Friday, September 5, 2008

Hague's Impact Domestically

As a result of the Hague Adoption Convention, ratified in December, 2007, which standardizes policies and protocols for international adoption, adoptions by Americans of children from other countries has slowed dramatically.

Maybe this is good news for the 120,000 children in this country’s foster care system who wait to be adopted. They are not the healthy babies or toddlers often associated with adoption; they are usually school aged, some are teenagers, and they may be brothers and sisters who want to be adopted together. Some have emotional issues; others have physical or mental disabilities. But they all need families, and if you ask families who have adopted children like them, they invariably say they regret they didn’t do it sooner.

Advantages of adopting these children include:

• Cost—while international adoptions usually cost more than $20,000, there is virtually no cost to adopting from the foster care system
• Ease of adoption—there is no need to travel to another country, sometimes more than once, and to go through extensive immigration and naturalization procedures
• More information available on children—While information about the children’s background and medical history is scant when adopting from other countries, adoption agencies here make every effort to get complete medical and background information on the children in foster care, back to infancy

We want to see every child who needs a home find one no matter where in the world he or she lives. But the rush to adopt children from Russia and Guatemala and China and Roumania has shortchanged the children right here in our own country who need families. Some of them have been waiting for years. As one ten-year-old boy put it, “I’m a good boy. Why doesn’t anyone want me?”

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