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International adoption (also referred to as intercountry adoption or transnational adoption) is a type of adoption in which an individual or couple becomes the legal and permanent parent(s) of a child who is a national of a different country. In general, prospective adoptive parents must meet the legal adoption requirements of their country of residence and those of the country whose nationality the child holds.
International adoption is not the same thing as transcultural or Interracial adoption. However, the fact is that a family will often become a transcultural or interracial family upon the adoption of a child internationally.
The laws of countries vary in their willingness to allow international adoptions. Some countries, such as China and South Korea, have relatively well-established rules and procedures for international adoptions, while other countries expressly forbid it. Some countries, notably many African nations, have extended residency requirements for adoptive parents that in effect rule out most international adoptions.
- 1 Process overview
- 2 Major Origin and Receiving Countries of Children
- 3 International Legal Framework
- 3.1 UN Declaration Relating to the Welfare of Children (1986)
- 3.2 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)
- 3.3 The Hague Adoption Convention (1993)
- 3.4 US Laws
- 3.5 Asia Legal Framework
- 3.6 International Adoption and National Laws in Africa
- 4 Positive and Negative Consequences
- 5 Reform efforts
- 6 International adoption after a disaster
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
The requirements necessary to begin the process of international adoption can vary depending on the country of the adoptive parent(s). For example, while most countries require prospective adoptive parents to first get approval to adopt, in some the approval can only be given afterwards. Often an "orphan" is a child whose living birth family has consented to an adoption. Some describe orphanages as “nurseries” or "children's homes" because many of the children’s parents have not consented to an adoption of their children. It is not uncommon for a parent to put a child in a nursery temporarily while they deal with poverty or work. Orphanages are considered charities where impoverished parents can place children if they cannot afford to feed them, pay for child care, or want to take advantage of the educational opportunities in the orphanage. Because the institutions often provide education, they function more like subsidized boarding school.
Prospective parents of international adoptees wait to get a referral for a child, which often means waiting until one of these parents of the children in nurseries consents to the adoption. Bureaucracy is often blamed for the slow process it takes for a prospective parent to get a child, but often what is to blame is that the demand for children in the third world exceeds the supply. A senior advisor on child protection with UNICEF, Alexandria Yuster, argues that international adoption is now more about finding children for first world parents than finding homes for children. Susan Bissell, also of UNICEF, said that she does not oppose international adoption, but believes that it is preferable for abandoned children to be taken back by their previous families and advises governments to provide small monetary incentives to families who are willing to do so.
In the United States, typically the first stage of the process is selecting a licensed adoption agency or attorney to work with. Each agency or attorney works with a different set of countries, although some only focus on a single country. Pursuant to the rules of the Hague Adoption Convention (an international treaty related to adoption issues) the adoption agency or attorney must be accredited by the U.S. government if the child's country is also a participant in the Hague Convention. If the child's country is not a participant then the rules of the Hague do not apply, and the specific laws of the child's and adoptive parent(s)' countries must be followed. Even when the Hague does not apply, a home study and USCIS (United States Citizen and Immigration Services; formerly INS, Immigration and Naturalization Service) approval are requirements. The Hague is discussed below.
A dossier is prepared that contains a large amount of information about the prospective adoptive parents required by the child's country. Typically this includes financial information, a background check, fingerprints, a home study review by a social worker, report from the adoptive parents' doctor regarding their health, and other supporting information. Again, requirements will vary widely from country to country, and even region to region in large countries such as Russia. Once complete, the dossier is submitted for review to the appropriate authorities in the child's country.
After the dossier is reviewed and the prospective parents are approved to adopt, they are matched to an eligible child (except in some countries such as India, which does not allow "matching" of a child to (a) prospective parent(s)). The parent is usually sent information about the child, such as age, gender, health history, etc. This is generally called a referral. A travel date is typically provided at a later time in most adoptions. However, some countries might also provide a travel date at the time of referral, informing the parents when they may travel to meet the child and sign any additional paperwork required to accept the referral. Some countries, such as Kazakhstan, do not allow referrals until the prospective parent travels to the country on their first trip. This is called a "blind" referral.
Depending on the country, the parents may have to make more than one trip overseas to complete the legal process. Some countries allow a child to be escorted to the adoptive parents' home country and the adoptive parents are not required to travel to the country of their adopted child.
There are usually several requirements after this point, such as paperwork to make the child a legal citizen of the adopting parents' country or re-adopt them. In addition, one or more follow up (or "post placement") visits from a social worker may be required — either by the placing agency used by the adoptive parents or by the laws of the country from which the child was adopted. In the United States, citizenship is automatically granted to all foreign-born children when at least one adoptive parent is a U.S. citizen, in accordance with the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. Depending on the circumstances of the adoption, the grant of citizenship takes place upon the child's admission to the U.S. as an immigrant or the child's adoption in the parent's home jurisdiction 
Policies and requirements
Adoption policies for each country vary widely. Information such as the age of the adoptive parents, financial status, educational level, marital status and history, number of dependent children in the house, sexual orientation, weight, psychological health, and ancestry are used by countries to determine what parents are eligible to adopt from that country.
Information such as the age of the child, fees and expenses, and the amount of travel time required in the child's birth country can also vary widely from one country to another.
Each country sets its own rules, timelines and requirements surrounding adoption, and there are also rules that vary within the United States for each state. Each country, and often each part of the country, sets its own rules about what will be shared and how it will be shared (e.g., a picture of the child, child's health). Reliability and verifiability of the information is variable.
