Academic journal article Child Welfare

A Comparison of Adoptive Parents' Perceptions of Their Child's Behavior among Indian Children Adopted to Norway, the United States, and within Country: Implications for Adoption Policy

Academic journal article Child Welfare

A Comparison of Adoptive Parents' Perceptions of Their Child's Behavior among Indian Children Adopted to Norway, the United States, and within Country: Implications for Adoption Policy

Article excerpt

The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children suggests that intercountry adoption be considered as a permanent care option only after other solutions within the child's country of origin have been exhausted. Data from the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) were examined for 478 Indian children ages 4-18 adopted domestically, adopted to Norway, and adopted to the United States. The CBCL has a reported reliability of .9 (Achenbach, 1991; Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1983) and contains five subscales assessing internalizing problems plus a summative Internalizing Scale, and three subscales assessing externalizing problems plus a summative Externalizing Scale. Perceptions of Norwegian, American, and Indian adoptive parents regarding their child's functioning were compared. Children adopted to Norway and the United States were perceived by their parents to be functioning significantly better behaviorally than children adopted within country, while controlling for age of child and gender of adoptive parent completing the CBCL. Policymakers should examine the evidence prioritizing within country adoption over intercountry adoption.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC) and the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect to Intercountry Adoption (The Hague) provide legal frameworks to protect children from wrongful removal from their birth country The Hague is an international agreement between countries that choose to participate in uniform adoption procedures. The CRC is the first legally binding international policy to incorporate the full range of human rights (see http://www.unicef.org/crc/). Article 3.1 of the CRC states that the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration in all actions concerning the child; Article 21 of the CRC requires that any adoption system ensure that the best interests of the child be the paramount consideration when considering adoption as a placement option (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Resolution 44/25,1989). The Best Interests of the Child principle refers to systematically considering the needs and interests of the child in all decisions that affect the child (Zermatten, 2010), although best interests are imprecise and never clearly defined.

The first aim of this study was to examine and compare the perceptions of domestic and intercountry adoptive parents, who had adopted a child from India, regarding their adoptive child's psychosocial functioning as measured by the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). The second aim was to consider the strengths and limitations of these data as systematic evidence to inform policy decisions regarding the best interests of the child in domestic and intercountry adoption.

Policy Issues

Carlson (2010,2011) suggests that the CRC and The Hague disagree over the proper role of intercountry adoption in addressing the needs of children and their families. One aspect of this disagreement is the debate between the terms primary and paramount in decisionmaking about children. Primary consideration has been interpreted, in this context, as demanding adoption for children deprived of a family environment (Carlson, 2010-2011). Paramount has been interpreted to allow decisionmakers to balance the best interests of the child against other primary considerations of the country's own choosing-such as religious, cultural or economic considerations (Lees 6c Wilkie, 1999).

In this context, adoption is one of several suitable placements for children deprived of a family, along with foster care and group care (Carlson, 2010-2011). Carlson suggests that three groups dominate the debate: cynics of intercountry adoption, critics of intercountry adoption, and advocates of intercountry adoption. Cynics decry any endorsement of intercountry adoption. For example, Baroness Nicholson, a former European Parliamentarian, is a prominent advocate against intercountry adoption, tying Romania's entrance into the European Union to eliminating intercountry adoption (Carlson, 2010-2011). …

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