The real problem of intercountry adoption is that there is too little of it.
Adoption is the only institution whereby unparented children become legal daughters and sons by force of a deliberate decision of a judicial or other state authority.
Where the unparented child and the prospective parent reside in the same country, domestic laws alone govern adoption. However, both national and international laws must work together to constitute the filial-parental relationship when the unparented child and the prospective parent reside in different countries, whatever their nationalities. The Hague Convention of 1993 on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption—misguided in its interpretation and enforcement—is the principal international law devoted to intercountry adoption.
Some years ago, a joint report by UNICEF and other agencies estimated the number of double orphans to be sixteen million in Africa, Asia, and Latin America alone.1 Since then, conflict and disease will almost certainly have increased this number. But, of course, the number of children who are unparented is much greater than the number of double orphans. And of the tens of millions of unparented children globally, an estimated 10–14 million are committed to institutions. Whether or not institutionalized, the unparented are subjected to life-altering, and often life-ending, deprivations.
The predicament of unparented children around the world is the greatest humanitarian and human rights crisis of our time. The legal institute of adoption is a marvelous gift to humanity, for it is the only permanent solution to this crisis. And intercountry adoption is an essential component of this solution.
Indeed, in light of the rise in intercountry adoption throughout the latter half of the last century and up until about 2004, there was hope that every year increasing numbers of unparented children would become daughters and sons through intercountry adoption. It was also hoped that as with other fine ideas, a vibrant culture of adoption would take root around the world under the example of intercountry adoption. The much hoped for resulting scenario would be that of family unifications (rather than the limited, genetically reductionist, and potentially child-endangering notion of family reunification) on a global stage, with in-country and intercountry adoptions providing homes for all unparented children.
Who would oppose this ideal?