Sunday, September 26, 2010
Nice article highlighting a few flaws of the Hague convention on inter-country adoption:
Two years ago this month, the US and Vietnam let lapse the three-year bilateral agreement that allowed Americans to adopt Vietnamese children. The US embassy in Hanoi had concluded that "the overwhelming majority" of infant adoptions from Vietnam involved fraud: at best, falsified official documents; and at worst, defrauded, coerced or paid-off birth families who had not consented to sending their children abroad for adoption. All told, 2,200 Vietnamese-born children were adopted to the US during that period, according to the state department; approximately another 2,000 were adopted to France, 950 to Italy, 475 to Ireland, and 250 to Sweden.
The 2008 US-Vietnam closure was one in a long, stuttering series of crises in international adoption. In "Anatomy of an Adoption Crisis" in Foreign Policy Online, I analyse hundreds of pages of often shocking internal US state department documents (received under Freedom of Information Act requests) discussing that adoption crisis. These documents show how determined the US embassy in Hanoi was to block fraudulent or corrupt adoptions – and how little power it had to do so, both in Vietnam, and in other countries that have had similar crises, such as Cambodia, Guatemala, Nepal and Romania.
Why? Fifteen years after 66 countries negotiated the 1993 Hague convention on inter-country adoption, why couldn't the US state department screen out the "bad" adoptions and continue the "good" ones? The Hague adoption convention was supposed to streamline the adoption of children who legitimately needed new homes, and "prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic in children" for adoption by policing "improper financial gain".
But loopholes plague the Hague convention. The biggest one: technically, Hague protections need apply only to adoptions in which both countries have already ratified and implemented the convention. In the US, that means that adoption agencies must be screened and accredited by a national body before they may arrange adoptions from, or to, other Hague countries. But unaccredited agencies are still free to work in the "non-Hague" nations (presumably, the least prepared to police unsavoury practices). As a result, families adopting from such Hague signatories as China, Colombia or Thailand can rely on two different nations' governmental oversight. But that family has no such protections if it tries to adopt from such non-Hague countries as Ethiopia or Nepal, both rife with troubling allegations about their adoptions.
Read the full article here for identification of additional loopholes and suggestsions on how they might be fixed.