|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: Talking Point|
Sunday, 28 January, 2001, 11:33 GMT
Overseas adoption: Is it just children for sale?
A transatlantic row over the future of two adoptive babies has put the spotlight on the haphazard world of international adoptions.
A British couple who adopted American twins had the babies taken away by social services in the UK.
Modern communications, the internet and cheaper flights have all made it easier to adopt abroad. This can help many children find suitable parents and stable homes.
But there is unease at the unregulated way in which such adoptions are taking place. Are tighter international controls needed?
Do you have experience of adopting abroad? Were you adopted from another country?
Our experience in adopting a child from China to the USA was mainly positive. Our child had been well cared for in a state orphanage, and was in good health, and in the two years since the adoption she has flourished in every way possible. She is an immense blessing to us. What troubles us, however, is how extremely difficult it is to adopt children from abroad, even though there are millions of children in need of a home in many countries across the world.
The process of adoption is very long, very expensive, and extraordinarily bureaucratic, requiring a major commitment of time, energy, patience and money that would deter many people who might otherwise make good parents. Like so many other areas of international co-operation, the infrastructures are not in place to facilitate a humanitarian (and humane) outcome for those most in need of it -- the children and the parents.
I wonder how many of those people who are against internet adoption are supports of abortion - unfortunately in today's world children have become a commodity. Rather give a child a loving home - it does not matter where they were born.
Institutions cannot replace a family in preparing a child for adulthood. In this country, there is a great barrier to adopting these children. So, the only hope for a child in an orphanage from Slovakia is if there is someone from another country who would want to provide the love and normal life that he would be deprived otherwise. To stop adoption would be cold hearted. The humane solution is to discover the flaws in the system and then fix it!
Those children were bought with cold hard cash!! It is immoral and should not be allowed by international laws.
Perhaps the only good thing is that new laws may be enacted to make sure this never happens again. Meanwhile, the only losers in this are the babies - and I sincerely hope for their sake this can be resolved quickly and they can have a "normal" family life.
In a country such as India customs of life started from the necessity of a male child. Here those who have no child don't have the same lives. Here, it is very necessary to adopt a child, not only for life, but also life after death. This is changing very slowly.
Will Cave, Kathmandu, Nepal
I think that the child should not be adopted by anybody. Nobody in this world could replace their mother, who has carried them for 9 months, I believe that no one could give them love and care as much as their natural mother, no matter how poor or whatever the situation of the family would be. There's no place better than Mom's chest and lap. I'm a mother of 4 and never could imagine that I could give one of my children away for any reason. I myself had an experience of having a step mother and now I'm nearly 40 years old. I'm still having a feeling of need of my natural mother's care. I just try my best to give all my love and care to all of my children and try to give them what ever I've missed in my whole life.
I personally find it horrible that children could be "sold" again and again by a mother, as if goods to make a profit.
But again, excessively strict regulation, not only in the UK but throughout the world, drives couples honestly wanting to provide a home to seek rather unusual methods to obtain one.
On the one hand I'm appalled, and on the other I think neither of the couples looked for even more illegal methods. Trust me, criminal organizations trading with children exist and quite a few seek them, particularly in the Third World.
Sean Smith, London, England
This topic is of great interest to me. Not only am I writing my doctoral dissertation on the ethics of Internet adoptions, but my beautiful nephew was adopted in just this way. I have witnessed both the horror of the situation and the great joy. The bottom line is, adoption facilitators on the Internet must be regulated. Until that happens, there is nothing preventing the unfortunate adoptive parent from being scammed and the innocent child from being sold.
Donnamarie Leemann, Coffrane, Switzerland
I think the real problem here is that not the fact that these children were bought, but more on how easily it is to adopt over in the US. There is no regulation or anyway that potential "parents" can be thoroughly checked out. Adopted children need to be with suitable parents.
Having worked in the area of child adoption for a number years, I find this a rather problematic one. First and foremost, unfortunately people who carry out child adoption assessments have, in my opinion, too many 'disqualifiers' for people who may be otherwise suitable. Also at the end of the day assessment is not a 'science' it is 'subjective'.
I guess if you can provide what is commonly called a loving and secure environment for the child with an emphasis on education for their future you are clearly on the way to being deemed suitable.
What the couple did was not wrong, that is not withstanding the other implication attached to 'internet adoption seekers' they did not break any law and I would question what good 'foster care' is at this time. Is it meant as a punishment for the societal wrong doing of the couple or was it really done in the 'interests' of these children?
I think the children should stay with one of the adopted parents and to decide on it the social services should carry out an investigation to see who would be the best parents to the children. No children should be bought for any amount of money because when they grow up imagine what they will feel like being told that their parents sold them!
