICEF have committed to the delegation that they would inform the Dutch Embassy in case they are confronted with signals of payment. The fact that CCAA in the conversation acknowledges that the interpretation of certain rules in practice differ, has shown conciousness that payment incidentally happens and sets up a countrywide campaign to make clear that payments are not authorised, makes clear the the Chinese authorities acknowledge these problems and are not getting away from their responsibility.

Overseeing the whole I conclude that there is no reason to reconsider the currently existing adoption relation between the Netherlands and the People's Republic of China. It is, however, important to continue to follow development in China and improvements made by the authorities. For this I consider a reinforcing of the cooperation between the Netherlands and China the way to go. The importance of more frequent contact was also subscribed to by CCAA and again confirmed in the meeting hat took place on 12 August 2008. This fits into my intention to intensify international contacts surrounding intercountry adoption. For this goal, as of 1 September 2008, a special advisor for international cooperation in intercountry adoption has been appointed at the Central authority who will take care of improvement of the information position in ensuring the rules of the Hague Adoption Treaty.

It speaks for itself, that the risk of incidental irregularities at provincial level, as lined out before, require continuous alertness and the critical following of adoption, as well from the side of the Central authority and the Dutch diplomatic representation in China, as well as from the side of the adoption agencies who mediate the placement of children from China.

As indicated before, it is in the interest of the children that irregularities in procedures are prevented as much as possible, and fought. I am of the opinion that there is also a responsibility at the Dutch side and consider it important that, if there are indications of ongoing irregularities, in all cases immediately these will be brought to the attention of the Chinese authorities. In case there would be new developments in the relation with the Chinese authorities that would require a change of my in position as outlined in this letter, then I will inform the Chamber about this immediately. In this way I mean to do justice to the joint interest to have adoptions done in an integer manner, in the interest of the children.

The Minister of Justice

Brian Stuy wrote a more elaborate analysis in a post called Dutch Report on Trafficking in China.

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Boycott is death blow for adoption

The below is an unofficial translation of an article that appeared in the Dutch newspaper De Trouw. It hits the nail on the head:

Boycott is death blow for adoption

Child trafficking can not be excluded in adoptions from China. Should The Netherlands therefore stop the adoption of Chinese children?

The purchase (or selling) of children is prohibited, even in China, but it is probably happening there anyway. That concludes Minister Hirsch Ballin in a letter that he yesterday sent to the Lower House. The reason for the letter was a broadcast of "Network" in March, about Chinese children who might have been kidnapped and traded.

The Chinese adoption system is "vulnerable", recognizes the minister. Because many children's homes are in poor regions, and because 'finders' receive for a baby often relatively high' expenses'. Abuses like kidnapping and child trade can not excluded.

With his critically tuned letter the Minister shows to be aware of the risks that stick to the adoption of Chinese children. Yet he sees no reason to stop adoptions from China.

Because the Chinese Adoption Auhtority CCAA is doing its best, as reasons Hirsch Ballin, in order to combat illegal practices. Moreover, China is a huge country with 1.3 billion inhabitants: "In comparison, the number of incidents, how serious it is each one on itslef may be, is extremely modest."

Whether the latter is true, remains to be seen. The American researcher Brian Stuy, who has bitten himself into the Chinese adoption practices, concludes in a recent report that there was "substantial corruption" and that overzealous government officials take children away in the context of the one-child policy.

Stuy also claims that poor parents are put under pressure to give their children. And that Chinese orphanage directors prefer foreign adoptive parents, because that brings more money than domestic ones. According to the researcher fifty percent of the children who are adopted abroad, come from homes that offer money for children.

On what scale China is exactly cheating with the Hague Adoption Treaty, which shoud exclude trade and profit must, is not so easy to establish. Not by the CCAA, not by the Dutch government, not by individual researchers. The question is thus whether in adoptions it is allowed to have the risk,  however small, that he the child in question was not voluntarily abandoned by the parents.

Hirsch Ballin answers that question with 'yes', which is also understandable. Even though the number of Chinese adopted children in recent years decreased, in 2007 still almost half of the children for adoption to The Netherlands came from China (365 of 782). A boycott of Chinese children would almost be the death blow for adoption in the Netherlands.