Most countries require that a parent travel to bring the child home; however, some countries allow the child to be escorted to his or her new homeland.
The U.S. Department of State has designated two accrediting entities for organizations providing inter-country adoption services in the United States and work with sending countries that have ratified the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. They are the Council on Accreditation and the Colorado Department of Health and Human Services. The U.S. Department of State maintains a list of all accredited international adoption providers.
Major Origin and Receiving Countries of Children
Major Origin Countries of Children
As shown in the chart, 7 countries (China, Russia, Ethiopia, India, South Korea, Ukraine and Vietnam) remain as major origin countries for almost a decade. Yet there has been slight change in other countries sending most children.
Major Receiving Countries
Based on Selman's research, during the year of 1998 and 2007, the top 10 receiving countries of all 23 reported countries, (ranked from the large to small), are the US , Spain, France, Italy, Canada, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Australia. Among these 10 countries, the top 5 accounts for more than 80% of overall adoption, and the US is responsible for around 50% of all cases.
The US (as the largest receiving country)
The most common countries for international adoption by parents in the United States for fiscal year 2012 were China (2,697), Ethiopia (1,568), Russia (748), Republic of Korea (627), Ukraine (395), Democratic Republic of the Congo (240), Uganda (238), Nigeria (197), Colombia (195), Taiwan (177), Ghana (171), India (159), Haiti (154), and Philippines (125). Other less common countries include Bulgaria, Norway, Australia, Kenya, Canada, Haiti, and Poland. These statistics can vary from year to year as each country alters its rules; Romania, Belarus and Cambodia were also important until government crackdowns on adoptions to weed out abuse in the system cut off the flow.
Adoption from Ethiopia has become an increasingly popular option for adoptive families in the U.S. According to the statistics of U.S. Department of State, the number of adoptees from Ethiopia has grown sharply from 42 (in 1999) to 1567 (in 2012).
Gender ratio of children adopted (US)
Generally, the US adopt more girls than boys. From 1999 to 2012, around 62% adoptees by US families are girls, and only 38% are boys. Yet this discrepancy between female and male adoptees has gradually declined. In other words, now the gender ratio of girls and boys adopted is more even and balanced.
China is the one major country where girls adopted far outnumber boys; due to the Chinese culture's son preference in combination with the official planned birth policy implemented in 1979, around 90- 95% of Chinese children adopted by the US families are girls. Although India also has a noticeable excess of girls being adopted (around 70%), Also as East Asian country, yet South Korea is the one country that has a relatively large excess of boys being adopted; about 60% are boys.
Countries suspending/ or be suspended adoption by US families
There have been several countries (including certain major sending countries) are completely not or only partially accepting intercountry adoption request from US families for certain reasons.
- In December 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a measure, effective January 1, 2013, banning the adoption of Russian children by US families. The ban was seen as diplomatic retaliation for the passage of the Magnitsky Act in the US, while popular support in Russia focused on incidents of abuse to adoptees by US families. In January 2013 about 20,000 people marched against the law in Moscow.
- India (temporarily) 
The US also suspended adoption relationship between certain countries, due to Hague Convention or other rationales.
- Vietnam (temporarily, expected to be resumed)
- Although Nepal has not closed it doors for adoption, the United States government has suspended adoptions from Nepal. Documents that were presented documenting the abandonment of these children in Nepal have been found to be unreliable and circumstances of alleged abandonment cannot be verified because of obstacles in the investigation of individual cases.
International Legal Framework
At the international level, the main legal instrument on intercountry adoption is the Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (hereafter the Hague Adoption Convention, 1993). However other relevant international legal instruments exist in order to ensure that the best interest of the child and the concern for her/his welfare inform the practices of intercountry adoption. For example, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) contains some specific references to intercountry adoption. The Declaration on Social and Legal Principles relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children, with Special Reference to Foster Placement and Adoption Nationally and Internationally (1986)  calls Member States to establish policy, legislation and effective supervision for the protection of children involved in intercountry adoption. All those instruments have some common principles: -the principle of subsidiarity according to which intercountry adoption should only take place when suitable adoptive parents cannot be identified in the country of origin of the child -the best interest of the child should be the paramount consideration -the placement of the child should be made through competent authorities or agencies with the same safeguards and standards as national adoptions -in no case should an adoption result in improper financial gains for those involved According to the Convention of the Rights of the Child (art. 21), as well as to the UN Declaration on the Protection and Welfare of Children (art. 17) and the Hague Adoption Convention (Preamble and art. 4), international adoption should be considered as an option if other arrangements (with priority to kins and adotive families) cannot satisfactorily be arranged for the child in her or his country of origin (principle of subsidiarity between national and international adoption). However the international community still disagree on the point whether the option of being placed in a permanent family setting through international adoption should prevail on the alternative of the placement of children in domestic care institutions. The United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (2000)  is an additional international instrument which calls on States parties to ensure that coercive adoption is criminalized under national law, regardless of whether such an offence is committed domestically or transnationally, on an individual or organized basis.
