Several countries are tightening their adoption laws to avoid kidnapping scandals, such as the recent confrontation in Chad over a French charity group’s attempt to take 103 children out of the country.
The new restrictions highlight the huge international demand for adoptions, and the lack of adequate safeguards, standards and corruption-prevention in many of the nations providing children for adoption.
Another result of the changes, however, is thousands of disappointed American parents.
The regulatory changes could affect as many as 4,000 children who were already bound for adoptive homes in other countries, reports the Lawrence Journal-World in Kansas.
One prospective parent of a Nepalese child told the Journal-World that she feared for the health and development of children in overcrowded Nepalese orphanages.
But the government there has suspended nearly all international adoptions, amid rumors of mothers paid to give up their children, or children being taken against a parent’s will.
Guatemala will suspend all adoptions starting January 1, while Russia is pushing for more domestic family placements.
China, meanwhile, has placed restrictions on who may adopt a Chinese baby — no single parents, or disabled or obese people.
China, Russia and Guatemala account for 70 percent of international adoptions.
The Netherlands announced it was tightening rules after a Dutch TV show alleged that an adoption foundation may have provided hundreds of families with Indian children from parents who may not have given them up voluntarily, reports Reuters.
Guatemala, which has provided American parents with 25,000 children since 1990, seeks to reform a disorganized and corrupt adoption system where some mothers are offered $1,000 to give up their children and lawyers earn up to $20,000 to close the deal, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Guatemalan Vice President Eduardo Stein publicly alleged that U.S. parents were adopting Guatemalan babies in order to steal their internal organs, which turned many Guatemalan parents against the United States, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Would-be adoptive parents say they are being penalized for the actions of a few, and they charge the Guatemalan government with condemning their orphans to a life of poverty, illness and illiteracy.
Guatemala recently decided to join the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, and is refusing to allow any children to be adopted by countries that are not parties to the convention as well — such as the United States.
The Inquirer reports that the United States “signed on” to the Hague Convention in the early 1990s but has yet to officially join due to concerns over several provisions.
Ironically, it was the United States, along with UNICEF, that pushed Guatemala to institute the adoption reforms in the first place.
“Dutch tightens foreign adoption rules after probes”
Reuters, November 7, 2007
“Both joy, frustration soar at prospect of Nepal adoption”
Lawrence Journal World (Kansas), October 15, 2007
“Awaiting adoptions that may never be”
Philadelphia Inquirer, November 6, 2007
“Guatemala tries to change its image as adoption factory”
Chicago Tribune, November 10, 2007