Regulating Corruption in Intercountry Adoption

By Bunn, Jordan | Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, May 2019 | Go to article overview

Regulating Corruption in Intercountry Adoption


Bunn, Jordan, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


TABLE OF CONTENTS  I.    INTRODUCTION                                       686 II.   THE RISE OF INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION AND THE       INTERNATIONAL ATTEMPTS TO REGULATE IT              688       A. A Brief History of Intercountry Adoption        688       B. International Agreements Addressing          Intercountry Adoption                           690          1. The United Nations Convention on the             Rights of the Child                          692          2. The UN Optional Protocol on the             Convention for the Rights of the Child on             the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution             and Child Pornography                        693          3. The Hague Convention on Protection of             Children and Cooperation in Respect of             Intercountry Adoption                        694 III.  THE CURRENT STATE OF INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION AND       THE NEED FOR REFORM                                697       A. The Guatemalan Adoption Crisis                  700       B. Troubles with Ethiopian Intercountry Adoption   702          1. When and to What Extent Ethiopian             Intercountry Adoption Was Compromised.       702          2. The International Response to Ethiopia's             Adoption Problems                            705          3. Recent Developments in Ethiopia              706 IV.   WHY THE CURRENT LEGAL FRAMEWORK FALLS SHORT       OF PREVENTING THESE CRISES                         709       A. The Imbalance of Resources and Obligations          Between Sending and Receiving States            709       B. The Role of Private Adoption Agencies in          Intercountry Adoption                           711       C. Existing Policy Proposals                       713          1. Full Moratoria                               713          2. The "Aid Rule"                               714          3. A Global Effort to Regulate Intercountry             Adoption                                     716             a. A Global Assistance Fund                  716             b. A Global Intercountry Adoption                Oversight Body                            717 V.    RECOMMENDATIONS TO REDUCE CORRUPTION IN       INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION                              718       A. Every Adoption Should Proceed Like a Hague          Adoption                                        719       B. Receiving States Should Provide a Second Check          as to Whether a Child Is Adoptable and          Consents Were Properly Obtained                 721       C. Private Agencies Must Maintain the          Approval of Every Major Participant in the          Adoption Process                                722       D. Greater Transparency and Follow-up Reporting          by Receiving States                             725 VI.   CONCLUSION                                         726 

I. INTRODUCTION

Throughout its relatively brief history, intercountry adoption has been the subject of much praise, criticism, and general controversy. (1) Proponents of intercountry adoption view it as an opportunity for hopeful parents and children to mutually benefit, rather than each waiting--perhaps indefinitely--to be matched from within the smaller pools of available children or parents in their own countries. (2) Additionally, the building of cross-cultural families is viewed as a positive for the parents and children involved and for society more generally. (3)

On the other hand, critics view transnational adoption as further entrenching unhealthy power dynamics between wealthier countries and developing countries. (4) Corrupt adoption practices in the poorer sending countries have fortified this narrative. More and more allegations have arisen in recent decades suggesting that many of the infants and toddlers adopted through intercountry-adoption processes were not actually orphaned children in need of a home. (5) Instead, many of these children were made "adoptable" by financial incentives targeting destitute parents or by trafficking, kidnapping, or forced pregnancy. …

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