John Alkire, UK/USA
There are many childless couples who would love to adopt children, but find it difficult to do so, because they do not have the financial resources, or access to the internet. The English adoption system is so very cumbersome and slow, as well as being biased against people over 40, smokers, those who perhaps are overweight, who practise the "wrong religion" or other petty quirks. The Kilshaws should count their blessings, as they have two children who are presumably healthy.
Perhaps some sort of 'selective breeding program' for humans would be the answer. This would stop people who can ill-afford or have the capacity to look after these children from having them in the first place!
In this day and age when women are encouraged to have a career and helped to give birth naturally after the age of 40, why are the adoption laws in Britain so stringent that prospective adoptive parents are ineligible to adopt a baby if they are over 40? I don't blame the Kilshaws for trying to adopt through the Internet, but circumstances and restrictions forced them to seek adoption from elsewhere. I don't condone their possible illegal actions; the over-restrictive UK adoption system has played a part in this.
Prabha Mistry, London
Surely, the real question is not "why or whether babies should be bought on he Internet" but, rather, why should a mother in America, the world's richest country, feel she and her children have no other choice but adoption? Something must be severely wrong in the US for this to happen.
Mike Blaser, UK
I am all for adoption of babies over the internet.
But only virtual ones of course.
Let us all hope these kids get better treatment than most children when they are taken "into care". I would take my chances with the Kilshaws any day compared with the care that can be offered by social services. Let's not forget the tragic stories of the ineptitude of these "carers" that filled our newspapers over the last few weeks.
I have just watched an hour long programme devoted to the twin girls, on NBC Dateline.
It was revealed by NBC reporters that two other couples in NY and Ohio, had also attempted to adopt the babies but withdrew when large amounts of money entered the picture.
The Kilshaws were also interviewed and featured prominently in the programme.
It is disgraceful, in this day and age, that people can so easily, cross international and state boundaries and trade in children.
Surely, if these children are given the chance of a happy, loving and secure home, who are we to say that this is in any way wrong?
The law needs to be tightened internationally to prevent Internet adoption from being so lax. If nothing is done, how far away from slavery will we be? Human beings are not a commodity. This indicates the selfish needs of people being fulfilled. The Kilshaws have already had a crack at parenthood, why not give that opportunity to other couples?
So, Tony Blair is "disgusted" is he? Not as disgusted as people are with the over-regulated adoption system which puts political correctness before people's lives.
Martin from the UK exaggerates the cost of adoption from China. The total bill for our adoption came to around £10,000. However, the biggest single expense was the payment to Social Services for our home study. After that, the remaining costs included flights, hotels, meals,
guides / translators, legal fees (in the UK and in China) and a donation to the orphanage. This donation was $3000 (US), which in our case works out at about 100 pounds for every month that our daughter was in the care of the orphanage. When we consider the children still waiting in the orphanages, and the ongoing care that they need, $3000 does not seem like a great deal of money.
There are many children who are in the care of social services rather than being with a family. The strict regulations on who is allowed to adopt a child result in many children staying in homes until they are adults. Isn't it better to give them a permanent home.
I don't agree with the way the Kilshaws got custody of these babies, but I question the reason behind removing them. The Kilshaws have two other children. Are social services saying that the two babies are at risk while the other children are not? Or is it that they feel that they must remove these children because of public outrage.
Every child needs a home!
There should be a ban on any financial dealings when it comes to adoption. Children are not commodities, and it seems that many people need to be reminded of this. When Britain becomes a country where children can be bought I will renounce my citizenship. There are too many children in need in the U.K. as it is , and if a couple are unfit to look a British child , why should they be any more fit to look after an American one?
Chris Powell, Wales
I am unable to have children so I suppose, following the arguments that some put forward here, I should just buy one. Now following this line of argument, I'm assuming that my purchase should be protected as any other. So if the child fails to live up to my expectations I can get my money back?
As a prospective adopter of 40+, my partner and I have found the internet a useful research tool. Even the UK agencies utilise it to 'advertise' children needing homes. For example, if we were to adopt a child from China, once vetted by Social Services, we would need to pay £10-12,000 for each child. Supposedly to cover all the administrative and legal costs as well as a 'donation' to an orphanage. Can one really say this is not 'buying' a child?
By over-regulating adoption procedures in the UK, couples are forced to try seemingly easier routes. The children waiting in care in the UK are deprived of the loving family they need so desperately. Although some checks and balances are necessary in vetting out couples, let us not forget the abuse and suffering that children have passed through when in care homes. Speeding up and simplifying adoption procedures will decrease the attraction of the baby trade. .
There are controls in place that should have stopped this adoption - some reports indicate the mother lied about Arkansas residency. Existing laws should be enforced to their full extent.
