Expert: “International adoption should be abolished as soon as possible ‘

Google translation from Danish
by Simone Okkels
13 February 2014
Adoptions maintains weak social structures in sending countries. One of the reasons why the area should be completely re-thought, if not it should be abolished, according to adoption researcher.

Over the past 50 years, thousands of foreign children came to Denmark to get a fresh start and a new family. Adoption has been the answer to infertility and a form of global responsibility, but adoption is not as rosy as it is made to believe says adoption researcher Merete Laubjerg from the Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen.

‘Women in other countries do not have the same rights as us, and that we use. It stops countries in developing areas to provide opportunities for the family to keep the baby. Because of adoption, the need for a child arises and a market. The trafficking of children,” she says.

It is about cases like that of the Ethiopian children Masho and Roba, which started the debate back in 2012. The children’s biological parents were persuaded to have their children adopted, and it is not a unique case. Because when adoption agencies are actively looking for children, the need for other countries to have children available for adoption increases, says Merete Laubjerg. And why does she not think that private organizations should mediate adoptions.

“When a person changes nationality, it is clearly a state responsibility. It cannot be outsourced to private companies,” she says.

As it is now, it are the two biggest Danish adoption organisations DanAdopt and AC International Child Support that bring children to Denmark under the supervision of the State. Adoptions should be in the hands of the State, Merete Laubjerg wants to have lawyers and individuals with a focus on human rights and children rights to supervise the children.

‘If it took place between the state and receiving country would be better able to avoid the emergence of this desire in sending countries to give children away. But when you can get money for it, there is a market. It should be the sending country that caters to any recipient country to say they need a parent for a child and not vice versa,” she says.

Merete Laubjerg would prefer that we are working on finding alternatives available for adoption in the child’s home country. Because adoption deprives children of their identity, she says.

“We cannot ignore our own greed and see if there are other ways to help children in the world. For example, being a sponsor for a family or a child. I have worked in many countries over the past 30 years and people can be happy regardless of wealth. There are 100 other ways to do something for the children,” she says.

“International adoption should be abolished as soon as possible.”

Supports ‘terrible social structures’

In Adoption Policy Forum, a forum for adult adoptees who want a more nuanced adoption debate here at home, one of the founders Anders Riel Müller, considers it not necessary that adoption should be abolished. He is skeptical about if the state should take over the area. He’s adopted from South Korea, but as you might read in Wednesday’s newspaper, it was not an adoption without any problems.

“It requires a very careful consideration of how they will continue adoption in Denmark. To be in state hands, who will supervise? The state has the need to supervise the area and when cases like Masho take place, they are surely not as sharp in their supervision,” he said.

He believes the system must be re-evaluated and as Merete Laubjerg he thinks it helps maintaining “some terrible social structures,” as he puts it. “I have found out that the idea that I’d would have grown up in poverty, if I had not been given up for adoption, does not hold. Today, my Korean family is ordinary middle class. And then I found out how adoptions from at least South Korea support discrimination against the poor and single mothers,” he said. In South Korea single women are today still stigmatized if they become pregnant. Therefore, there are special home for single mothers. Some of these homes are run by adoption. From here, eight out of ten children, according to Anders Riel Müller, are put up for adoption. In the other homes, whcih are not operated by agencies, the figure is two out of ten.” They are of course clearly working on the mothers. The system is set up for adoption services. Among other things, therefore, it is important to create a balance in the debate on adoption,” he said.

Closer cooperation with countries

Who will continue to take the lead in adoption in Denmark, is not the most important for the association Adoption & Society, representing Danish adoptive families.

“It is clear that things have changed. Especially when we look at the economy. It cannot continue. It is, strictly speaking, so that only rich people can adopt today. There are some important basic parameters, we must have a look at. But it must be in a more central frame than now, or one should find other ways to strengthen the organizations that are critical for us, “said President Jens Damkjær.

“The important thing for us is that the mediation of the children is legally and ethically correct. In the future, this means closer cooperation with sending countries from the very first start.”