The rise in African adoptions: Stopping this at “all costs”?

One of those vexing stories out of the international “human rights community”,  sounding the alarm bells as intercountry adoption from Africa rises.

The African Child Policy Forum argues that the “industry” of international adoption has turned to Africa in an attempt to supply the endless demand for children to adopt by those dreadful Westerners….It is appalling to me that the human rights dimension of this problem is presented in such a skewed way. A recent conference of high level UN representatives  and academics lamented the rise in these adoptions–and called for solutions “at home.”  We all agree that where home solutions are possible and feasible, these are the best. But in tens of thousands of cases, such solutions are not available. What then? What does it mean to say that this rise should be stopped “at all costs”?

The usual suspects were brought out for blame–supposedly tens of thousands of dollars paid to “buy” the children, profit-making by agencies, shortages of adoptable children internationally….

It is of course true that other countries have tightened up on adoption–but far more because of this sort of scare tactic than because real and positive solutions of permanency have been found in the countries of origin. If I saw a meaningful shift in child welfare policy, I would rejoice. But keeping children at home certainly in itself does nothing to guarantee that they are safe, loved and protected. How sad to see human rights discourse used in this very misleading way.

It is easy for critics to keep on saying that there is a “shortage” of adoptable children–because there is no human rights imperative demanding that countries account for their populations of social orphans. The real fact seems to be that the number of children adopted is and has always been very small in relation to the numbers of children requiring permanency and psychological safety.


One thought on “The rise in African adoptions: Stopping this at “all costs”?

  1. our decision to adopt a baby is very much a journey. to people unacquainted with adoption, the trek can be over-whelming. my wife and I adopted 2 beautiful kids. we completed the procedures for adoption in Thailand and we are now building a happy home for these kids but before we knew we were ready to adopt, we understood what goes into being an adoptive parent. we considered the responsibilities of parenting someone else’s child by heart.

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