Corruption in International Adoption: A discussion regarding the term corruption in context & cult


Corruption in International Adoption: A discussion regarding the term corruption in context and culture

First and foremost, I want to say that unethical behaviors or procedures in the adoption process hurt most the most vulnerable children in our world, the orphan. In the past 10 years of international adoption our government and other foreign governments have identified numerous situations in which the term “corruption” was referenced. It is important to understand the use of this terminology and the spectrum of unethical behavior that is referenced in this term. The mere use of this word causes swift and dramatic reactions, which may very well be appropriate. However, a better understanding of the term in the international adoption context and foreign culture is important. The following are situations that have come to light in the past few years that were termed “corruption” in the international adoptions process (none of these stories were personally associated with me or anyone at MLJ Adoptions):

1. A birth mother was given $300 by an orphanage when she abandoned her child to the orphanage thus making the child available for international adoption;

2. An adoption professional brought child to US on orphan visa for one family but intended to disrupt the adoption of that family and readopt with a different family (misrepresentation to US Immigration Services);

3. A birth mother was given a bag of rice by social services when she abandoned her child;

4. An individual took children for adoption from one country into another foreign country in an attempt to avoid immigration procedures;

5. Official documents were tampered with, created or changed in order to fulfill process requirements when documents were not available in the country;

6. Foreign service provider (attorney) charged money for an adoption and never processed the adoption;

7. Individuals posted pictures of a child that was homeless but living with her parents and indicated the child was available for adoption (the laws in that country only allow for government officials to identify children available for adoption);

8. Biological parents were told their children were going away for school but did not understand that an adoption was a full and final termination of their rights; and

9. A government official requested $250 to sign a document that day or no money to let it sit and wait execution for several weeks (the $250 was not an official government expediting fee).

As you can see from the examples, “corruption” comes in many forms and many extremes. In several of the examples above, the child was an orphan and should be available for international or domestic adoption but due to the unethical actions during the process, the child’s ability to be adopted was jeopardized.

The most significant question that US officials have to determine is if customary gifts or expediting fees will jeopardize a child’s right to be adopted. The problem is you cannot have “grey” in these areas when it comes to international adoption and therefore, often a senseless and customary gift could be considered corruption. We here in the US do similar customs; however, they seem normal to us. For example, sending Christmas gifts to the Court or other “thank you” gift to someone that helped in your adoption. It is normal or customary to provide an expediting fee in all forms of government in most impoverished countries. However, there needs to be a collaborative effort with our government, adoption professionals and foreign governments and adoption professionals to end any customary practices that would be deemed corrupt. Instead of using the term corruption and ending the conversation and ability of that child being adopted, we need to start the conversation there and find solutions for these children.

Photo Credit:

For more information about MLJ Adoptions’ international adoption programs, please click here.

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.