ACT PRESS RELEASE
Dutch Government’s Legal Advisors say International Adoptions Should Stop
The Netherlands’ top legal advisory body – The Council for the Administration of Criminal Justice and Protection of Juveniles – has advised the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice 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.”
A summary of the Council’s report can be found here.
The issue will be debated in the Dutch Parliament during 2017 and the pro-adoption agencies have been effective in getting their side of the story into the Dutch media. This page represents ACT’s perspective.
In our view, this new report from the Netherland’s top legal advisors is highly significant and good news for unprotected children all over the world.
Our extensive global experience shows that inter-country adoptions is often based on fraud – the child is often separated from its parents by duress and sometimes even kidnapped – and adoptive parents in Holland and other wealthy countries are often in the dark as to the origins of their adopted children. Unfortunately, intercountry adoptions has become a lucrative (and legal) market where children are effectively sold.
Arun Dohle, Director of ACT, said “the Council’s report implies that the Hague Convention’s principles have led to a market in children, thus hampering the development of child protection services in source countries. It is far better to support local child protection, and stop intercountry adoption, as the two are incompatible.
Background to the report
The Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice commissioned this report primarily because: “There has been a sharp decline in the number of children adopted into the Netherlands from abroad in the past ten years.” This has resulted in Dutch adoption agencies facing financial difficulty.
An increasing number of adult adoptees have called for more transparency into their origins, including access to their original birth certificates and biological parents. (All foreign adoptees have their identities, and birth certificates, changed on arrival – making it very hard for them to trace their biological families).
In addition, ACT’s work has led to publicity in the Dutch media about intercountry adoption. For example, an Indian child was kidnapped and legally adopted into The Netherlands.
Pros and Cons of intercountry adoptions
The Council’s report evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of intercountry adoptions:
- “children who grow up in institutions will lag behind in their physical, cognitive and social emotional development. Adoption offers a child the opportunity to grow up within a family instead of an institution, keeping the child from suffering more and permanent development delays. Intercountry adoptions into the Netherlands also allows the adopted child to grow up in a prosperous country and allows adoptive parents with a desire to have children to have their wish granted.
- “The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Hague Adoption Convention recognise that the rights and interests of a child are best protected by a family in their own country. The country of origin often lack a youth protection system to provide alternatives to intercountry adoption. Research also shows that intercountry adoption negatively affects the advancement of the youth protection system in the country of origin.”
- “Furthermore, intercountry adoption involves financial interests. These carry the risk of illegal and undesired practice.”
- “The quality of the adoption process is subject to a lot of criticism.”
The micro and macro levels
The Council conclude that intercountry adoption can be of benefit to individual children – what they call the “micro” level – but it has a negative impact on the society in the origin country. In their own words:
“The Council, in weighing the above arguments against each other, finds as follows. Despite the benefits it provides to the individual child (micro level), the Council believes that the adoption system is not ideal to protect the children at large (macro level). This conclusion is highly reliant on the fact that, in view of the obligations of the government, arguments at the macro level (system) must be given more weight than arguments at the micro level.”
The Council’s Recommendation:
In the conclusion of the report the Council makes its recommendation:
“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. The ideal scenario is referred to as the ‘Family in the country of origin’.”
Terminate adoptions from China, the US and other EU Member States
Adoptions from certain countries are particularly challenging and the report made the following recommendation:
“The Council recommends to terminate immediately the collaboration with countries with specific problems. This concerns China (supervision by Central Authority and accredited bodies not possible), the US (violates the intention of the Convention’s provisions with respect to the principle of subsidiarity and freely given consent) and countries of origin that are EU Member States (principle of subsidiarity.”
Against Child Trafficking welcomes this report on intercountry adoption from The Netherlands’ leading body of legal advisors, consisting of 75 top legal, medical and psychological experts. A key source in this report was the 2008 paper by Roelie Post, the founder of ACT: The Perverse Effects of the Hague Convention. [LINK)
We welcome an end to intercountry adoption.
We also trust they will take a critical look at the Hague Adoption Convention and evaluate its role in enabling the intercountry adoption business.