Social Justice and Intercountry Adoptions: The Role of the US Social Work Community

Social work (Impact Factor: 1.15). 10/2013; 58(4):295-303. DOI: 10.1093/sw/swt033
Source: PubMed


Using social justice as the conceptual foundation, the authors present the structural barriers to socially just intercountry adoptions (ICAs) that can exploit and oppress vulnerable children and families participating in ICAs. They argue that such practices threaten the integrity of social work practice in that arena and the survival of ICA as a placement option. Government structures, disparity of power between countries and families on both sides, perceptions regarding poverty, cultural incompetence, misconceptions about orphans and orphanages, lack of knowledge about the impact of institution-based care, and the profit motive are driving forces behind the growing shadow of unethical ICAs. The U.S. social work community has a large role and responsibility in addressing these concerns as the United States receives the most children adopted through ICAs of all receiving countries. In addition to the centrality of social justice as a core value of the profession, the responsibility to carry out ethical and socially just ICA has recently increased as a matter of law, under the implementation legislation to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. While acknowledging that these issues are complex, authors provide suggestions for corrective policy and practice measures.

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    ABSTRACT: This article reviews the history of domestic and international adoption, examines international agreements and U.S. statutes that govern intercountry adoption, and assesses the current landscape of adoption agency practice, with major emphasis on the United States. The article focuses specifically on environmental factors that have driven change in both practice and policy concerning international adoption. The theoretical lens of population ecology offers a helpful perspective on the demographic and cultural trends that have transformed adoption and adoption agencies, particularly as they shifted toward international placements beginning in the mid-twentieth century.
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