The media has jumped on the 'evil' Internet bandwagon yet again, the BBC's own article overtly stating "the internet popular with paedophiles." So are magazines, videos, cars and telephones! Had this 'adoption' taken place as a result of a phone call and 'catalogue' being mailed to the prospective parents, would your reporters and editors continually highlight the use of telephones and US/Royal Mail?
Come on BBC, get over the sensationalism and report the important facts of this story.
Silas Denyer, UK
I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with selling the babies over the internet. It may sound as though they are being bought for money like slaves but if they were given away it wouldn't seem as bad. It's just a quick way of finding adoption and finding better parents.
A witch hunt is being exercised upon this couple who openly admitted that they paid for the adoptive children over the internet. Social services have trumped up charges to take the twins into care, with the view to returning the twins to their natural mother. Why? So the natural mother can sell the twins again?
Although the internet is not the ideal place to adopt children, this practise of selling children for adoption is common in the USA and other countries, not every country in the world has the tight vetting procedure in place in the UK. Just how many couples in this country have 'bought' children over the internet and stayed silent about it? This couple's only crime is that they openly admitted it and exposed the practise. Childless couples wouldn't resort to such drastic and costly measures in this county if our vetting procedure wasn't such a lengthy process.
There are many orphans in the world waiting for adoption, the earthquake in El Salvador has left tens of homeless children, many of them have lost the whole family, in this situation, adoption is necessary, on the other hand, the sales arrangement of the American twins is different, the selfishness and inhumanity, are clear in this case.
A number of issues on this situation bother me:
What's the problem? Any adoption process is no more of a lottery than who you end up with as natural parents anyway!
Using the internet to arrange adoptions is only OK if the adopting people are thoroughly vetted by a competent and informed independent authority.
What is far more important is that the Social Services rushed to take these babies away from the people who were caring for them but consistently fail to take children such as Anna Climbie away from the guardians.
The only reason this is blown out of proportion is because the internet has been involved, and the mindless masses see the net as a bad thing. This could just as easily have been done by phone, fax, or post. The Kilshaws were approved as adoptive parents by a court of competent jurisdiction in the US and therefore the adoption is legal. Now social "services" have decided to interfere and further traumatise the two children. The whole thing reeks of hypocrisy to me.
It's funny how when the media spotlight is on these twins that social services is on the case like a flash. Pity they couldn't react so quickly in the case of Anna Climbie
The internet is a genuine information and trading medium. Thus it is legitimate to 'advertise' children in need of adoptive parents.
This is not 'selling' a child. The twins were not 'purchased' via the internet - they were simply identified as being in need.
If control is needed it must be at the level of the agency facilitating the adoption.
How much one is able to pay is of no relevance to the welfare of the child.
Sarah Davies, England
Well, I personally find it very disgusting, children being traded online to the highest bidder. For God's sake we are talking about young human lives and not cars...
Given that in China unwanted baby girls are left to die in the streets, would tightening the current adoption regulations do anything to help them or their prospective overseas parents?
The major argument I am hearing here is that insufficient controls existed to decide if the Kilshaws were unfit parents. How arrogant!
These children are American citizens, therefore, they are subject to American law. The Kilshaws were examined by an agent of the American justice system and granted adoption. If the Kilshaws violate English law (child endangerment, etc) then they are subject to that law. Otherwise, it is the height of hypocrisy for you to say that America is a sovereign nation but cannot decide what is best for her citizens.
In response to other reader's comments, recent news articles show that being taken into care is no protection from violence or paedophilia. And there is certainly no shortage of babies and children in desperate need of good homes. More unwilling and traumatized mothers refused abortion will not solve the problem. A family friend and her husband trying to adopt recently were refused on grounds of age, simply because she is over 35. They were recommended to try for IVF treatment instead. Careful vetting is, of course, essential to the adoption process, but we need to get over idiotic restrictions of age, background and lifestyle before more children will go to the loving homes that so desperately want them.
This business about an 'internet' adoption is a bit of
a red herring. The internet is just another means of communication.
The same thing could have happened with an adoption over the
fax or via a photograph sent via the post. The fact remains that the human need to procreate is strong enough
that people will go to extraordinary lengths to have a child
of their own. Our Social Services don't seem to be making the
the process any easier.
Jason Gorringe, UK
Whilst adoption is undoubtedly too difficult in the UK, the attitude that you have some fundamental right to have children is exactly what fuels deals such as these! And why has nobody expressed concern that not only have the Kilshaws already got children, they are both about 45 and will be lucky to see their grandchildren grow to any significant age?
Currently there are many children in appalling conditions in many parts of the world. Why do the authorities fail to help these children find homes where they may be cared for by new parents? In this country there are far more potential adopters than children. This would bring much happiness and is cheap.
This is a v