In his considerations, the Minister presumably taken into account that there are currently 'special needs' children from China. These are children who, for example because of a disability, need extra care and who have in China itself limited opportunities. According to Ina Hut, director of Wereldkinderen, these children are simply "dumped" and it is excluded  that has been paid for these children.

About a boycott of healthy adoptable children from China, the superpower might get so outraged that the Netherlands may not get special-needs children anymore either. A severe 'no' to China affects threfore on short short-term in particular an already vulnerable group.

But by continueing to adopt from China and similar countries, The Netherlands helps maintaining an adoption system that does not exclude corruption and possibly even encourages it, as reasons researcher Stuy.

Also Dutch adoption as Wereldkinderen are left with a difficult issue. Hirsch Ballin has passed the responsibility to them: they must now decide whether they continue with adoption of (healthy) children from China.

© Trouw 2008, this article is based on copyright.
http://www.trouw.nl/nieuws/onderwijs/article1849993.ece

Is China all that exclusive?

Given what PPL has posted about India, Cambodia and Africa, (just to name a few), I don't think the China child placement industry is all that solitary in practice.

poor parents are put under pressure to give their children. And that Chinese orphanage directors prefer foreign adoptive parents, because that brings more money than domestic ones. According to the researcher fifty percent of the children who are adopted abroad, come from homes that offer money for children.

The hard-core question is not about boycotting adoptions altogether.  The question we must start asking is:  How many PAP's are willing to limit their parenting interests to the children in their own countries?!? 

European Paps can hardly go to their countries

The difference between US and Europe is that we have hardly adoptable children here. Families can foster a child, get guardianship - but the child does not become YOUR child.  In the Netherlands for example there are no more than 50 children per year that get adopted (relinguished at birth, step parent adoption mainly).
But there are 6000 couples waiting....

Waiting for what?

Do you mean to tell me there are 6000 couples wanting to take a child in their homes, ONLY if they can become the only (legally recognized) parents that child has or knows?  

It seems adoption is more about appeasing the adult need to be seen and titled "parent" than it is about securing safe placement for a child who has no place or people to call "home" and "family".

A dear friend of mine told me stories about the Children's Home he lived in for a few years, and I completely agree with his thoughts on his own final placement.  In essence he told me, "I'd much rather have been kept in that Children's Home, than be taken where I was abused and beaten by a step-parent."

yes, just to become 'parents'

Yes, the 6000 Dutch couples /persons want to become parents. There is even a long waitint list for children in need of fostercare placement (even for babies). 

Every country has its own story

In all honesty I think the hard core question is: what is wrong with the sending countries. Just like international adoption only revolves around a handful of receiving countries, it also revolves around only a small number of sending countries and unless we look at the specific circumstances in each of these countries the problems won't go away.

Here is a list of all sending countries that sent more than 250 children in 2007:

China 7390
Guatemala 4797
Russian Federation 4196
Ethiopia 2527
Vietnam 1464
Ukraine 1419
Colombia 1417
Korea, South 1068
India 844
Kazakhstan 684
Haiti 629
Brazil 470
Philippines 347
Liberia 315
Poland 311
Thailand 300

It's a list of only sixteen countries, about the same number as the countries on the receiving end of international adoption. Furthermore it is interesting to note that the top 4 countries in this list send twice as many children as the following 12, which all the more demonstrates international adoption revolves around only a few countries.

In a sense every of these countries is exceptional in its own right.

China is alone responsible for more than 20% of all international adoptions, while it is the fourth economy in the world. They have the money to take care of their own children. The cost for one tall building in Shanghai is more than the money needed to take care of each of these 7000 children for 18 years. Of course China rather builds another tall building in Shanghai than take care of their own and with the fees received with adoption they have a nice down payment for another one. Not only is China rich enough to take care of its own problems, it is also the least transparent of all countries involved in international adoption. Unicef, when asked about international adoption in China refers to the media, because they know more than Unicef is able to find out.

