International Adoption

Bringing countries and families together since 1939

War is What Saved the Orphans

The phenomenon of international adoption came to be shortly after WWII (1939-1945).

Tens of thousands of Jewish children were orphaned following the deaths of their parents in the Holocaust.

Korean War (1950-1953)

Amerasian children being born to Korean mothers and American fathers were looked down upon. To save these children from discrimination in their native country, North American and European parents would adopt them for humanitarian reasons.

Vietnam War (1959-1975)

International adoption tested the U.S's international policy when American soldiers fathered children with Vietnamese woman. The Amerasian Homecoming act permitted more than 25,000 Amerasians from Vietnam to enter the U.S. by the late 1980s.

A New Age (1990s)

War no longer motivated International Adoption, the inability to have ones own child kept the movement going. China had the largest output of orphaned baby girls due to a cultural preference to boys and the One Child Policy. As China's adoptions rates increased so did Vietnam's and Cambodia's.
"Theirs was not a conventional path to parenthood, but it was legitimate, entirely legal and as emotional any real birth"

Hague Convention (1993)

Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter country Adoption

The Convention sought to ensure that children adopted by foreign families were legitimately available for adoption. It required reasonable efforts to find permanent placement within the child's country of origin before allowing foreign adoption. The Convention stipulated that international adoption was to occur only when placement in the receiving country was one that would clearly benefit the child.

The Good

A World View

International adoption, in world view, serves as a viable connector between countries as they jointly work to meet the needs of children who do not have families. It recognizes that families from other countries can serve as important resources for children facing economic pressures that make it difficult for families to step forward to adopt and in countries where culturally adoption is not favored as an alternative for children without families.

Convention for the Rights of Children (CRC)

This concept of international adoption finds strong support in the CRC, which states in its Preamble, "[T]he child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding."

Celebrity Adoptions

Angelina Jolie

Actress Angelina Jolie has also made headlines for her international adoptions—not because she circumvented laws but because she has adopted children from various countries. She adopted a boy from Cambodia in 2002, a girl from Ethiopia in 2006, and a boy from Vietnam in 2007. Critics have scoffed that Jolie is on an international adoption spree.


Pop music star Madonna adopted a young child from Malawi in 2006, sparking controversy because a Malawi law requiring that prospective adoptive parents live in Malawi for a specific period of time was ignored. Critics claim Madonna was given special treatment because of her fame. A subsequent 2009 attempt by Madonna to adopt another child from Malawi was blocked by authorities but later approved by an appeals court.

The Little Couple

Bill and Jennifer are both TV reality stars on TLC. They are also little people who built their dream house in Houston, Texas. After many attempts to have a child of their own they decided to adopt. They adopted a little boy from China, named Will, who is also a little person. Later, they added Zoey who was adopted from India.

The Bad

Ignorance, Abuse, and Regulation


In September 2009, two U.S. couples and several workers from a Christian church in Cairo, Egypt, were jailed for child trafficking in connection with international adoptions. The couples believed that they had legally adopted the children from a Coptic Church and were attempting to bring them back to the United States. Egyptian law forbids the adoption of Egyptian orphans by non-Egyptians and the removal of orphans from the country. The couples claim they were not aware that they were breaking the law. The case highlights the many intricacies and potential dangers of international adoption.


Russia suspended all adoptions of Russian children by U.S. parents in April 2010 until the two countries could refine adoption procedures. The move was prompted by the case of Artyom Savelyev, a 7-year-old Russian boy whose adoptive American mother sent him back to Russia unaccompanied six months after taking custody of him. Tory-Ann Hansen of Tennessee claimed the boy was violent and mentally ill, and that she was misled about his condition by the adoption agency.

Russia Again

On 23 August 2011, Jessica Beagley of Alaska was convicted of misdemeanor child abuse. The jury saw her on video forcing hot sauce into the mouth of her adopted 7-year-old son as punishment and forcing the naked boy into a cold shower. The apparent motivation for the abuse was Beagley's desire to be featured on a segment of a popular reality show. Beagley and her husband have four biological children.


A girl named Mary-Jane had a very dark past and was adopted at the age of 10. Mary-Jane was very smart but got into drugs and alcohol, robbed a bank, got caught. She was put in prison and had to come to her mother in a jumpsuit and chains to say her last goodbyes to her mother who was dying of cancer.

Majority of Lithuanian kids are messed in the head due to Alcoholism


In September, the news agency Reuters published a report that claimed that some U.S. parents were trying to get rid of children that they had adopted. Most of the children were from Russia, China, Ethiopia, and Ukraine. Parents had posted on Internet message boards and were "re-homing" children without much government intervention. China's Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption stated that they were "very shocked and furious" at the findings of the report and will now require that parents check in six times a year until the child is 18 rather than just the first five years after adoption.

Strict Regulation

All of this tips over a domino-line of harm for kids who need parents. Stricter regulations meant to protect them mean they are likely to remain in institutions longer. Because they remain in institutions longer, they’re more likely to have behavioral, social and medical problems when they are adopted. Having problems after they’re adopted means it’s more likely the adoption will be what’s called “disrupted.” And kids from disrupted adoptions are more likely to have problems in future families. Which feeds back into a disincentive to encourage international adoptions, which means countries are the less likely to loosen up their adoption procedures, continuing the cycle.

Can we Make International Adoption Better?

Yes We Can

Through a commitment to the principles of the CRC and to a clearly articulated body of standards practice, the twin goals of promoting the well-being of children and enhancing understanding among the nations of the world are more likely to be achieved.