The child is objectified and commodified when international adoption is seen through the lenses of border policing, protectionism, national pride and cultural fetishism.
Unfortunately, this is the approach to international adoption embraced and promoted by the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, the adoption laws of most of its state parties, the policies of UNICEF and the attitudes of many childcare and advocacy groups around the world. To disapprove of their views is not to question their good intentions or seriousness of purpose. The problem, in fact, is deeper, and ultimately rests on muddled conceptions of human rights and the personhood of children.
A few examples will suffice to illustrate the point and set the record straight. Conspicuously in Article 1, the Hague Convention announces what will be the emphasis throughout the treaty, 'to prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic in children'. UNICEF's policy statements on international adoption tend to reinforce this approach to international adoption, denouncing 'the growth of an industry around adoption, where profit, rather than the best interests of children, takes centre stage'.1
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