The United States, international adoption, The Hague Convention, and child abuse

I was reading an article recently posted by Silent1, and the following statements did indeed make me go very silent:

In January of this year, Guatemala stopped all new adoptions to the U.S. indefinitely because the U.S. is not compliant with the Hague Convention.

There is no entity that oversees the adoptions from beginning to end. Instead, various agencies, such as DCF, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy, assume responsibility for different parts of the process.

The broken-up system has thus become prone to children falling through the cracks, as with Maria Fernanda and her younger sister, Ana Christina. [From:  Oviedo agency faces multiple complaints

According to The US State Department pages, after several ratifications, "The United States is now a full member of the Hague Convention, and its provisions will govern intercountry adoptions between the United States and other Convention member countries beginning April 1, 2008."  If we are follow the words written by the State Department, we have a  (one, single) central authority that oversees all intercountry adoptions.

Beginning April 1, 2008, The Hague Convention will govern intercountry adoptions between the United States and other Convention countries. The major changes to the way intercountry adoptions are processed under the Hague Convention are:

  • The Department of State, designated as the "Central Authority" for the United States under the Hague Convention and the IAA, is responsible for ensuring that the Hague Convention and IAA requirements are followed. 
  • Accrediting entities designated by the Department of State must accredit any U.S. adoption service providers that will handle Convention adoption cases. 
  • The Department of State will maintain a centralized registry to track all adoption cases (both incoming and outgoing cases, in Hague Convention cases and in non-Convention cases), and to receive complaints and comments about accredited adoption service providers involved in Hague Convention cases.
  • Outgoing intercountry adoption cases from the United States to other Hague Convention countries, such as Canada or Mexico, must also comply with the Convention and the IAA.  [From:  "United States Ratifies the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption", Dec 12, 2007, ]

Meanwhile, I don't see any new news articles featuring how the United States government is setting standards for all states and all adoption agencies so child trafficking, abuse, pay-offs and profiting (in international adoption) does not take place.

In fact, it seems to me, sending countries are closing adoption doors to the USA (because of the many flaws found within our own adoption/child protection laws), and this door-closing is making receiving PAP's outraged because they are afraid they will not be able to adopt the child promised made by a certain agent/agency.

Am I the only one really confused by/about America's interests in children from other countries?

Am I the only one who hopes every sending country stops sending their children to a country that refuses to take care of it's own child-placement / parenting problems?

Am I the only one who thinks international adoption has more to do with making money and less to do with a country's need to stop child neglect/abuse?  

[I'm just sick of reading the many abused adoptee cases that feature children from other countries being hurt and abused by Americans... and I often wonder, "How can that be changed?"]


window dressing

By itself the Hague convention doesn't set any standards for the safety of child placement. At best it defines a protocol how intercountry adoptions are being handled. In that sense it is not very different from the administrative component of a trade agreement. The Hague convention prentends to be in the interest of children, but in reality not much comes of that. Intercountry is somewhat better regulated and more transparent by having a central authority and some fixed rules, but that does more to facilitate easier handling of adoption cases in some countries than it does to protect children.

The hague convention lacks oversight. The office of the convention is small and entirely impotent, so everything depends on the willingness of countries and their central authorities to live up to the agreements made in the convention. It's obvious that sending countries like India and China do not live up to those agreements and receiving countries like France, Italy and Spain are not all that eager to do their part either. It's too early to tell how the US is doing with regards to the Hague convention, but given the businesslike nature of adoption, I'm afraid it's not much more than window dressing.

When it comes to living up to the Hague standards, the US faces a more daunting task than most other countries, because of its federalized nature. For intercountry adoption an agency has to be licenced in the state it operates in the first place. On top of that it needs to be accredited by a body appointed by the State Department (Council on Accreditation or DHS Colorado). If an agency fulfills these two obligations it can directly do business with another Hague country. If an agency loses it's accreditation, it doesn't immediately put it out of business though. Therefore it needs its licence revoked. If a state doesn't do that, the agency stays in business and can in principle even continue to do intercountry adoptions by means of an umbrella'ing construction. Umbrella'ing means an unaccredited agency performs intercountry adoptions using the programs of an accredited agency; the accredited agency takes care of the international parts and the unaccredited agency handles the domestic aspects.

