The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

6 January 2005

No dice, son, you gotta stay here

First off, UNICEF's official policy on intercountry adoption:

Intercountry adoption is about finding parents for orphaned or abandoned children in another country. When this happens, the child's links with his/her biological family are completely severed.

UNICEF recognizes that intercountry adoptions may sometimes be necessary. However, UNICEF believes that appropriate domestic solutions can usually be found for children who might otherwise be considered as needing intercountry adoptions. UNICEF therefore focuses its efforts on facilitating solutions for the child to remain in his/her family, community or country of origin.

Intercountry adoption should take place in the following circumstances: a) Every effort has been made to keep the child in the family and community; b) When necessary, every effort has been made to successfully trace the parents of the child. This is particularly true in situations of emergency; c) When it complies with existing international instruments such as the CRC (particularly article 21), and the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption; d) All parties involved have given their informed consent; e) It is in the best interest of the child.

The Hague Convention sets down some fairly strict rules of its own, and there are lots of other hoops a family wishing to adopt an overseas child must jump through.

Still, the demand is there, and I've always looked at adoption as a win-win situation: the parents have a child of their own, and the child doesn't wind up in an institution, or something worse. And there's apparently lots of interest in adopting young tsunami victims; Dawn Eden reports that ten percent of her traffic has been search queries for "tsunami victims adoption." It is the apparent policy of non-governmental organizations, however, to make this as difficult as possible, and recent statements to the effect that "children are best left where they are in environments that are familiar to them," as Australian UNICEF boss Carolyn Hardy has said, might be true under the best conditions, but hardly the best conditions prevail in the wake of the killer wave: it's not an environment familiar to anyone.

You might conclude that UNICEF and other NGOs have an agenda beyond the welfare of children. Dawn Eden spells it out:

Nobody — not UNICEF, and, as of yet, not the mainstream media — wants to admit that the U.N. is holding back these children from adoption because it fears antagonizing the children's Islamic home countries, which shudder at the thought of Allah's people being raised by infidels.

But of course. Better a thousand children should be warehoused, better a hundred should perish, than a single imam be outraged. Thank you, O Religion of Peace.

Posted at 8:05 AM to Dyssynergy

In many muslim-rule countries, non-muslims cannot adopt at all, so it's a moot point.

UNICEF can't make children available for adoption or not; only the home country can do that.

In India, non-muslims cannot adopt, but they can be granted guardianship, and India will allow such children to be taken out of the country and adopted eleswhere.

UNICEF and such are correct -- we tend to forget in our land of small separated families that MOST people in that part of the world live in wide extended families; while they may have lost parents, they probably have not lost all of their relatives. And certainly, it is far far better for a child to be taken in by their relatives than to be uprooted and moved to an entirely different country where they don't even speak the same language!

Yes, there will likely be quite a few orphans indeed when all the dust has settled. And hopefully those children will find homes, either in-country or out, as quickly as possible. But it's not fair to deny them the opportunity to find relatives, far or close, who may be searching for them even now in all the chaos.

As someone who HAS adopted from India already, and is in the process of another adoption from India, the plight of these children has certainly touched my heart, and I pray for them and their families. But I also know that as annoying and red-tape-filled a process as the Hague Convention makes it, that MOST adoption agencies, orphanages, and the home country do indeed have the best interests of the child at heart.

Posted by: Jennifer at 3:39 PM on 6 January 2005

I think the agencies themselves are generally blameless here; it's the organizations which have placed themselves above the agencies which cause my hackles to rise.

Posted by: CGHill at 4:20 PM on 6 January 2005