Dutch Ministry of Justice: intercountry adoption is NOT child protection

1 July 2015

The Dutch adoption agencies sent on 27 June 2014 a set of recommendations LINK to the Dutch Minister of Justice on how to better regulate intercountry adoptions.  It is interesting reading. After numerous scandals and a decrease of some 70 % over the last 10 years, the Dutch agencies propose less monitoring, self regulation etc.

But let’s look at the heart of the issue. The agencies start their reasoning with the following statement.

Adoption is an important measure of child protection.

On 28 May 2015, Secretary of State of Justice K.H.D.M. Dijkhoff, cleared that issue.  LINK

Here the informal translation of his reply:

“First of all I feel the need to clarify how adoption is related to a child protection measure. In case of intercountry adoption, the interest of the child is the first and most important consideration. This does, however, not mean that intercountry adoption can be equalled to a measure of child protection as can be applied to children in the Netherlands. The Netherlands has the responsibility to provide for the protection of children here in the country. Through a measure of child supervision or termination of parental powers, a judge can interfere for children who are threatened in their development in the Netherlands.

The reason for legislation in relation to adoption of foreign children was not based in the obligation of the Dutch state towards foreign children, or a felt necessity to provide protection for children in other countries in a similar way. At the time, the reason was a necessity to regulate the existing adoption practices and to create conditions in which intercountry adoption could take place. In doing so the interest of the child has been at the centre. I see the role and responsibility of the Dutch authorities in intercountry adoptions in the light of ensuring a careful procedure, in which the interest of the child is respected.

In short, the point of departure is different: where in the Netherlands the situation of the child is decisive for the measure to be taken, with intercountry adoption it is of importance that the prospective adoptive parents here in the country are well informed and screened and that there is sufficient clarity on the medical and psychosocial situation of the child and the carefulness of the procedure in the country of origin.”

In summary:  Intercountry adoption is NOT a measure of child protection.  It is a way to get children legally into the Netherlands.
ACT welcomes the Dutch Ministry of Justice’s clarification.  The part on “intercountry adoption is not a measure of child protection” is fully in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This position had 11 years ago already been confirmed by the Independent Panel of EU Experts on Family Law LINK :

Summary The Panel’s position is a legal and not a political opinion. The reference, guide and basis for its opinion are the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Also the practices in the EU Member States served as reference.
Intercountry adoption cannot be considered as a protection measure.


ACT respectfully disagrees with the Dutch Ministry of Justice when saying the interest of the child is central in intercountry adoptions. As explained by the Ministry, intercountry adoptions were regulated because of the existing practices. It was a way to regulate what was going wrong. Regulating the outcome of practices that were the result of the demand for children. Not the result of the needs of children.
By the way, national adoption also should not be considered as child protection.  ACT wrote about that before:

ADOPTION: To Be Child Protection, Or Not To Be Child Protection