EASTON, Md, August 2, 2011—When I speak to people outside the adoption community, many are incredulous that UNICEF, the very organization that provides so much aid to children worldwide,is behind restricting inter-country adoption. On the surface it just doesn’t make sense. To fully understand what is happening, why countries around the world – from Guatemala to Vietnam to Kyrgyzstan -- are under enormous pressure to reinvent, reduce and, in some cases, end their inter-country adoption programs, you must understand the “why” behind the “what.”
When pressed for reasons why the U.S. Department of State (DoS) and UNICEF they actively engage in closing inter-country adoption programs, the very first response from both entities is that they are protecting children. They say they
are working towards an adoption system that works against child trafficking. That goal is laudable. The safety of children, of course, is paramount and must be the cornerstone of any adoption program. I have yet to meet an adoptive family that believes otherwise. The good news is we all agree. So where’s the problem?
Ultimately UNICEF, and to a lesser extent the Department of State, are opposed to inter-country adoption, calling it a “last resort” for children. Just what is the first resort? UNICEF offers what appears to be a vague notion of social and economic justice in the world. I share their enthusiasm for creating a more just world, and, in my experience, American families who adopt from overseas tend to be more engaged in the issues of economic justice in their children’s birth countries than others. We are natural allies of UNICEF, so what’s going so wrong in relations between many adoptive parents and the
The stumbling block is that unlike UNICEF adoptive parents do not believe that even a single child should be subjected to life as an orphan, serving in effect as collateral damage, as geopolitical solutions to world poverty are played out. To us, it is patently unfair for children to be held hostage, condemned to life without a family, as the world works towards peace and
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