Corruption in international adoptions

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Click to follow link  Richard Cross
Click to follow link Jonathan Dickens
Click to follow link Sarah Dillon
Click to follow link Arun Dohle
Click to follow link Wendy Galvin
Click to follow link Peter Bille Larsen
Click to follow link Trish Maskew
Click to follow link Judith Masson
Click to follow link Jini Roby
Click to follow link Peter Selman
Click to follow link David Smolin
Click to follow link University of Waterloo Adoption Summit 2010

According to the experts:
Selected studies and reports

Below is a selected (not comprehensive) list of reports, presentations, and studies of irregular procedures in international adoption, especially the buying, defrauding, coercing, and kidnapping of children away from their birth families.

From Cross's presentation: “I keep getting asked … why didn’t you charge her [Lauryn Galindo] with human trafficking? She couldn’t be charged with human traf-ficking; human trafficking only deals with sex or forced labor. You can get away with buying babies around the world as a United States citizen, it’s not a crime.”

Richard Cross, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent’s presentation at Samford University, Cumberland School of Law, on April 15, 2005, about his investigation of Lauryn Galindo’s Cambodian operation which bought, defrauded, or kidnapped children from their birth families for the purpose of international adoption. Cross’s investigation led to Galindo being tried and jailed on federal charges.

To see or hear his presentation, or to read the transcript, click here and scroll to the bottom of the web page. 

Jonathan Dickens is a senior lecturer in social work and director of the BA and MA in social work at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom. He lived in Romania for three years, where he studied the international aspects of social work and the impact of intercountry adoption on the Romanian child welfare system.

“The paradox of intercountry adoption: analyzing Romania’s experience as a
sending country,”
International Journal of Social Welfare 11.1, 2002: 76-83

Study and analysis of how intercountry adoption affects the "sending country's" child welfare system. Dickens concludes that international adoption is set up to meet meet the needs—not primarily of the children or adoptive parents—of international adoption agencies, domestic child-welfare systems, and international political interests. The country's child care legislation gives formal priority to domestic alternatives to institutional care—preventive services, family reunification, foster care and in-country adoption. Concludes that in Romania, intercountry adoption remained a priority because of the large amounts of money to be earned. Suggests that intercountry financial aid for child welfare services should not be tied to intercountry adoption, because it paradoxically undermines the effectiveness of those services for the children who are left behind.

Sarah Dillon, “Making Legal Regimes for Intercountry Adoption Reflect Human Rights Principles: Transforming the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption,” 21 B.U. INT’L L. J. 179, 2003.

Arun Dohle, "Inside story of an adoption scam," November 13, 2008.

This article examines India’s international adoption process, focusing in particular on Preet Mandir, a children’s home in India that placed 518 children for adoption between 2004 and 2006, most internationally. This article outlines evidence that Preet Mandir was sending children without their birthfamilies’ permission; bribing India’s central authority in order to retain its license; and doing so for profit. Extensive detail includes names of the countries and Western adoption agencies involved.

Wendy Galvin, is the founding partner of Galvin Law, a New Zealand firm specializing in international adoption. “INTERNATIONAL ADOPTIONThe good, the bad and the ugly: A South Pacific perspective,” Presentation for the International Bar Association 2005 Conference, Prague Czech Republic, September 24, 2005September 30, 2005.

  • Galvin states: “Intercountry adoption is a strange blend of humanitarian outreach and semi-commercial exploitation on an international scale, with significant political implications."

  • Explores characteristics of both sending and receiving countries using the examples of Samoa and New Zealand, respectively.

Peter Bille Larsen is a social anthropologist specializing in social equity, indigenous issues, and political ecology. In these articles, Larsen reports that while doing fieldwork in Vietnam, five women asked him for help getting their children back.

Trish Maskew teaches a course in adoption law and policy at American University’s Washington College of Law. She served as a consultant to the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law and helped author its newly published Guide to Good Practice on the Implementation and Operation of the 1993 Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention. Maskew was founder and, until 2008, president of Ethica, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to adoption reform.

Judith Masson, “Intercountry Adoption: A Global Problem or a Global Solution?” Journal of International Affairs Vol. 55.1, Fall 2008.

Describes how intercountry adoption can undermine child welfare systems. Argues that regulatory standards, particularly the control of private adoptions, are required to eliminate abuses such as the abduction and trafficking of children.

Jini Roby is an Associate Professor at Brigham Young University, and an expert in adoption policy and practice. 

In a study of 73 birthmothers in the Republic of Marshall Islands, a small Western Pacific island nation with a total population of 68,000, more than 80 percent of the birthmothers believed that their children would return at age 18, better educated and wealthier. They believed they would help care for their original families, as is consistent with their cultural conception of adoption. 

Examines the experiences of U.S. parents who adopted children from the Republic of Marshall Islands. In general, these parents embraced openness from the start; had difficulty maintaining contact with birth families; and still would recommend open international adoptions to prospective adoptive parents.

Peter Selman is visiting fellow at Britain’s Newcastle University and chair of the Network for Intercountry Adoption. He is editor of Intercountry Adoption: Developments, Trends, and Perspectives. For more current or particular statistical information, email Peter Selman directly.  

Analyzes data related about 20 developed nations’ adoptions from other countries. Notes that between 1998 and 2004, inter-country adoption increased by 42 per cent.  

Using data recorded in the 1990s by 18 nations that adopted children from other countries, looks into the demographics of intercountry adoption, including: its rapid increase; countries that adopt the most children, both numerically and per capita; and countries that “send” the most children into adoption, both numerically and per capita.

David Smolin is a professor at Cumberland School of Law with expertise in international children’s issues. He has adopted internationally. Click here for a longer bio.

Using the lens of international human rights law, argues that, where the birth parents live under or near the international poverty standard of $1 per day, family preservation assistance must be provided or offered before families are allowed to legally relinquish children for intercountry adoption.

Analyzes when illicit intercountry adoptions constitute a form of child trafficking under international law. Reviews and applies relevant treaties on slavery and human trafficking. Analyzes the problem of money and adoption within the domestic (United States) adoption system.

University of Waterloo Intercountry Adoption Summit, 2010

Please email us if you have suggestions for this list.

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.

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Last page update: February 23, 2011