The Stream

The challenges of international adoption

What happens when adoptees can’t adapt.

Bringing a child home is a life changing event, but when that child has crossed borders to come into a family’s life the challenges of upbringing may sometimes be insurmountable.

From the end of World War II until 2004, the number of international adoptions by Americans rose steadily, and in 2004 almost 23,000 children were adopted from overseas. Children arrived from China, Russia, Guatemala, South Korea, Ukraine, Colombia and Ethiopia. Over the past decade there has been a rapid decline in many of the receiving countries.

This may be due, in part, to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The treaty imposes mandatory waiting periods, residency requirements for adoptive parents and a preference for domestic adoption.

There has also been a cultural shift. Adoption experts have moved from telling parents to assimilate their adopted children, to encouraging them to talk openly about their adoption, racial differences and child’s birth culture.

The international adoption system can be murky. Critics say it is not in the best interests of children to be adopted by families from another country and to grow up outside their native culture. But supporters insist if children are given a loving home, that in itself is in a child’s best interest.

On the Stream we’ll speak to adoptees about who and what they call home.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Heran Tadesse
Ethiopian adoptee to the Netherlands

Kasper Eriksen
Korean adoptee to Denmark

Elizabeth Bartholet
Director, Child Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School

Hollee McGinnis @alsoknownasinc
Founder, Also-Known-As Inc

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.