When There’s No Place Like Home

Children’s advocates can’t agree on how much to emphasize intercountry adoption as a solution. From Newsweek.

UNICEF argues that intercountry adoption is not the only—and certainly not always the best—option for the world’s orphans. Alexandra Yuster,
a senior adviser in the child-protection section, claims the
organization advocates the inclusion of international adoption in the
mix of potential solutions for countries seeking homes for orphaned
children. But it is much more focused on helping birth families get
adequate support from their governments so they can take care of their
own kids. "That’s our priority because that will help a much larger
number of kids—as will promoting domestic adoption," she says. "It’s
not that we’re against intercountry adoption; it’s just not a main
focus for us."

part, that’s because UNICEF fears financial profit is the driving force
behind many intercountry transactions. Because few healthy infants are
available for adoption in Western countries, she says, the amount of
money prospective parents are willing to pay to complete adoptions of
healthy babies has increased. And corruption inevitably follows the
money. UNICEF is especially concerned about poor countries like
Guatemala, where private attorneys largely control the process and
charge upwards of $35,000 per child—almost twice the going rate in
countries like China and Vietnam, where government agencies oversee

That kind of profit margin creates a market
where one didn’t exist before. "We’re concerned with the
commercialization of vulnerable children," says Yuster. "It gives an
incentive to intermediaries to look for the kind of children these
families most want to adopt." Some poor mothers are tricked into
relinquishing healthy babies, while disabled and older children living
in state institutions are left out of the foreign adoption loop because
there’s no profit incentive to match them with families. "Adoption is
supposed to be about finding homes for children, not finding children
for families," she says.


Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

One thought

  1. The comments at the Newsweek site are worth reading, too. Lots of high emotion.
    Alexandra Yuster is trying to say something in this article that everyone should be talking about. It’s really too bad that it gets lost in all shouting.

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