International Adoption: The Human Rights Position

International adoption is under siege, with the number of children placed dropping each of the last several years, and many countries imposing severe new restrictions. Key forces mounting the attack claim the child human rights mantle, arguing that such adoption denies heritage rights, and often involves abusive practices.  Many nations assert rights to hold onto the children born within their borders, and others support these demands citing subsidiarity principles.  But children’s most basic human rights are to grow up in the families that will often be found only in international adoption.  These rights should trump any conflicting state sovereignty claims.

Policy Implications

  • International adoption is under siege by those claiming the human rights mantle.
  • Children's most fundamental human rights include the right to a nurturing family which is often available only in international adoption.
  • Children's fundamental human rights should trump state sovereignty claims
  • Neither adoption abuses nor concepts of heritage justify limiting international adoption
  • The International Adoption Policy Statement endorsed by many child human rights experts provides a way forward, rejecting policies which restrict international adoption, including in-country holding periods and the elimination of private adoption intermediaries.
  • International adoption appropriately recognizes children as citizens of a global community with basic human rights entitlements.
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