UN Declaration Relating to the Welfare of Children (1986)
The UN Declaration on Social and Legal Principles relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children, with Special Reference to Foster Placement and Adoption Nationally and Internationally was adopted by General Assembly resolution 41/85 of 3 December 1986. The UN Declaration Relating to the Welfare of Children reaffirms principle 6 of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, according to which “the child shall, wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents and, in any case, in an atmosphere of affection and of moral and material security”. Article 17 affirms the principle of subsidiarity in these terms: “If a child cannot be placed in a foster or an adoptive family or cannot in any suitable manner be cared for in the country of origin, intercountry adoption may be considered as an alternative means of providing the child with a family.” Article 24 requires Member States to consider the child’s cultural and religious background and interest. The Declaration encourages States not to hurry the adoptive process. Article 15 states “Sufficient time and adequate counselling should be given to the child's own parents, the prospective adoptive parents and, as appropriate, the child in order to reach a decision on the child's future”.
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)
The United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child marks a turning point in the international law of children’s rights recognizing the child as an active subject of international law whose views must be taken into consideration when dealing with matters affecting her or him (art.12). The principle of the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies (art, 3). This same principle shall be the paramount consideration also when States Parties recognize and/or permit the system of adoption. Particularly, article 21 requires that States Parties “ensure that the adoption of a child is authorized only by competent authorities who determine that the adoption is permissible in view of the child's status concerning parents, relatives and legal guardians and that, if required, the persons concerned have given their informed consent to the adoption. The placement of the child also should not result in improper financial gain for those involved in it (art. 21.d).
The Hague Adoption Convention (1993)
Recognizing some of the difficulties and challenges associated with international adoption and in an effort to protect those involved from the corruption, abuses and exploitation which sometimes accompanies it, in 1993 the Hague Conference on Private International Law developed the Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. It came into force on May 1995. As of March 2013, the Contracting States of the Convention are 90. Republic of Korea, Haiti, Nepal and the Russian Federation are signatories but have not ratified. With respect to the previous multilateral instruments which include some provisions regarding intercountry adotion, the Hague Adoption Convention is the major multilateral instrument regulating international adoption which calls for the need for coordination and direct cooperation between countries to ensure that appropriate safeguards are respected in order to promote the best interest of the child (ar. 1)and prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic in children. The Convention also requires that the all process should be authorized by central adoption authorities designated by the contracting states (chapter III of the Convention outlines the roles and responsibilities of this authority). If fully implemented at the national level, the Convention offers also a protective framework against the risks potentially implied in private adoption (when the adoptive parents set the terms of the adoption directly with the birth parents or with children's institutions plced in the country of origin, without recurring to accredited adoption service providers). The Convention leaves to the states discretion with regard to which public authority should be designated as central adoption authority (whose supervision and authorization is necessary to proceed with the adoption, art. 17 ) and which other bodies should be duly accredited as the provider of adoption services (art.9). If fully implemented at the national level, the Convention offers also a protective framework against the risks potentially implied in private adoption (when the adoptive parents set the terms of the adoption directly with the birth parents, without recurring to accredited bodies). The Guide to Good Practice for the implementation and Operation of the 1993 Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention, provides a guidance for the Convention operation, use and interpretation. The Convention has been considered crucial because it provides a formal international and intergovernmental recognition of intercountry adoption, working to ensure that adoptions under the Convention will generally be recognized and given effect in other party countries. To comply with international standards, many changes have been introduced in national legislation enacting laws to criminalize the act of obtaining improper gains from intercountry adoptions. However instances of trafficking in and sale of children for the purpose of adoption continue to take place in many parts of the world. Especially during emergency situations, natural disasters or conflicts, has been found that children are adopted without following appropriate legal procedures and risk to be victims of trafficking and sale. It has been raised also the issue that an excessive bureaucratization of the adoption process –following the implementation of the Hague Adoption Convention’s provisions - possibly establishes additional barriers to the placement of children 
The United States (US) is bound both by domestic and international laws regarding adoptions of children. The laws cover US families adopting children from abroad, and families abroad adopting US-born children. Many US children are adopted abroad. Families in the US adopted 8,668 children from abroad in 2012.
There are several international treaties and conventions regulating the intercountry adoption of children. When possible, the US prefers to enter into multilateral agreements over bilateral ones, because of the difficulty in getting the Senate to ratify international agreements.
- Inter-American Convention on Conflict of Laws Concerning the Adoption of Minors, 1984 (US not signed or ratified) 
- US bilateral agreement with Viet Nam on 1 Sept 2005
- United Nations General Assembly Declaration on Social and Legal Principles Relating to Adoption and Foster Placement of Children Nationally and Internationally (adopted without vote)
- Hague Adoption Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). The US has acceded to (signed) but the Senate has not ratified the Hague Convention. The US also made a declaration that this convention does not supersede Title 18, United States Code, Section 3190 relating to documents submitted to the United States Government in support of extradition requests.
- United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The US signed (16 Feb 1995)  but the Senate has not ratified because of states’ rights to execute children (minors tried as adults). This was deemed unconstitutional by Supreme Court in 2005, but the Senate has not reversed its position.
The US Department of State (State Department) lists the pertinent legal documents regarding adoptions. In particular, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 incorporates the Hague Convention into domestic law. The act stipulates requirements for US children being adopted internationally. Paragraph 97.3 (§97.3) stipulates the requirements for a US child being adopted internationally in a country that has also ratified the Hague Convention.
