International Adoptions

International adoptions are in the news currently.

The Hollywood actress, Angelina Jolie, wants to adopt an Indian child.

‘When child actor Azharuddin Mohammed, of Slumdog Millionaire fame, met Jolie at the Oscars last month, he asked her whether she would consider adopting a child from India.

She reportedly told him,”Well, I’ll let you into a little secret, we will soon.”

‘Angelina, 33, and Brad already raise three adopted children together – Maddox, eight, from Cambodia, Pax, five, from Vietnam and Zahara, four, from Ethiopia’.

Pop star Madonna, is adopting a baby girl from Malawi

‘An official at the Malawian department of women and child welfare told the BBC’s Raphael Tenthani that the pop star had already filed adoption papers and her case could be heard as early as next week’.

‘The 14-month-old baby will be a sister to David Banda, the first child Madonna adopted from the African country.’

But these are adoptions by high-profile people that attract a great deal of publicity. There are many adoptions taking place without much publicity. There is a growing trend in western countries, of adopting children from Asian or Africa countries.

But not everyone agrees that this trend is desirable.

The UN children’s agency, Unicef, warns that lack of legal oversight in some countries “has spurred the growth of an industry around adoption, where profit, rather than the best interests of children, take centre stage”.

Not all of the children adopted are orphans. Some parents put up their children for adoption because they are unable to raise them due to poverty. Sometimes they give up their children for large amounts of money.

There is also the problem of keeping the child’s sense of identity intact.

David Holmes, chief executive of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, points out that inter-country adopters face “huge challenges”.

They will need to consider how best to reinforce the child’s ethnic and cultural heritage and their sense of identity,” he says. “Every adoption has challenges but this is the additional dimension.”

International adoption has a seamier side, too. Last August, the C.B.I. unearthed a lucrative racket of selling Indian children abroad for adoption.

‘A case has been registered against the Malaysian Social Service, a Chennai-based private company licensed by the Indian government, for having sent at least 120 children for adoption abroad.

Street children were kidnapped for a mere Rs.500 and given for adoption abroad for sums ranging from as low as Rs.10,000 to as high as $10,000 per child, a CBI official said.’

In neighbouring Nepal, International adoptions were temporarily suspended a couple of years ago.

A report by Unicef and a Swiss child relief agency said that ‘sale, abduction and trafficking of children is taking place in Nepal and the government needs to do more to encourage adoption by domestic families’.

Only four out of every 100 adopted children were adopted by Nepali families, the report said.

Should Asian/ African countries allow their children to be adopted abroad? A tough question indeed!



  1. Manju, I have always had mixed feelings when I hear of international adoptions… It certainly seems very confusing.. But the ‘seamier side’ is truly scary.. I mean, in order to fill the demand – it is scary if children are kidnapped or abducted! Very tough question indeed – as some children may actually benefit – but kidnap? And again, I read somewhere that the girl, who Madonna plans to adopt, has a grandmother who is opposed to it.. All very confusing..


  2. Kidnapping for adoption is a big no-no but otherwise, I don’t see a problem as long as the adoptive parents have been screened properly…


  3. Smitha- The first child that Madonna adopted is not an orphan- his father is still living. There were conflicting reports at the time, some saying that the father was happy to know that his son would have a ‘better life’ with his new family, and some saying that he had not known what he was signing when he signed the adopton papers.


  4. Bones- My personal opinion is that as far as possible a child should not be uprooted from his country when he is adopted.But I know many people do not agree with this view, and feel that if the child will get a better life, international adoptions should be allowed.


  5. Manju, I tend to agree with Bones. If a caring foster parent can bring hope and joy into the life of a child, it does not really matter where he is from. Yes, it needs to be ensured that children are not trafficked or exploited.


  6. I have 2 Canadian friends that have chosen to adopt. They are caucasian middle class couples. In Canada, there is very little local adoption. The wait list is many many years for a healthy child. The wait is much shorter to adopt a child with disabilities.One couple has adopted one Canadian child with fetal alcohol syndrome and 2 girls from China. The chinese babies are not orphaned. Since the Chinese government is controlling the number of children a family can have, girls are brought to orphanages because families want sons.Another couple has adopted 2 children from Haiti. Their first son was orphaned due to poverty in Port au Prince. Family occasionally visited him in the first 11 months of his life. Their second child was a newborn daughter. Her mother died from the birth, living in a jungle village. The father and extended family walked 6 days through the jungle to the city to rescind the infant to the orphanage. She has a living father, grandparents, and siblings in Haiti too.Both of these families are wonderful caring people and belong to groups of people in the same situation. The families meet often at picnics and gatherings like “Haitian family picnics” So kids and parents can bond and share stories.In an ideal world, these couples wouldn’t have been infertile and these children wouldn’t have been born into such unfortunate circumstances. However, these children are very loved and well cared for. They couldn’t ask for better parents.


