Corruption in international adoptions

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Click to follow link Publications from NGOs
Click to follow link Websites for Learning More

Publications from NGOs

Better Care Network

Holt International Children’s Services. Best known as an adoption agency, Holt International Children's Services also develops and maintains programs overseas to give orphaned, abandoned, and vulnerable children safe and nurturing environments in which to develop. Programs include research and publications.

This study, conducted by the President’s Office for Social Welfare together with the support of Holt International Services and UNICEF, analyzes the situation faced by institutionalized children and adolescents in shelters in Guatemala. Findings include: 5,600 children and adolescents live in Guatemalan institutions. More than 4,600 of these children are age 4 or older. Fewer than 400 are under a year old.

Study found that Liberia’s adoption law fails to regulate intercountry adoption effectively. Concludes that “as a partial result of this lack of oversight, many children who are not legitimately eligible are suspected of entering the adoption system through fraudulent means, mostly through false promises designed to deceive birth parents into relinquishing them.”

Study of 204 Cambodian child caring facilities in 24 provinces documented 8,270 children in institutional care. Findings include: Most children in care are over the age of 8 and therefore ineligible for international adoption. Only 132 children in institutions were one year old or younger—fewer babies than Westerners adopted every two months. Many children in orphanages had extended families that could care for them, if provided with the support to do so.

Latin American Institute for Education and Communication (ILPEC) 

Study of Guatemala’s then-current child adoption process. Concludes that these direct and private adoptions were what they called a “labor market” conducted for financial gain, not for the child’s best interests.

Save the Children

Report reviews where and why vulnerable children are placed in care institutions, the harm institutional care causes these children, why these institutions are still in operation around the world, and finally, offers recommendations as to the most effective kinds of care needed.

Terre des Hommes Foundation and UNICEF

Report concludes that many children living in Nepal’s orphanages, children’s homes, and other institutions are deprived of basic rights. Most children in institutions surveyed have living relatives from whom they have been separated. Reports on abuses, including kidnapping and baby-buying, coercion of parents, bribery, and trafficking.

The Casa Alianza Foundation and Myrna Mack Survivors Foundation 

In-depth report on irregularities within the Guatemalan adoption system. Includes government statistics, reports of medical personnel repeatedly involved in childbirths for international adoption, and news and police reports of child kidnappings for adoption.

For UNICEF’s English translation, follow these links: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five.  

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Websites for learning more 

Adoption Agency Research Group, a yahoo! group. Formed to help prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) research and select an international adoption agency. Some members have in-depth knowledge about difficulties with a variety of agencies and countries. Adoption professionals may not join.

The Better Care Network brings together organizations and individuals concerned about children without adequate family care. BCN facilitates active information exchange and collaboration on these issues and advocates for technically sound policy and programmatic action on global, regional, and national levels.

Ethica, Inc.—An independent voice for ethical adoption. A nonprofit organization that seeks to be an impartial voice for ethical adoption practices worldwide, and provides education, assistance, and advocacy to the adoption and foster care communities.

EMK Press—Resources for adoptive families and the professionals who help them. EMK Press publishes books for adoptees, adoptive families, foster families, and adoption professionals.

Fleas Biting Blog is maintained by Desiree Smolin and Usha Regenchary Smerdon. In 1998, Desiree and her husband David Smolin adopted two older girls from India only to find that the two had been stolen from their birthmother. The blog tracks corruption in international adoption and links to a plethora of resources.

Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS)’s mission is to advocate on behalf of children in need of permanent, safe and loving families. Its member organizations are involved in international adoption.

Le wiki de l’adoption. A French website about adoptions from Cambodia.

Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform (PEAR) is a grassroots group of adoptive and prospective adoptive parents. Its mission is to provide a voice for prospective and adoptive parents, and to ensure that families are given the opportunity to make a wholly informed and educated decision to adopt.

Towards a New Ending is Julia Rollings’ blog. In 1998, the Rollings family adopted a pair of siblings from an orphanage in Chennai, India. In 2006 the director of the orphanage was arrested on charges relating to child trafficking. The Rollings decided to launch a private investigation into their youngest children's adoption, finally making contact with their children's birth mother in mid 2006, who confirmed that our son Akil and daughter Sabila had been taken from her without her knowledge or consent and sold by her first husband. The Rollings returned to India in March 2007 to reunite their children (aged 12 and 13) with Sunama and her five younger children by a second husband.

     In September 2008, Julia published a book, Love Our Way: A Mother's Story, (in Australia and New Zealand; not yet available in the U.S.) in which she tells the story of discovering that her children had been victims of child trafficking and establishing a strong connection and ongoing relationship with their birthmother. For more information about the scandal at Chennai orphanage, see David Smolin’s selected works.

Voices for Vietnam Adoption Integrity is a volunteer collaborative blog overseen by parents who have been through the adoption process in Vietnam and have gained knowledge and concern about ethics and integrity. They hope to help educate others and continue to voice the necessity for ethical adoptions in Vietnam and worldwide.

Please email us if you have suggestions for this list.

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NOTE: This page from the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism website offers documentation of and background about serious irregularities in international adoption. For the systemic analysis of corruption in international adoption, please read “The Lie We Love,” Foreign Policy magazine, Nov./Dec. 2008, and visit our webpages dedicated to international adoption. For ideas about fairer policy solutions, please read “The Baby Business,” Democracy Journal, Summer 2010.

© 2008-2014 Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, 02454. All rights reserved.

Last page update: May 6, 2011