US Children Adopted Internationally: Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000, 42 U.S.C. 14901-14954. §97.3 Requirements subject to verification in an outgoing Convention case. (a) Preparation of child background study. (b) Transmission of child data. (c) Reasonable efforts to find domestic placement. (d) Preparation and transmission of home study. (1) Information on the prospective adoptive parent(s)' identity, eligibility, and suitability to adopt, background, family and medical history, social environment, reasons for adoption, ability to undertake an intercountry adoption, and the characteristics of the children for whom they would be qualified to care; (2) Confirmation that a competent authority has determined that the prospective adoptive parent(s) are eligible and suited to adopt and has ensured that the prospective adoptive parent(s) have been counseled as necessary; and (3) The results of a criminal background check. (e) Authorization to enter. (f) Consent by foreign authorized entity. (g) Guardian counseling and consent. (h) Child counseling and consent. (j) Contacts. (k) Improper financial gain.
A families’ eligibility to adopt from another country is fairly similar to the requirements of domestic adoptions, with additions regarding citizenship, visas, and immigration. These are detailed in the booklet “Intercountry Adoption from A to Z” (http://adoption.state.gov/content/pdf/Intercountry_Adoption_From_A_Z.pdf). The following E P and U are from this guide.
ELIGIBILTY TO ADOPT Before you can bring a child home from another country, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must determine that you are able to provide a loving, stable home for that child. The most important requirement for USCIS approval is a home study that establishes your ability to care for a child. Every state has different requirements for this home study, but in general all home studies will detail personal, financial, and medical information. They will include items such as personal references, fingerprint clearances, verification of employment, proof of health and life insurance, and sometimes photos of your home and family. Home studies are typically prepared by a social work professional or organization, though state laws vary. Your adoption service provider should know the requirements of your state, and make sure that your home study satisfies all laws and regulations (including those of the Hague Adoption Convention). If adopting from a Hague Convention country, your home study must be completed by an accredited adoption service provider unless the home study preparer qualifies as an exempted provider. Once your home study is complete, it will be submitted to USCIS.
Visa Requirements are broken down by destination country depending on if the country is a party to the Hague Convention. The Adoptive Child needs a VISA to enter the US. Depending on if the country is Hague or not the child will need one of the following: Hague: I-800A; I-800; DS-260; DS-5509; DS-1981 Not Hague: I-600A; I-600; DS-260; DS-1981. The forms can be found here: (http://adoption.state.gov/us_visa_for_your_child.php).
PROCESSING YOUR CHILD’S VISA Although the visa interview appears to involve a single action that may be quickly completed, the Consular Officer performs several different steps required by U.S. law and regulation. The Consular Officer: • Reviews the approved I-600 or I-800 petition to ensure that the child has satisfied the requirements of an orphan or Convention Adoptee as defined by U.S. law; • Verifies that a competent foreign authority has fully and irrevocably terminated the birth parents’ rights or granted appropriate permissions so the child can be adopted; • Determines that the child's medical condition, as reported by the panel physician, or other factors do not preclude visa issuance; • Establishes that the adoptive parents have legal custody (Some adoption guardianship decrees, such as the ones practiced under Islamic Family Law, may not meet the requirements of U.S. immigration law); • Confirms that the child has the required travel documentation such as birth certificate and passport; and • Conducts the required security checks.
U.S. CITIZENSHIP FOR AN ADOPTED CHILD It’s very important that you make sure your adopted child becomes a U.S. citizen. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 was designed to make the citizenship acquisition process easier and eliminate extra steps and costs. Under the Child Citizenship Act, children adopted abroad can automatically acquire U.S. citizenship if: • At least one parent of the child is a U.S. citizen; • The child is under the age of 18; • The child is admitted to the United States as an immigrant for lawful permanent residence; and • The adoption is final. Because of the Child Citizenship Act, many parents are no longer required to make a separate application for their children to be naturalized. If your adoption doesn’t meet these requirements, however, acquiring citizenship for your child will require an additional process and additional fees. If you postpone or even forget to file for your child’s naturalization, your child may have difficulty getting college scholarships, working legally, voting, et cetera. In some cases, your child might actually be subject to possible deportation. Make plans right away to protect your child’s future.
Asia Legal Framework
According to recent research, certain Asian countries have been top origins of intercountry adoption, namely China, India, The Republic of Korea (South Korea), Vietnam etc. Yet Asian countries have different legal framework towards intercountry adoption.
Mainland China & Hong Kong SAR
As China has been party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) since 1 January 2006, all adoptions between China and another country must meet the requirements of the Convention and Chinese domestic law. This membership of Hague Adoption Convention is also applied to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region  as it is territory of People's Republic of China.
On the international level, China also have bilateral agreements with certain country, including Australia (The Family Law (Bilateral Agreements – Intercountry Adoption) Regulations 1998) etc.
Domestically, China has two major legislations directly responsible for international adoption affairs. One is Adoption Law of the People's Republic of China (Revised), which deals with general adoption issue. Its Article 21 is specifically linked to international adoption. The other document is Measures for Registration of Adoption of Children by Foreigners in the People's Republic of China, solely addressing international adoption issues. Moreover, Article 26 in Marriage Law of the People’s Republic of China, also defines adoption in China in a general manner. Another pertinent document is Measures of China Center of Adoption Affairs for Authorizing Foreign Adoption Organizations to Seek Adoptive Families for Children of Special Needs  Legally, the China Centre for Children’s Welfare and Adoptions (CCCWA)  (which is different from the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) is the only agency authorized by the Chinese government to regulate and process all inter-country adoptions from China. And China requires all inter-country adoption be handled through government approval instead of any individual application.
