Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

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[BRIEF NOTE] What Concerns Me About Some Intercountry Adoptions

Hot on the heels of the decision of Romania to limit inter-country adoptions, the Christian Science Monitor reports that Russia is following suit. I last wrote about this issue in February, when I made an ill-thought post supporting the Romanian legislation. I wasn't able to effectively articulate what really bothered me about the issue at the time. It only came to me today that I felt much the same way about child labour in factories.

It isn't a stretch to compare the two situations. Both, after all, are ways of incorporating minors born in communities lying outside the privileged developed world into our privileged circles. Critics of child labour suggest that children should be removed immediately from factory work; their opponents argue with some reason that keeping minors from working in factories could harm their well-being, that removing them from factories won't improve their standards of living but that it will forced these deprived children to take more difficult and dangerous jobs. Whenever proposals are advanced to try to prepare these children for something better--to provide them with a modicum of education, or some job security, or something extra--these opponents seem inclined to reluctantly implement these proposals if these are implemented at all. It might well be true that child factory workers are enjoying the best of all possible situations. It also seems to be true that this is a classic example of damning a situation with faint praise. A non-catastrophic situation isn't automatically a good situation, after all, and we rich consumers do bear some responsibility for the fate of those Bangladeshi children who make our T-shirts.

What I think provoked me to write that post back in February was a sense that proponents of intercountry adoption without restriction weren't acknowledging that there are serious problems, and were opposing certain changes to the various relevant systems. Some sort of effective monitoring system would be nice; some acknowledgement that, for the children who still maintain contact with their birth families, removing them to live with adoptive parents in a foreign country might not be the best idea; even recognition that the corrupt and/or ineffective state bureaucracies charged with supervising potential adoptees can easily cock things up and that we should be critical of them would be nice. If we--by which I mean the potential pool of would-be parents interested in adopting children from poorer countries in the world--support these mechanisms uncritically, even out of an honest desire to help as many children as possible, we surely should accept responsibility for tragic stories like that of Alexandra and try to avoid repetitions. All free markets require regulation, after all.
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