The debate around Intercountry Adoption can be emotional and highly charged. It is, after all, one that centers on issues of life and death, family and personal identity, and national and global policymaking that impacts millions. Thoughtful conversations that reflect the nuance of these issues is needed because misconceptions and myths abound. In our Fact Sheet, and throughout this page, we provide a brief response to some of the most frequently heard negative claims about orphaned children, orphan care, intercountry adoption and adoptive parents. Further discussions are needed in forums that offer great opportunity for interactive dialogue to elevate the tone of rhetoric on these critically important matters.
MYTH: Most intercountry adoptions are some form of "baby buying", "child trafficking" or other unethical practices.
Such practices are never tolerable and while their occurrence has been rare, the implementation of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption significantly increased transparency, safeguards, and standard practices to raise the bar on intercountry adoption practices.
MYTH: Intercountry adoption to the U.S. is only down because other countries have closed their programs.
Exact numbers vary, but it is clear that we remain in a worldwide crisis of orphaned, unparented children living around the world outside of family care and most often within the walls of institutions instead. Some countries have closed, but others are in need of support and assistance to open or re-open to intercountry adoption.The important question is, what specifically is our government doing to encourage and come alongside these countries so that waiting children can be placed in loving, permanent families as soon as possible?
MYTH: Most adoption agencies just want to make money and complain about rules.
“There is not a single adoption agency that stands out in this study as having an inappropriately high net revenue or net assets. On the contrary, the most significant finding is that the field contains several financially unviable agencies, and that the practice of intercountry adoption is not a profitable venture – it’s truly non-profit.”
MYTH: Advocates of Intercountry Adoption aren't interested in birth family preservation.
Some of the leading family preservation organizations were founded by and are led by adoptive parents.
Many adoption service providers are creating and expanding global family preservation programs.
“One day, family preservation may be universally successful. But today is not that day, and countries can support it, but also recognise that adoption, both national, and inter-country, is a critical solution, especially for older, disabled or abandoned children. When it is properly managed and in the best interests of the child, it can and should remain an indispensable and life-affirming part of countries’ strategy for child protection.” The Worldwide War on Adoption
MYTH: It's always in the best interests of children to remain in their birth culture even if that's inside the walls of an institution, with a temporary foster family, or as part of a group home.
“Children growing up in institutions rarely have any option to truly enjoy their birth or national heritage. Most of them will die in or age out of those institutions. The families that abandoned or surrendered them, or from whom they were removed, will rarely be able or willing to take them back home to raise. There are few adoptive families available in the countries where large numbers of children are institutionalized. Foster families are in limited supply in these countries also, and foster families don’t work nearly as well for children as adoption, whether domestic or international. The social science demonstrates definitively that international adoption works extremely well for children, helping many recover significantly from damage suffered in their first months and years, and enabling those adopted early in life to thrive.” Advocating for the Child’s Human Right to Family
MYTH: As long as they are run well and offer good care, an institution is an acceptable substitute for a family.
“Much of the social and brain science cited in the recent migrant child crisis was developed in the context of studying the destructive impact of institutions on infant and child development. This science demonstrates irrefutably that the profound neglect characteristic of institutions damages children’s emotional, intellectual and physical development, year by year, month by month, and indeed day by day. The longer children spend in institutions, the greater the destruction of their human potential.” Where is the Outrage…?