Having been one of the major sources of adoptive children, yet Taiwan is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption(Hague Adoption Convention).
Domestically, Taiwan has enforced The Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act  since May 30, 2012. And according to the Act, all the adoption cases in Taiwan shall consider the national adopter as priority. Besides, all the international adoption cases shall be matched via the legal adoption matching services agency. Except almost the same peer within six degrees of kinship of relatives and five degrees of kinship of relatives by marriage, or one of the couple adopts the other party’s children. Taiwan organizations which provide international adoption service work with foreign agency or governmental authority instead of individuals.
The Republic of Korea (South Korea)
The Republic of Korea (South Korea) is not party to Hague Adoption Convention. South Korea's law requires the use of an adoption agency for the overseas adoption of all Korean orphans, and requires that such agencies are authorized by The Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs.
On May 24, 2013, it signed the Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (the Convention). This is the first step for South Korea in becoming a Convention partner. Adoptions between the United States and South Korea, however, are not yet subject to the requirements of the Convention and relevant implementing laws and regulations. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, which will be designated as South Korea's Central Authority, there is no set date when South Korea will deliver its instrument of ratification or when the Convention will enter into force with respect to South Korea.
Domestically, the Republic of Korea (ROK) Special Adoption Act, which governs intercountry adoptions from South Korea, went into effect on August 5, 2012. This law prioritizes domestic adoptions and endeavors to reduce the number of South Korean children adopted abroad. Under the Special Adoption Act, each intercountry adoption requires the approval of the ROK Family Court.
India is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption(Hague Adoption Convention).
In January 2011, India implemented new procedures to provide more centralized processing of intercountry adoptions. In addition to the new guidelines, prospective adoptive parents should be aware of all Indian laws that apply to intercountry adoption. A child can be legally placed with the prospective adoptive parents under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956 (HAMA), the Guardians and Wards Act of 1890 (GAWA), or the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000 (JJA).
Vietnam is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention).
Domestically, Vietnam Government has promulgated the Law on Adoption  and it took effect from January 1, 2011. It contains 53 Articles, and addresses both domestic and intercountry adoption. Article 14 of the Vietnamese law outlines the requirements for adopters, which is also applicable to foreign adoptive parents.
International Adoption and National Laws in Africa
Much interest is shown for cases of international adoption in Africa especially after highly publicized stories of adoption of African children by celebrities like Madonna and Angelina Jolie. Legal frameworks on adoption in general and on international adoption in particular are available across Africa and may vary from one country to another. We give, here, an overview of legal provisions put into place by a couple of African countries as to reflect a diverse but not a comprehensive view on how the question of international adoption is dealt with on the African continent. We have decided to focus on countries for which bibliographical resources were immediately accessible.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
According to the DRC Family Code, an adopted holds the same rights as a biological child in the adopting family. Their links with original family are preserved. This regime is applied to simple adoption. As far as international adoption is concerned, the DRC Law does not provide a definition about specifically; but the judicial practice authorizes the adoption of Congolese children by foreign parents. Fundamental principles for any child adoption are defined by Law No. 09/001 from 10 January 2009 relating child protection, as follow:
- All children are entitled to adoption
- The adoption of a child by a foreigner can only happen when competent authorities from the origin state:
- Have verified, after having examined the social conditions in the origin state that the adoption is to be done in the best interest of the child.
- Have made sure that:
- The consent for adoption is not given in exchange with payment or any kind of compensation and that this consent was not later retrieved.
- The Child’s wishes and opinions have been taken into account in accordance with their age and level of maturity
- When the consent expressed by the child for their adoption, when it is required, is freely expressed in ways required by the law, and that this consent is given or recorded in a written form 
As for conditions to be met in the host state for a valid international adoption, article 19 of the Child Protection Code explains that the host state should certify that:
- The future parents are qualified and are capable of adopting children
- The adopted child is authorized to enter and reside permanently in the host country 
However, even though international adoption is allowed under fulfillment of the above-mentioned conditions, article 20 of the DRC Child Protection Code denies the right to adoption to homosexuals, pedophiles and mentally-ill people.
Existing data shows that, in Africa, Ethiopia has the highest number of adoptions into US families  Ethiopia does not make prior short or long residency in Ethiopia, a precondition for child adoption. However, Ethiopian authorities usually expect prospective parents to travel to Ethiopia before completing adoption process before local courts. The main requirements for international adoption in Ethiopia include:
- Age limits: future adoptive parents must be at least 25 years of age and at most 65 years old. Also, the age difference between the adopted child and adoptive parents should not exceed 40 years.
- Marriage: prospective adoptive parents who are married for more than 5 years may have better chance for adopting a child in Ethiopia. Unmarried women have recently been granted the right to adoption children in Ethiopia but unmarried men cannot adopt unless they are from Ethiopian descent.
- Financial capacity: parents who wish to adopt a child in Ethiopia must prove their financial ability before local courts. However there is not a minimum level of income that is required at the moment.
Like in the Democratic Republic of Congo, adoption of children by gay or lesbian individuals or couples is prohibited under Ethiopian Law.
As a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention), international adoption in Burkina Faso is done according to Hague Convention and its implementing legislation in Burkina Faso. Requirements for adoption in Burkina Faso are as follow:
- Residency: there is no residency requirement for parents who live abroad. For those reside in Burkina Faso, a minimum residence of 2 years is required
- Age: adopting parents must be 32 to 55 year-old and at least 15 years older than the child that they would like to adopt.
