15 November 2016
The English version of the Dutch report of the Dutch Council of Criminal Justice and Protection of Juveniles’ advice ‘Reflection on Intercountry Adoption’ is now available.
This advisory report centres around two core questions.
The Council has the following answer to the fundamental question, ‘How can we provide the highest level of protection to children belonging to the intercountry adoption target group (children unable to grow up with their own families)?’
The Council is of the opinion that intercountry adoption is not the best way of protecting children and calls upon the government to shift its focus and to protect these children by supporting the implementation and advancement of the youth protection system in the country of origin. This ideal scenario is referred to as the ‘Family in country of origin’ scenario by the Council.
Over the last 10/15 years, the number of intercountry adoptions dramatically decreased with some 75%. Also the number of people interested to adopt saw a sharp decrease. This meant that adoption agencies encountered financial difficulties and saw their existence endangered.
Reasons for this are that in 2007
- several cases of child trafficking were brought out. One of the main, and unresolved, was the case of an Indian family whose child was kidnapped and legally adopted into The Netherlands. (video)
- Roelie Post published the book Romania for Export Only, the untold story of the Romanian orphans
- adult adoptees’ critical voices joined the debate
Since then there have been a number of debates in the Dutch Parliament and changes to the adoption legislation were announced. However, this has not happened up to now.
Instead, the Minister of Justice in the Netherlands has asked the Council for the Administration of Criminal Justice and Protection of Juveniles to advise about possible future scenario’s for the intercountry adoption system.
The Council for the Administration of Criminal Justice and Protection of Juveniles [RJS] is an independent body established by law. The Council has two tasks: giving advice and administering justice. The Council consists of about 75 members or deputy members, including experts on penitentiary law, juvenile and family law, behavioral scientists, members of the judiciary and the legal profession and medical experts.
The Council decided to extend their advice to the basic question :
- How can we provide the highest level of protection to children of the intercountry adoption target group (children unable to grow up with their own families)?
The report’s most quoted article is the 2008 article The Perverse Effects of the Hague Convention, which Roelie Post wrote at the request of the Research and Documentation Centre of the Dutch Ministry of Justice.
The Council comes to the same conclusion as the European Commission’s Independent Panel on EU Family Law Experts’s recommendation on Romania in 2004.
Both the Independent Panel and the Council gave technical and legal opinions, not political opinions.
Intercountry adoption is not child protection. Intercountry adoption has become a demand-driven market in children. Foreign assistance to reform/improve child protection and intercountry adoption do not go well together.
Finally, the Council attached great value to the principle of subsidiarity: adoption of the child should only be considered if no other solution can be found. The Council believes that the principle of subsidiarity cannot, in practice, be properly observed, meaning that this Principle of subsidiarity- argument is, to the Council, a convincing argument against intercountry adoption.
ACT welcomes this recommendation that gives final closure on the the subsidiarity principle and the differences between the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Hague Adoption Convention. The Council fully embraced the values and principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.