The Lie We Love: Foreign Adoption Seems Like a Win-Win Arrangement. Unfortunately, Those Bundles of Joy May Not Be Orphans at All.


| May-June 2009



Foreign Adoption

image by Pep Bonet / Noor / Aurora Photos

We all know the story of international adoption: Millions of infants and toddlers have been abandoned or orphaned—placed on the side of a road or on the doorstep of a church, or left parentless due to AIDS, destitution, or war. These little ones find themselves forgotten, living in crowded orphanages or on the streets, facing an uncertain future. But, if they are lucky, adoring new parents from faraway lands whisk them away for a chance at a better life.

Unfortunately, this story is largely fiction.

Westerners have been sold the myth of a world orphan crisis. We are told that millions of children are waiting for their “forever families” to rescue them from lives of abandonment and abuse. But many of the infants and toddlers being adopted by Western parents today are not orphans at all. Yes, hundreds of thousands of children around the world do need loving homes. More often than not, though, the neediest children are sick, disabled, traumatized, or older than 5. They are not the healthy babies that, quite understandably, most Westerners hope to adopt.

There are simply not enough healthy, adoptable infants to meet Western demand—and there’s too much Western money in search of babies. As a result, many international adoption agencies work not to find homes for needy children but to find children for Western homes.

 

Over the past two decades, as international adoptions have flourished, so has evidence that babies in many countries are being systematically bought, coerced, and stolen away from their birth families. Nearly half the 40 countries listed by the U.S. State Department as the top sources for international adoption over the past 15 years—places such as Belarus, Brazil, Ethiopia, Honduras, Peru, and Romania—have temporarily halted adoptions or been prevented from sending children to the United States because of serious concerns about corruption and kidnapping.

peter dodds
5/10/2012 4:56:21 AM

I was adopted from a German orphanage by an American couple, one of about 10,000 German children adopted by U.S. citizens during the 1950s-1970s. In this television interview, I describe international adoption from a unique perspective -- that of a foreign orphan adopted to America -- and harm caused by uprooting children from their native countries and cultures: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1kEbQ-5p5g