- Marriage: In order to adopt couples must be legally married for at least 5 years.
- Income: parents who seek to adopt a child must insert into their application a proof of sufficient funds for taking care of the child.
In common practice homosexuals are prohibited for children adoption in Burkina Faso even though it is not specifically written in the law.
Positive and Negative Consequences
Positive consequences of international adoption
In most cases, international adoption results from a child whose birth parents were unable to parent and provide for them in the environment of a family instead of an institution such as an orphanage. This can mean the difference between life and death. In other cases, the children may be saved from a life of desperation, abuse, and squalor. Every child needs a family. Further, adopted children are happier and healthier, mentally and physically, than are orphans who are not adopted.
From a legal perspective, it is argued that International Adoption serves Children's Most Basic Human rights, despite the existence of adoption abuses, and justification of both nationalism and heritage.
A recent study by Dutch professor Femmi Juffer challenges the notion that adoption hurts a child’s self-esteem in that adopted kids would unconsciously blame themselves for the loss of their birth families and on some level feel that they hadn't been good enough for their families to keep them. Juffer compiled data from 80 studies and concluded that adopted children are not at risk for low self-esteem, even in the case of interracial adoptions and international adoptions. Differences in race between a child and their adoptive parents did not matter and children from interracial/international-adoption families performed the same as children adopted into families of the same race/culture. In the long term cultural differences were not as problematic as expected, and even older adopted children, those thought to be the most difficult and more severely and permanently damaged, adjusted over time as well. Overall, although adoption may have initial adverse effects and negative experiences for childhood, the children are capable of change and development for the better. But Steven Nickman of Harvard Medical School, who recently[when?] did a review of the adoption literature, says that while Juffer's study is careful and methodologically sound, there are some limits to her research. Essentially, Nickman says, the study doesn't include any of the most difficult cases and as someone who works with adopted kids, Nickman knows that not all adoptions turn out well. Some are incredibly painful. Still, he finds Juffer's work encouraging.
Some research on China intercountry adoption has pointed out certain positive consequences of international adoption with a coverage of adoptee, adoptive parents, origin country and receiving country. Yet it may or may not be appropriate to generalize this specific lesson of China to a global scope.
- The adoptees (mainly orphans) from China substantially benefit from intercountry adoption:
- Generally they experience love and acceptance within their families, despite the fact that as they grow into adulthood, will also increasingly experience some tension over issues related to race and ethnicity. As a matter of child welfare policy, the world community has generally accepted the view that the costs of interracial, intercountry adoption are outweighed by the good of having children placed within a loving family as opposed to the alternative of long-term institutionalization.
- Disabled children, who are abandoned, probably receive better treatment after been adopted.
- Chinese girls, who are abandoned due to male-preference and One-Child Policy, would benefit psychologically from forming a family. They might also benefit from less gender discrimination.
- China benefit as a sending country, the large number of children adopted also reduce the burden of Chinese social welfare system.
- China has managed to secure significant amounts of adoption fees and donations from foreign adoptive parents and has specifically used these funds to significantly improve its social welfare system. These funds not only improve care of children who will be placed for adoption but also provide for significantly better care, education, and facilities for the many orphans who will grow up within Chinese institutions.
Negative consequences of international adoption
Allegations of corruption
Child trafficking is a broad term that refers to the buying, selling or illegal transportation of children with intent to harm the child, and therefore does not apply to adoption. Some organizations have alleged that orphanages modify documents to indicate a child's parents are dead when in fact the orphanage has not been able to locate the parents and relatives have never visited. In a few rare instances, allegations have been made that the children are stolen from the home; in other cases the children are left at orphanages for temporary care. Some agencies and orphanages have been accused of altering children's papers so that they meet the narrow legal definition of orphan and can then be adopted. In some cases the parents may even sell the children. This trafficking can occur anywhere but is most prominent in poorly regulated countries or where local corruption is a factor. Up to the end of 2007, Guatemala, was one of the top sources of adopted children, and was investigated for this sort of corruption. Guatemala changed the country's adoption law after massive international pressure, ratified the Hague-convention on intercountry adoptions, and the number of adoptions has fallen dramatically.
The vast majority of international adoptions are not tainted by corruption, however. It is extremely difficult for poor countries to produce the detailed paperwork necessary to complete an adoption, and the Hague Convention on International Adoption has created more problems than it has solved. Receiving nations such as the United States have implemented safeguards to ensure that adopted children are in fact legally available for adoption. Occasionally, the United States has suspended adoption from certain countries in order to investigate fraud and, where needed, require changes be made by the sending country.
Richard Cross, the lead federal investigator for the prosecution of Lauryn Galindo for visa fraud and money laundering involved in Cambodian adoptions, estimated that most of the 800 adoptions Galindo facilitated were fraudulent--either based on fraudulent paperwork, coerced/induced/recruited relinquishments, babies bought, identities of the children switched, etc.
However, this claim has never been verified and many who are familiar with Vietnamese adoptions at that time believe Cross' estimate is a gross exaggeration. The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption (short title for Convention #33) is one measure intended to further shield international adoption against corruption in adoption.
Loss of culture, family or identity
International adoption is a relatively new phenomenon when compared to domestic adoption. One of the debates in international adoption circles has been about the adopted child’s sense of belonging in their new country. Some believe that this is a particular concern for inter-racial adoptions. For example, Asian children who are adopted by Caucasians are of a recognizably different race than their adoptive parents, and might be expected to have a harder time fitting in than, say, a Russian child.