So far it's unclear how many agencies have followed the umbrella'ing route. Most of the agencies that sought accreditation and didn't receive it have closed shop. Still there are many agencies that never chose accreditation that still do intercountry adoptions, either with non-hague countries or by means of umbrella'ing. And as long as there are states like Pennsylvania, where the requirements for running an agency are low, or Utah, where the political climate is convoluted with religious business, the federal government will not be able to do much to regulate intercountry adoption. So while the Hague already means little elsewhere in the world, it seems little more than a farce in the US.

Parent-company adoption agencies

So basically, this "umbrella-ing" is one adoption agency protecting another, so business can continue, as usual, regardless of any child-trafficking/kidnapping investigations going on?

(What's the point of signing the Hague agreement, then?)

Realistically, when does Federal Law take precedence over state adoption laws, and what does an adoption agency have to do to get shut-down and put out of the child-selling business?  (Why wouldn't the US want to be unified in terms of adoption laws?)


United States as Sending Country

I am afraid the Hague Convention is just bad news...

Of course we know that the United States was sending (mainly bi-raicial) babies out of the country, through birth-mothers consent, facilitated by US lawyers. However, a new phenomenon is now starting. A Dutch adoption agency now has an agreement with a US agency to adopt children from US foster care. According to Dutch aooption forums the price cost will be equivalent to Chinese adoptions.

Initially countries under the Hague Convention were divided into sending and receiving countries. The US will be both.

The agencies involved in the US/Netherlands Deal:

For the Netherlands: Kind en Toekomst

For the United States:  Illien Adoptions International Inc.

Ship them out????

Are we back in the 1620's when hundreds of "unwanted children" of the state got put on a ship and sent to a New World, and a land of golden opportunity?

<growing sicker by the moment>

When more and more children were found living on the streets of major cities, they too got gathered and were put on so-called "orphan trains" and sold as child slaves to farmers.  Shipping children-out sure seems to be the way a government can rid itself of certain social problems it does not want to face.

After visiting this new "send-the-children-over" website, I got a greater appreciation for the method/madness I saw in a recent article I posted about Ireland sending their foster kids to Boys Town.  [See:  "19 children in State care forced to go abroad"]

Wow... the more things change, the more they stay the same, don't they?!?

Oh how it saddens me deeply when I see history repeating itself!


loop holes

Usually child trafficking and kidnapping takes place in sending countries, outside the working area of adoption agencies. So far, I have heard of only very few agencies directly involved in child trafficking. Of course some know and some keep working with orphanages that have a very dubious reputation. So when an agency has to close it is usually related to adoption fraud, having PAP's pay without rendering services. I have yet to hear of the first agency that had to close because of what they do to children.

The point of signing the Hague is simply because it has become a requirement of sending countries. The US is not all that eager to sign international treaties. With so much opposition against the federal government, international treaties have little chance of being ratified, unless there is no other option. With most of the sending countries having signd the Hague, the US simply had no other choice than to sign it too, even though reluctantly.

With the set up of federal accreditation and state based licencing, the federal laws do not precede state laws, they only supplement. Adoption is still a state related business, only when it comes to intercountry adoption there are several extra requirements that must be met. The federal government has no say in the licencing practices of a state and therefore can not decide what agency stays in business and which has to close. Through accreditation it can be made more difficult for agencies to stay in business, but through umbrella'ing this can be circumvented. So it all comes down to state policies. In that sense the US is not really a country but more a collection of countries that share a foreign policy and an army. So as long as there are states that take a lenient approach to adoption (and there will always be some), adoption will remain to have loop holes.

Family For You, Austria, closed business

It is rare, but it happens. The Austrian agency FAMILY FOR YOU closed business due to a child trafficking case from an Ethiopian child:

"How can that be changed?"

Just like you said:  STOP inter-country adoptions!  STOP the abuse by stopping adoption; period.  I hope it stops.  I would not want another child, OR family to suffer what my family has suffered. 

What did I ever do to deserve this... Teddy

Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, child trafficking

Please check the facts before making or supporting an argument.

1. The correct term is INTERCOUNTRY adoption, as in "The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption" and the "Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000".