  7. Vinodji- I agree, it does not really matter where a child comes from if the foster parents are caring. I do understand your viewpoint.However, I am of the opinion that a child should not be taken away from his native environment if there is a choice of foster parents.If the choice is between an orphanage or parents, then of course any caring parents would be preferable.


  8. Weeble- I am sure that the parents as well as the adopted children that you have mentioned are doing very well. There is another side to everything, though. If, as you say there is a demand from prospective foster parents from western countries, could not that be a factor causing the traficking of children in Asian countries?


  9. Anything is possible. I believe the girls in China are genuinely “discarded”. In Haiti however, I witnessed that my friends were “held hostage” by the orphanage. The government had put a 6 or 7 month moratorium on international adoptions. After they had “adopted” their son. The orphanage continued with updates saying he was very sick and they didn’t have money to care for him. They sent a lot of money to “save” their son. When they brought him back, at 11 1/2 months old, he could not sit or crawl and was not used to any solid foods.We have a similar problem in our own country with caucasian families adopting first nation (indian) children. The tribal governments want their own people to take care of the problem, but there is so much poverty and drug/alcohol addiction on the reserves that they need help from the rest of the Canadian community.I believe that ideally there would be families knocking down the doors to adopt the children from their own culture, but that isn’t happening in great enough numbers. Like everything in this world, it’s not black and white, but so many varying shades of grey.


  10. Weeble- Please don’t misunderstand me. Your friends are bringing joy into the lives of their adopted children by welcoming them into their families. When I say children from India should preferably be placed in Indian homes if possible, I am talking about the policy of our government, not individual cases.Kavi- It’s a knotty question. Corruption and greed makes child trafficking possible.


  11. Its hard to know which adults are doing it for the right reasons. I have two friends who are considering adopting – one from Nepal and one from El Salvador, both are wonderful women and I know they will be excellent parents. They have their own reasons for the choice of country. On the other hand, you have Ms. Jolie, I admire her ability and big heart to welcome more children in her life because along with the publicity also comes great responsibility…still why didnt she think of adopting a child from India two years ago, why only after meeting the Slumdog kids did it cross her mind?


  12. I would go with Bones here. In US there is also a concept of foster parents where in a child is taken away from an unfit parent and taken care by foster parents. At least much better than being neglected. Children adapt very fast. I don’t think it matters who the parents are. I have a friend here, an American couple who adopted 4 children from India + 2 of their biological children. All 6 get equal education and doing good. 2 children were adopted when they were big so they didn’t know English. One is Marathi and one is Bengali so they gave them extra coaching and now the kids are doing great. Other than the color, all 6 are treated and taken care well.


  13. Manju, don’t worry, I believe I entirely understand where you are coming from. I think it would be the ideal situation for any child to stay immersed in it’s native culture in a healthy nurturing home. It is my most sincere wish that all Indian children can be cared for by Indian families.


  14. SSQuo- Welcome!I agree that it’s hard to know which adults are adopting for the right reasons. I think the same goes for which parents are giving up their children for the right reasons.Solilo- In developed countries such as the U.S. the practice of taking children from unfit parents and putting them in foster care seems to have worked well. It would be great if something like this was in place here in India.Of course widespread poverty and the sheer number of children in adverse circumstances would make this impossible.You are right that children adapt fast. If we look at individuals cases the transition is generally successful for the children.


  15. Thank you, all, for your responses.I see that I am in a minority here about preferring that orphan Indian children be placed with Indian parents for adoption. I have to concede that I am outnumbered on this point. :)About the children that have parents- how poor is poor enough for parents to give up their child- this is a vexing question. I don’t think there is an easy answer.If my child has an illness for which he has to go abroad for treatment, will it be okay for me to give my child in adoption- assuming that I am able to provide my child the basic necessities but am not rich enough to send him abroad?Weeble’s reference to first nation children made me think of the problem regarding policies about indegenous people. I think that will be the subject of my next post.


  16. Like everyone has said yeah doesnt matter where the kids are adopted as long as they get love and care:)But kidnapping and trafficking:((You added a clock and changed font colours:))its looking pretty:))


  17. hitch writer- You are with the majority! 🙂 Follow-up visits by social workers to ascertain if the child is really cared for will be difficult, though, if he is adopted out of the country.Indyeah- What about my question? 🙂 If I am a middle-class woman who cannot send my child to have a medical procedure done abroad, do I give him in adoption to someone abroad who will take care of him? How poor is poor enough?


  18. yeah but then that is not adoption in the real sense is it?that is like a majboori..I mean parents are well and good and present and yet due to lack of funds , the child will be given up for adoption…but then who will adopt the child knowing fully well that there are parents who were forced to give him/her up due to problems and not out of choice?Then it becomes a lot about love…the biological parents are acting out ot lovebut its hard to imagine such a scenario…


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