Nowadays, however, the children and adoptive parents are encouraged to explore their origins of birth. From birth parents to birth cultures, exploration is almost expected. For example, Korea holds “cultural training camps” where Korean adoptees are able to explore their birth country for the first time. Until recently, Korean adoptees were seen as outcasts, and these training camps are the Korean government’s way of changing the view of these “outcasts” to “overseas Koreans.” It has slowly shown positive results, and a closer kinship of adoptees to their birth country.
Questions still remain. Is it detrimental to a child’s well-being to keep them from getting to know their birth origin? Or are more problems caused by encouraging and allowing foreign adoptees to explore their birth culture? Also, how should the adoptive parents prepare to deal with a bi-racial family in which the adults are of one race while the child is of another? And how do we reconcile differences between adoptive parents' assumptions about adoption with adoptees' experiences of living with a condition that they were too young to decide on for themselves? As of right now, a critical mass of scholars, adoption professionals and community representatives are only beginning to explore these questions with the growing community groups made up of international adoptees (many who have finally now reached maturity). Anthropologists, for example, have very recently started to study the effects of kinship, belonging, culture, nation, and even genes and the roles they play in the upbringing of foreign adoptees. As Pauline Turner Strong said in an article in Relative Values: Reconfiguring Kinship Studies: "Adoption across political and cultural borders may simultaneously be an act of violence and an act of love, an excruciating rupture and a generous incorporation, an appropriation of valued resources and a constitution of personal ties.”
Scholarly accounts in journal articles, higher-degree studies and books by authors such as Toby Volkman, David Eng, Sara Dorow, Indigo Willing and Tobias Hubinette also suggest that adoption is a contested practice, with a variety of competing voices ranging from adoptive parents who not only adopt but also dominate published accounts of the practice, to those who have been internationally adopted and are now beginning to enter research fields focusing on adoption (such as members of the International Adoptee Congress Research Committee).
All these researchers now have the benefit of drawing on populations of the "first waves" of internationally adopted people who have now reached adulthood, as seen in the rise of Korean and Vietnamese adoptee groups. At the same time, it is hard to determine any sort of best practice in adoption if only based on conflicting research agendas, paradigms and narratives presented by psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists alike. More serious consultation with a range of internationally adopted people from various professional and community-work based backgrounds needs to be included before the field of adoption study is more truly representative and rigorously informed.
The origin of the child also plays a role in whether he or she will adjust to adoption well. Children from orphanages, for example, have rarely ever slept in a room by themselves at night. When they are adopted and given a room of their own, they show likelihood to develop sleeping problems and ill health can result from their adjustment. It helps if parents allow the child to sleep in their bedroom or in the bedroom of a sibling. Cultural backgrounds can affect adjustment as well. For example, children from Russia are in high demand in the adoption market in the United States. Because of this, the price to adopt a child from Russia is very high, and Russian adoption agencies have become more of a business than a method to provide for children in need. Before adoption, children are neglected in orphanages, often do not receive proper nutrition, and are used as a bartering tool to make money. When these children are adopted, they are likely to act out because of the negative treatment they received in their country of origin. Cultural treatment of children and political situations in countries affect children when they are adopted internationally. Even being of a different race than the adopted family can cause the adoptee to feel like a misfit.
Due to the appeal and otherwise obvious difficult issues presented by international adoption, the reform movement seeks to influence governments to adopt regulations that serve the best interest of the child and meet the interests of both the adoptive and biological family members. Significant advances have been made in increasing the regulation of International Adoptions. Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption
International adoption after a disaster
Of special note to international adoption are campaigns for adoptions that occur after disasters such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and wars. There is often an outpouring of adoption proposals in such cases from foreigners who want to give homes to children left in need. While adoption may be a way to provide stable, loving families for children in need, it is also suggested that adoption in the immediate aftermath of trauma or upheaval may not be the best option. Moving children too quickly into new adoptive homes among strangers may be a mistake because it may turn out that the parents survived and were unable to find the children or there may be a relative or neighbor who can offer shelter and homes. Providing safety and emotional support may be better in those situations than immediate relocation to a new adoptive family. There is an increased risk, immediately following a disaster, that displaced and/or orphaned children may be more vulnerable to exploitation and child trafficking.
- Effects of adoption on the birth-mother
- International adoption of South Korean children
- International adoption of Haitian children
- List of international adoption scandals
- Korea to Haiti: Lessons in Overseas Adoption Corruption by Jennifer Kwon Dobbs from Conducive Magazine http://www.conducivemag.com/2010/03/korea-to-haiti-lessons-in-overseas-adoption-corruption-2/
- International Adoptions Struggle for Hollywood Endings by Natalie Cherot from Pacific Standard http://www.psmag.com/culture-society/international-adoptions-struggle-for-hollywood-endings-4780/
- Who are the 143 Million Orphans by Mirah Riben in Conducive Magazine http://www.conducivemag.com/2010/01/editorial-who-are-the-143-million-orphans/
- Aida Alami (July 26, 2013). "Moroccan adoption rules leave kids in limbo". Al Jazeera. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
- ADOPTION: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO ADOPTING QUICKLY AND SAFELY, by Randall Hicks, Perigee Press 2007
- "Adoption: Before Your Child Immigrates to the United States". United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. September 2, 2009. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
- Selman, P. (2013) Key Tables for Intercountry Adoption: Receiving States 2003-2012 ; States of Origin 2003-2011, http://www.hcch.net/upload/2013selmanstats33.pdf
- Selman, Peter. “The Rise and Fall of Intercountry Adoption in the 21st Century.” International Social Work 52 (5): 575–594.
