When it comes to international adoption, is there any consideration given towards the child and his or her rights? Or do we just think that the adoptive parents, institutions and agencies involved know more than the child? Does the child have any rights?
As one of the more vulnerable members of society, children need to be protected and nurtured. However, there are some that consider children to be a mere commodity that can be sold or trafficked. To ensure that children aren’t victims of illegal activities, the Hague Convention created a standard where intercountry adoptions will have the best interests of the child as the focus.
Also, the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children should be able to be provided whatever is necessary to grow up in a family environment.
A Loving Family
When placing an adoptee with a family thought needs to be made regarding if the adoptive family is the right choice for the child. After all, the adoptee has a right to be placed in a home that will nurture the child and provide the means for the child to be loved, happy and understood.
Though it is expected that the adoptive family be found within the child’s own country, if there is no possibility of the child being placed within a loving, nurturing environment within the country, then international adoption can be looked at as an option. A child has the right to be able to reach his or her own potential and that can only occur when they are living in an environment that allows them to grow, learn and develop without fear.
The Hague Convention provides the child with the guarantee that they will not be removed from their biological parents unwillingly and only will a child be separated from his or her parents if it is seen to be in the best interests of the child. The parents may be unable to provide the child with what he or she needs to develop and so give the child up for adoption, with the child’s consent if the child is able to comprehend what is happening. Of course, the child needs to show that they fully understand the situation before they can agree to be removed from the family.
To have their health needs met
A child has the right to be healthy and a major concern with orphanages and institutions is the effect that they have on the physical and mental health of the children under their care
Though the state may prefer to place a child in an institution as a way of ensuring the child stays within the country, it doesn’t necessarily mean that doing so is providing for the best interests of the child. If there is limited or no health support available within the country, then international adoption needs to be seriously looked at as an alternative.
Though the child may have developmental issues or gained a health-related problem due to being institutionalised, doesn’t mean that they should continue to suffer. If the prospective adoptive parents are the only means of providing the child with the care that they need, then allowing the child to be adopted into that family is the best choice for the child and is giving them access to one of their basic human rights: to be healthy physically, mentally and developmentally.
The child is an individual
International rights law recognises that the child is an individual and that they have the right to express their own view when they are able to do so. Remember, it’s all about the best interests of the child, not the best interests of the government, institutions, placement agencies or the adoptive parents.
Though everyone may think they are doing what’s best for the adoptee, there still needs to be consideration given to what the child, themselves, think about being placed in a new family and a new country. The child has the right to share their opinions and feelings about the situation and these need to be listened to rather than ignored by those who think they know better.
It’s the child’s future that is being affected and the child has every right to be consulted about such a life-changing event as adoption.
The trend in the drop of intercountry adoption is due to countries focusing on having children stay within the sending country due to the concern that the child when leaving a country to move overseas due to international adoption, will be removed from their heritage. So, there is an emphasis on placing a child with a family within their own country and, if possible, within another member of the family. When these options aren’t possible, then international adoption is considered as the last choice.
When a child is adopted internationally and removed from their culture and heritage they still have a right to know about their original country. It’s only natural for the adoptee to show curiosity about their background, especially if they are adopted into a mixed-race family. Therefore, prospective adoptive parents should be open to the possibility that they will eventually be asked questions about the child’s home country, biological parents or other information regarding their background. This situation needs to be accepted openly, with the adoptee feeling comfortable and loved rather than treating the adoptee’s family history and culture as something that should be shunned and not discussed.
Adoptive parents should not feel uncomfortable or make the child feel that the topic of their adoption is a taboo subject. Remember, a child has the right to have an identity and be seen as an individual. When talking about the adoption, the discussion should be as open and honest as possible so that the child gains an understanding of who they are in the world. If they later decided to research their personal background then the child should be encouraged to do so as a means of helping them develop their identity.
Have an equal opportunity
Sometimes a child may be deprived of an opportunity to learn, grow, develop and succeed in life. Human rights law states that each child has an equal opportunity. The opportunity to an education, health, happiness, love and to grow up into their full potential. Children can be the victim of circumstance and have very little power to change their situation.
Through adoption, a child is provided with a way in which they can have opportunities given to them that may be lacking either within their biological family (due to the inability of the biological parents being able to offer the child the same opportunities, or through neglect or abuse of the child). If an appropriate adoptive family can’t be found within the child’s home country then international adoption is the only valid option.
Does an adopted child have a right to contact their biological parents?
With adoption, when a biological parent gives consent then it means that any relationship between the parent and the child is ended. However, the child may eventually have a desire to try and locate their biological parents. Does the child have a right to do so? Remember, human rights law states that a child has the right to be seen as an individual.
If you’re adopted child decides that they want to try to make contact with their biological parents then the subject needs to be discussed honestly with the child. Maybe the biological parents have made it clear in the adoption process that they don’t want to be contacted. Perhaps the adoptive parents have no knowledge of who the biological parents are.
Whatever the case, the child has a right to any information available regarding the original parents and it is a topic that needs to be talked about openly with the pros and cons made clear to the adoptee. Will the biological parents be happy to see their child again? Will the child regret meeting his or her original parents? What is the motivation for the child to want to discover their original parents?
How will I know that the child I adopted isn’t a victim of trafficking or other illegal activities?
The Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography were established to make sure that children aren’t the victims of scrupulous activities such as child trafficking, child prostitution. With regard to child abduction, the Hague Convention sets out that children who are found to be victims of abduction are to be returned back to their original family.
When it comes to international adoption, the best way to make sure that the child you are adopting isn’t a victim of illegal activity is by adopting from countries who have signed up to these conventions and by using respectable and trustworthy placement agencies.
The U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs has a list of countries that have signed the Hague Convention
You can find a list of countries that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of a Child at the United Nations Treaty Collection.
By doing your research and adopting from the countries that have ratified the international rights of a child means that your adoptee has not be victimized by those who see children as a commodity rather than a human being.
As adoptive parents, you have a great responsibility for ensuring that the child you adopt has access to the inherent rights that are available to him or her. The reason you were chosen to adopt the child is that all parties in the adoption process felt confident that you were the right choice provide the child with these rights so that they could reach their potential in a loving, nurturing family environment.