I recently got drawn into a passionate debate on a friend's Facebook page about whether or not UNICEF harbors a real but hidden agenda of opposition to inter-country adoption. I personally believe that the only reason that UNICEF doesn't openly and officially oppose inter-country adoption is the fear of political push back from the US and other Western nations whose citizens adopt thousands of children from the developing world each year.
What do you think about this blog post from Andrea Poe at The Washington Times? Poe writes:
What’s so disappointing about UNICEF’s position is that for years the organization has been a leader in child welfare around the world. The work that they do to help feed and immunize children is unimpeachable. And perhaps this is the problem. The organization’s success in this area has jaundiced UNICEF’s view on adoption.
Arbitrary national borders on a map have become a greater priority to UNICEF than the complicated issues of placing children with safe, loving families wherever those families may be.
UNICEF has repeatedly stated that it prefers the expansion of social welfare programs for poor families within countries, so that children can stay in kinship groups. The practical outcome has been that unparented children are being denied the best homes so that UNICEF can score cheap points in the international arena about the insufficient aid poor countries receive. The pawns here are the children.
Harvard Law School’s Elizabeth Bartholet, an adoptive parent herself and a well-regarded child advocate, has publicly stated that “international adoption is under siege,” largely because of UNICEF’s unrelenting assault on inter-country adoption.
In Batholet’s paper International Adoption: The Human Rights Position she writes, “Preferences for what UNICEF calls permanent family or foster care [in country] are dangerous. UNICEF’s argument is that such care could preserve children’s birth and national heritage links. But foster care doesn’t exist as a meaningful option in most sending countries – unparented children are instead relegated to orphanages. UNICEF wants foster care expanded, but denying children adoptive homes now because in the future foster care might exist is unfair to existing children.”
The influence of UNICEF on the world community cannot be overstated. It has used its reputation as a leader in children welfare to lobby countries, including the United States, to reduce the number of inter-country adoptions. The results have had dire consequences for children around the world.