- FY (Fiscal Year) 2012 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption
- FY (Fiscal Year) 2012 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption, U.S. State Department
- source: the statistics section of International Adoption, under the US Government, http://adoption.state.gov/about_us/statistics.php, select "All Countries" for detailed figure
- source: the statistics section of International Adoption, under the US Government, http://adoption.state.gov/about_us/statistics.php, select "All Countries" and different years for detailed figure and comparison
- Information Packet: The Adoption of Chinese Girls by American Families, National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning (2003), http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/downloads/information_packets/chinese-girls-adopted-by-americans.pdf
- source: the statistics section of International Adoption, under the US Government, http://adoption.state.gov/about_us/statistics.php, select "India" for detailed figure
- source: the statistics section of International Adoption, under the US Government, http://adoption.state.gov/about_us/statistics.php, select "South Korea" for detailed figure
- "Russians march against adoption ban". 3 News NZ. January 14, 2013.
- Trevor Buck ,“International Child Law”,New York : Routledge, 2011
- Resolution A/RES/41/85
- United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 2171, No. 27531, p. 227
- Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption; http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=conventions.text&cid=69
- Isabelle Lammerant, Marlène Hofstetter, “Adoption: at what cost? For an ethical responsibility of receiving countries in intercountry adoption”, Terre des homes, 2007; HCCH 2008) The implementation and Operation of the 1993 Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention: Guide to Good Practice – Guide No. 1, Bristol: Family Law/Jordan Publishing Ltd
- Isabelle Lammerant, Marlène Hofstetter, “Adoption: at what cost? For an ethical responsibility of receiving countries in intercountry adoption”, Terre des homes, 2007
- UNDP, Child Adoption. Trends and Policies Report, 2009
- United Nations, “Second Periodic reports of States parties due in 1998, Rwanda (CRC/C/70/Add22)
- Elizabeth Bartholet, International Adoption: Current Status and Future Prospects, 1993, p. 95
- Child Adoption: Trends and Policies, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, United Nations, New York, 2009, pg 60 http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/adoption2010/child_adoption.pdf pg
- See United States, Government Accountability Office, “Foreign affairs: agencies have improved the intercountry adoption process, but further enhancements are needed” (Report No. GAO-06-133). Available from http://www.gao.gov/htext/d06133.html (accessed 25 November 2013).
- http://adoption.state.gov/about_us/statistics.php (Accessed 25 November 2013)
- Selman, P. (2013) Key Tables for Intercountry Adoption: Receiving States 2003-2012 ; States of Origin 2003-2011 http://www.hcch.net/upload/2013selmanstats33.pdf
- Adoption Notice: The Republic of Korea Signs the Hague Adoption Convention http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=notices&alert_notice_file=south_korea_2
- Notice: Korea Begins Implementing Special Adoption Act, http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=notices&alert_notice_file=south_korea_1
- art. 18, Law No. 09/001 from 10 January 2009 relating child protection
- Art. 18 Child Protection Code, Official Journal of the DRC, 25 May 2009, p.10
- Art. 19 Child Protection Code, Official Journal 25 May 2009, p.10; Ndomba K., E. L., Family Code, 2010, pp. XII, 218
- Breuning 2009:6
- The Irreducible Needs of Children: What Every Child Must Have to Grow, Learn, and Flourish; 2000 by T. Berry Brazelton, M.D. and Stanley I. Greenspan, MD; ISBN 0-7382-0516-8
- Brodzinsky, D. M. "Long-Term Outcomes in Adoption." The Future of Children 3, 1993
- Bartholet, Elizabeth. "International adoption: The human rights position." Global Policy 1.1 (2010): 91-100.
- "Study: Adoption Not Harmful to Child's Self-Esteem," NPR
- Main arguments are borrowed from: Luo, Nili, and David M Smolin. 2004. “Intercountry Adoption and China: Emerging Questions and Developing Chinese Perspectives.” Cumb. L. Rev. 35: 597. http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/cumlr35&div=26&id=&page=
- Johnson, Kay. 2002. “Politics of International and Domestic Adoption in China.” Law & Society Review 36 (2) (January 1): 379–396. doi:10.2307/1512181.
- David Smolin, Works at bepress legal repository, at 
- Washington Post, Guatemala adoption investigation, at
- Desiree Smolin and David Kruchkow, Why Bad Stories Must Be Told, The Adoption Agency Checklist, 
- Full lecture of special agent Richard Cross Richard Cross's full video and audio lecture available here
- Marre, Diana and Laura Briggs. International adoption: global inequalities and the circulation of children.
- Adopting Internationally.com
- Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
- The Adoption Board
- The Adoption Board
- Rosenberg, Elinor B., The Adoption Life Cycle: the children and their families through the years, New York: Free Press; Toronto: Maxwell Macmillan Canada; New York: Maxwell Macmillan International, 1992. ISBN 0-02-927055-3.
- Hague Conference - Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption
- David M. Smolin - Child Laundering: How the Intercountry Adoption System Legitimizes and Incentivizes the Practices of Buying, Trafficking, Kidnapping, and Stealing Children.