Guatemala is by now blantantly known as a country where internation adoption revolved around child trafficking. Economically, geographically and  socially Guatemala is not all that different from let's say Honduras, but had 1600 times more adoptions than their neighbor in 2007.

Russia, like China, is not a dirt poor country, but has huge social problems combined with very low birth rates. It's not to the rest of the world to take in Russia's children, because the Russians rather spend their money on fighting Chechnya, Georgia and Uzbekistan.

Ethiopia, is the first really poor country in the list and together with Liberia the only two out of the sixteen that is really really dirt poor. Still, in the period 2000-2003, when Ethiopia was just as poor as it was now, the number of adoptions from that country were between 300 and 400 annually. All of a sudden in 2004 we see a huge boom in adoptions from Ethiopia. The main factor here is that the country can't defend itself to the rich adoption agencies starting programs in that country and it's politically too divided to change their lax regulations.

I could write more about the other countries, but leave it at this for now.

Add Lithuania

It interesting to add to the adoption figures, the population.

I'd like to add Lithuania to the list: at 3.3662 million people and 148 international adoptions (74 to Italy).

I know that is not 350 adoptions, but the country is tiny... And the figure si likely to go up.

http://www.ivaikinimas.lt/index.php?n=123&l=LT

Business, as usual

Bottom line, international adoption has become little more than any other other  import/export business out there.  Prices are based on market value, which is determined by supply and demand. 

Now, I am not at all good with economics, but common sense dictates less money spent and more money earned/gained is the way to greater personal wealth.

It does not at all surprise me children have become items of trade.  It simply disgusts me that many people think this practice is perfectly acceptable.

In all seriousness, what sort of motivation is there to improve the conditions found in state-run orphanages if the state can find foreigners to come and take the little children who have become little more than waiting inventory?  Orphanages can sell children "as is" to foreigners, and charge much more for doing so.

Who wins?  Those who don't have to pay for "extra services", and those who are selling products/services to desperate wealthy people.  [Wealth being a relative term/description when you compare it to another country's definition of "poverty".]

correct - it does not improve orphanages

Correct, this is the saddest of all. Intercountry adoption indeed takes the incentive away to improve residential care, or even to support families. Foreign adoption agencies love to create small top of the bill orphanages, but only to guarantee a better product  for their clients.  

Stop adoption from Olympic countries!!!

You are absolutely right in your assessment. International adoption does not improve the situation in the sending countries.

International adoption even deteriorates the conditions in sending countries. In the first place it has a honeypot effect. Under the impression that international adoption is in the best interest of their children, poor families abandon their children in the hope they will be adopted abroad. In all countries with international adoption, we see the number of abandonment grow, so instead of getting children out of orphanages, international adoption helps to fill the orphanages.

The honeypot effect has its limits and once adoption programs become more succesful, the more the influx of new children must be generated by criminal activities. The dramatic consequences of which we have seen in for example Guatemala and Cambodia and I believe Ethiopia is already in the danger zone now. Adoption from that country has increased by a factor 8 in the last five years a growth spurt not even seen in Guatemala or Romania in their "hey days".

Another effect we see is that money breeds money. Those orphanages that do international adoption, receive money from donations made by adoptive parents. With that money they can start projects to improve their organization and do fundraising for more money. That way, money that would otherwise have gone to orphanages that don't do international adoption is now funneled towards the ones that do. The net effect is an overall deterioration of services.

Adoption doesn't give any incentives to improve family preservation, foster care or domestic adoption and is one the most important contributing factors in sustaining the situation.

Look at South Korea. The western world has adopted children from there for more than fifty years now. In those years the country has become rich and by now is almost on equal footing with many European countries, yet they still send more than 1000 children each year abroad. Can South Korea not afford to take care of their own? Sure they can. With that country it is not a question of money, but of social acceptance. South Korean adoptions are based upon a culture of shame and the entire adoption system helps Korea sustain that culture of shame. South Korea should bite the bullet and solve their own problems, just like China and Russia.

If you have the means to organize the Olympic Games you have the means to take care of your own children.

Pound Pup Legacy