Some critics of international adoption take issue with what they see as Westerners “taking away” other countries’ most valued resource, their youngest generation. They see the adoption of children and their removal from their nations of origin as a bandage approach to a much larger problem that leads to a surplus of children unable to be adopted within their own country.
The claim is that if humanitarian concern is a driving force for those wanting to adopt internationally, then a more broad-reaching approach should be employed, one that would address the underlying causes of children being separated from their parents in the first place. War, health epidemics, extreme poverty, or restrictive family laws often result in orphanages overflowing with children being adopted abroad. Yet while the adoption may help the specific child in finding a forever family, it does nothing to address the cycle of societal abuse or neglect that tears families apart.
Other critics of international adoption take issue with how separating children from their country of birth, their original culture, native speakers of their mother tongue is a disservice to the children themselves. Especially when the child and the adoptive parents are of different races or ethnicities, there is concern that the parents are simply not equipped to prepare a minority child for racism if they haven’t experienced it first-hand. In addition, the loss of familiar foods, traditions, and language can be traumatic for a child who is old enough to have started to form their identity around these features.
Not all international adoption critics focus on foreign nations or children. Instead, some are concerned with the effect of international adoption on orphaned children in the United States. These critics believe that adopting a child from abroad is the same as not adopting a child waiting for an adoptive family in the US foster care system. They would prefer to see local children’s needs addressed first.
The main thing to keep in mind is that, when it comes to parenting, there is always bound to be someone with an opinion contrary to one’s own, someone who thinks they know better, someone who will look down their nose on others.
Yet in spite of the naysayers, there are many reasons to adopt a child internationally. Some people find the certainty of the child’s birth parents’ parental rights being terminated a huge relief. They cannot imagine taking a risk of an adoption disruption if their child’s birth family were to change their minds and want to parent their child after all. This can happen with both domestic newborn and foster care adoption.
Also, while travel may be overwhelmingly stressful for some, it is an anticipated adventure for others. These people view adopting from abroad as a fun undertaking that provides for a wonderful coming-home story for their to-be-adopted child. They may have personal ties to the child’s country of birth, and therefore don’t see it quite as foreign a venture as some might expect.
In the same vein, many parents adopting internationally look forward to the opportunity and excuse to include an additional culture into their family. They intend to incorporate the child’s birth culture in various ways, such as through native foods, traditions, key phrases in the native language, and even heritage tours or visits back.
In the end, families formed or expanded by international adoption are like little United Nations. The various cultures of origin are each respected in their own right, and none are considered superior to the others. Growing up in a well-prepared internationally adoptive family is fertile ground for raising citizens of the world. That alone is a great reason to consider international adoption when thinking about from where to adopt.
Credits: Karolina Maria
To see local International Adoption resources, please select a location (U.S. only):
Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.