2. Adoptions from Guatemala to the US did NOT stop because the US is not in compliance with the Hague Adoption Convention, but because Guatemala is not and never has been in compliance with the Hague Adoption Convention. Despite many years as a Hague signatory, Guatemala has refused to follow Hague guidelines and principles, and has not created an adequate adoption infrastructure which protects the safety and well-being of vulnerable orphans. Instead, Guatemalan intercountry adoption procedures protected the steady income of corrupt judges, lawyers, facilitators, and adoption service providers in both Guatemala and the US. In an effort to either maintain their illicit adoption incomes even at a reduced level or insure the safety of their children, Guatemala suddenly enacted certain practices and fines and court procedures in early 2008, which seriously affected adopting parents but did not equal cutting off adoptions. Don't believe me? Check the website of USCIS, the US agency which administers the immigration part of an intercountry adoption and note for how long they had been voicing their concern about Guatemalan adoptions.

3. Only accredited adoption service providers may handle an adoption in a Hague country. Consult the Federal Register for the implementing regulations of the Intercountry Adoption Act, which took this country 15 years to create from scratch and put into practice. Read through the details of the accreditation process to get a better idea of how your government is working to curb despicable crimes such as baby selling, trafficking in persons, and abuse of adoptees.

4. Illicit adoption and trafficking in persons are not interchangeable terms. "Trafficking" is a specific legal term for a specific crime which rarely applies to illicit adoptions. Trafficking, by definition, requires that a victim be induced into commercial sexual activity or labor through force, fraud or coercion. If a person is not exploited by a trafficker, he or she has not been trafficked. Illicit adoption is only a trafficking situation if the child has been adopted for the purposes of exploitation by, for example, a sexual predator (men are in jail for that right now) or forced labor (usually as a domestic servant). If a child is being adopted into a family to be cared for by that family as they would care for any other child, then the parents are guilty of a number of crimes related to illegal adoption and immigration, and the child is not a victim of a trafficker. No exploitation = no trafficking. Defining the technical terms matters, particularly because these different crimes are prosecuted under different laws. A prosecutor cannot make a trafficking case in court against a baby-buying couple because what they did is not prohibited by the anti-trafficking laws. The parents did not force, defraud or coerce the child into joining their family, so by definition they are not guilty of trafficking.

re: Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, child trafficking

Let me address the issues you raise.

1) Yes indeed the formal term used by the Hague Convention is "intercountry adoption", but the term "international adoption" is very commonly used as an alternative. We could nit pick about the exact differences between the two terms and if the discussions on this website were legal texts it could matter, but the discussions here should be viewed in the discourse of a website not a treaty, where words are used in a more colloquial fashion.

2) The story is a bit more complicated than either the quote used in the article and the observations you make. In the first place it was Guatemala itself that suspended inter-country adoption altogether as of May 6, 2008. Several countries (Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Spain and United Kingdom) had already banned inter-country adoption from Guatemala back in July 2003, when the US was still adopting from Guatemala full-throttle. So despite words of criticism, the USA never actively stopped adoption from Guatemala. It had to be Guatemala itself to do that. The complete suspension of adoption happened in May 2008, but there was an earlier suspension late 2007 (which the quoted article refers to) that related to all non-Hague countries, which included the United States at the time.

3) Only accredited agencies are allowed to do inter-country adoptions with other Hague countries. For non-Hague countries such a requirement does not exist. Agencies operating in Russia, South Korea, Ethiopia, Ukraine, to name a few don't have to be accredited and many are not.

4) Again we could nit pick about definitions, but I tend to agree with the introductory statement on Wikipedia that says:

Exploitation includes forcing children into prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, or the removal of organs. For children exploitation may include also, illicit international adoption, trafficking for early marriage, recruitment as child soldiers, for begging or as athletes (such as child camel jockeys or football players), or for recruitment for cults.

Accordingly illicit international adoption is a form of chid exploitation hence a form of child trafficking. The fact that adoptive parents and most adoption agencies act according to rules and regulations doesn't mean the entire process is completely legal. Constructs as the Hague convention make it all the more easy for parties to seperate the legal from the illegal activities. When child trafficking takes place in for example India, it's CARA's business (not that they do much about it, but that's another story). The US state department as the American central authority is in no way responsible for what happens in India and as a result American agencies and American AP's have clean hands too. All the while children are being trafficked Hague treaty or no Hague treaty.

Illicit Activity

No exploitation = no trafficking. Defining the technical terms matters, particularly because these different crimes are prosecuted under different laws. A prosecutor cannot make a trafficking case in court against a baby-buying couple because what they did is not prohibited by the anti-trafficking laws. The parents did not force, defraud or coerce the child into joining their family, so by definition they are not guilty of trafficking.

From what I understand, in many cases, neither the birth parent nor the child gets to choose who the adoptive parent is going to be.  I don't even think that many AP's can decide what child it is they finally receive.  That final-choice seems to be made by those arranging the adoption.  Meanwhile, adoption agencies will use recruiters to gather more children for adoption purposes. These recruiters are the ones who convince and coerce poverty stricken parents, or young scared mothers, into relinquishment.  And yes, while it's true many parents have no moral objection to selling their children for money, there are indeed many parents who are being deceived by these adoption recruiters, claiming to solve some very serious problems related to poverty.   As a result, many first parents are being led to believe they are sending their children to live in a better region so they can get an education, and be given a world of many new and wonderful opportunities.  Many parents/family members believe they will maintain contact with the child once he or she has been sent away.  Many do not know they will never hear or see their children again.

In some countries, recruiters can be hired by lawyers:

The larger ethical issue has been the role of buscadoras, recruiters hired by Guatemalan adoption lawyers to search for pregnant women willing to relinquish babies, in some cases offering them money. As the demand for babies has grown, so has the power of the buscadoras; to connect a lawyer to a pregnant mother, they demand up to $8,000. Meanwhile, Guatemalan children who have no living parents, who aren't infants or who have special needs constitute only a tiny fraction of completed adoptions.

[From:  The adoption quandry ]

In some countries, (like Guatemala and Ethipoia), recruiters can be workers affiliated with an adoption agency.  See: To catch a baby broker and Fly Away Children

In some countries, "recruiters" work for the government. 

''It's a lie that they took babies away without their parents' permission. That's impossible,'' said Peng Qiuping, a party official and propaganda chief for Zhenyuan. ''These parents agreed that the children should be put up for adoption. They understood that they were greedy and had more children than they could afford.''

[From:  lid lifts on the anguish of China's stolen generation ]

In one reported case, the poor parents were given rice in return for a child!  Rice for a child, so a paying couple can adopt, and a private adoption agency could grow and thrive. 

The babies were from poor Cambodian families. Some were told their children would be sent to boarding schools. Others were told that they would be adopted by U.S. parents who would pay them thousands of dollars.

The families were paid very little -- often only in rice. Galindo made many trips to Cambodia and made $8 million in profits for her company, Seattle International Adoption.

[From:  Adoption Scammer Gets 18 Months in Jail

Exploiting one's poverty for the sake of adoption... can that be considered an illicit activity?  Or do some really see all of this activity as a humanitarian effort, one that benefits everybody?

Meanwhile, while many Aparents may be loving, good and well-screened prior to approval, there are adoption agency workers selling children to parents who have been known to sexually molest children or engage in pedophilia activity.  These are the cases we are now beginning to see, thanks to various news media.  So as much as people want to believe pedophilia / sexual abuse takes place in either first-families or dangerous institutions / orphanages, the general public must begin to see there are indeed foster/adoptive parents engaging in sexual activity with their fostered/adopted children, and filming that activity, for future-use.  These "private" films are being distributed through the internet... and one can only imagine just how much money can be made within the child-porn industry... especially if that activity goes unstopped.    [See:  abuse cases that feature those who have been sexually abused and sexually exploited ]

My question is, if all that illicit activity, combined, isn't an extension of child trafficking, what "correct term" should it be given?

Have fun in hell!

"Illicit adoption is only a trafficking situation if the child has been adopted for the purposes of exploitation by, for example, a sexual predator (men are in jail for that right now) or forced labor (usually as a domestic servant). "

Oh so we now see an industry person poke their head in here to clarify what *they* feel will free them from the crimes they are committing!! (being trained to bend words to bend laws)

Exploitation = Utilization of another person or group for selfish purposes = illegal adoptions!
Wake up industry folks because no matter how you twist the words of your laws to suit your business, others will use those exact words to bring justice forward and send you straight into jail where you belong.

If you forge paperwork, pay off birth families, harvest, lie to adoptive parents and EXPLOIT children for financial gain-- you will pay!

And if you are one of the Christian fanatical "collection/harvesting" agencies then you already know what is waiting for you in the afterlife!

Resilient victims of Religion

I looked with disgust and anger when I saw Good Morning America announce that Jaycee Dugard(kidnapped at 8, and held in captivity for 18 years) donning the cover of People Magazine, smiling saying how happy she was to be home. As Diane Sawyer said "this child is resilient, she is happy and doing great". Several weeks ago Diane reported that this was awful and child psychologist were saying that it was such a tragic event in her life that it would take years for her to recover". "That the press needs to leave her alone, back off, back down, let her be reunited with her family, give her space"

People Magazine, won the exclusive interview, wonder how much money it took? And presto!, Jaycee is healed, and since we all love happy endings People magazine gussied her up on the cover and wrote a wonderful happy story of her last 18 years. Remember she was a mere child, who was abducted, raped, and became a mother of two all before the ripe age of 15. Lest we forget that her perpetrator, 35 plus her senior was a convicted rapist, and married man, who abused her, and kept her living in squalor for 18 years and fathered her children. The abductor, Phillip Garrido, was a registered sex offender and rapist he was arrested he told the press, "you will see, it is a beautiful story of love" " "After she gave birth to my second daughter, I turned my life around". So glad to see that an innocent child could do this for you, JERK.

So I am struggling to find the beauty in this story, of love. A little girl is taken from her family, she misses out on story time, family time, elementary school, middle school, being a freshman, and a senior, graduation, her first kiss, her first car, choosing a college. She, little Jaycee, becomes a bride instead at the age of 8. She had two daughters, and she educates them, with her almost fifth grade education.

Jaycee like Elizabeth Smart are Mormons. Isn't it a wonderful life when your religion tells you that you do not suffer from mental illness. That your happy all the time. That the past is the past and this is now. That we, Mormons strive for perfection and that is done thru a happy state of mind. Buck it up girls. See these girls are able to quickly overcome their abuse because of their religion. Imagine that, a religion that handles your grief for you!
How many times have we read just how resilient these two girls are, even that they have made remarkable recoveries. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE KIDDING. These two girls have been told to squash their emotions. There is going to be two very big train wrecks when these two girls figure out what the rest of the non-Mormon public knows and that is that they have been abused, and lost out on life. That their grief is real and very deep, and that they may never recover. That the nightmares will not go away ever!

I was amused when I saw that Natalie Cole was going to sing this year with the Mormon Tabernacicle Choir.
Poor Natalie will look out and sing and realize that there is no one of color in the audience as they are not allowed positions of leadership in the Mormon church.

This is the song she will sing to Jaycee and Elizabeth.

Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
You'll get by...

If you smile
With your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just...

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just...

Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
You'll get by...

If you smile
Through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile...

That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

Then Natalie might throw in a song for the newly adopted mothers who hired LDS services to force unwed mothers into signing relinquishments, as they look into the eyes of their adopted child.

L is for the way you look at me
O is for the only one I see
V is very, very extraordinary
E is even more than anyone that you adore can
Love is all that I can give to you

All this strong resilient on the part of the victim might just lead to more abuse!!

Definitions of child trafficking

Illicit adoption and trafficking in persons may not be interchangable terms but neither is there one undisputed and internationally accepted defiinition of child trafficking.

David Smolin (Prof Law) gives a much better explanation of the competing interests and difficulty of finding an acceptable definition of child trafficking in his published article "Intercountry Adoption as Child Trafficking", available at  He explains it well in this paragraph...

This preliminary review of both the dictionary meaning of “child trafficking,” and the historical development of international legal norms governing slavery and trafficking, reveals a paradox.  On the one hand, buying children and sending them across national boundaries would seem to meet the dictionary definition of “trafficking in children,” even if done as a part of an adoption.  On a linguistic and intuitive level, buying and selling children would seem to be included in any plausible definition of “child trafficking.”  On the other hand, the various international legal definitions of slavery, practices similar to slavery, and trafficking, seem to generally require something more than the sale of a human being, and that “something more” is not met by sending the child across national boundaries.  These legal definitions of slavery, slavery-like practices, and trafficking seem to require intent or an act harmful to the person enslaved or trafficked.  The victim must be made a slave or servant, subject to forced or exploitative labor, sexually exploited, or involuntarily married.  And generally speaking, the law would not characterize being adopted as a harm, let alone a harm equivalent to these serious forms of exploitation.

IMO the legal definitions are flawed. My kids were taken from their first mother without her knowledge or agreement, sold to an adoption agency and wrongfully presented to a court as being legally relinquished for adoption. I have referred to them as having been trafficked for adoption and I will continue to do so, as anything else is a watering down of the crime that was committed against my children and their first mother.

Pound Pup Legacy