General Secretariat

Protecting Children and Uniting Families Across Borders for 93 years

Documentation and Training

Editorials of IRC Monthly Reviews

N°210-March 2017: Responding to inherent risks linked to 'expatriate adoptions'
Our globalised world has increasingly facilitated transnational mobility and free movement of workers. Such work expatriations can create opportunities and challenges related to adoption issues. The ISS/IRC does not question the validity of every 'expatriate adoption', yet invites all actors to prevent and address the inherent risks linked to such adoptions when they arise.

N°209-February 2017: Superstar adoptions: Truly super?
Further to current issues being raised by the adoption of children by superstars, ISS wishes to recall the basic ethical and international standards which should safeguard the rights of the adopted child. ISS would like to ensure that all adoptions are "super" for the child. Superstars are in a unique position to reflect (or not) ethical practices, leading by example.

N°208-January 2017:Specialised and supported professionals for the year 2017 to thrive in children's rights
A country may have an 'ideal' legal framework available for children in need of protection but if, at the same time, the professionals responsible for putting this into effect are not qualified and supported in carrying out their functions, it will remain unworkable.

N°207-December 2016: From austerity to prosperity for children – budgeting for 2017?
Questions concerning State spending have always involved a fine and sometimes divisive balance of competing interests, especially with widespread austerity measures in place. How can we ensure prosperity in the field of alternative care and adoption through effective budgetary planning?

N°206-October-November 2016: Available 2015 statistics: A new perspective on the numbers...
Whilst the 2015 intercountry adoption numbers continue to reflect the trend initiated in 2005, a series of recent research contributes to offering a new perspective on these data and on those relating to alternative care.

N°205-September 2016: Prejudices and cultural discrimination in adoption: Are they adequately addressed and talked about?
Whilst cultural prejudices and discrimination in adoption remain sensitive, complex and taboo aspects of the process, what is their impact on adoptees, biological and adoptive families, as well as other actors involved?

N°204-August 2016: Double principle of subsidiarity: Keeping the child's individual needs at the centre of decisions
The implementation of international standards of children's rights in adoption has always been a delicate balance of competing interests – the principle of double subsidiarity is no exception.

N°203-July 2016: Long-term considerations: A crucial decision element, yet habitually forgotten
When determining the best interests of the child, long-term considerations – as essential foundations providing perspective, sustainability and an identity beyond childhood – are too often ignored.

N°202-May-June 2016: The thousand and one facets of communication as keys to unlock the mysteries of adoption and its unspoken aspects?
When communication, in its most varied manifestations, is used for the benefit of adoption issues, a multitude of paths open up expressing the deeper meaning of adoption beyond words and numbers, and help to make the unspoken evident, as this can be a source of much suffering.

N°201-April 2016: Receiving countries: A new look at priorities regarding child protection and adoption?
It has become a recurrent scenario over recent years for receiving countries to see a drastic decline in intercountry adoptions, all too often this is perceived as inevitable but could it perhaps be seen as an opportunity for these countries to review their priorities?

N°200-March 2016: Adoption and illegal practices: A sign of hope in the face of these tragic situations?
Since its creation, the ISS/IRC, together with other actors, has fought illegal practices carried out in the context of adoption, through the implementation of an adequate international legal framework and the development of training and information tools aimed at preventing these practices and at remedying what may be irreparable.

N°199-February 2016: Accredited adoption bodies and current challenges: Two-way ethics?
The 2015 Special Commission on the operation of the HC-1993 confirmed it: given the changing landscape of intercountry adoption (ICA), accredited adoption bodies (AABs) face important difficulties in many Contracting States, often linked to their funding sources, and which jeopardise their survival and their activities in accordance with international standards.

N°198-January 2016: 2016 new year resolutions: Time for change?
2015 concluded on a note of hope – hope for greater respect for our planet, hope for a more united world through the adoption of the SDGs, hope for a better protection of children in a vulnerable situation, including children without family care. 2016 has now begun, and with it, time has come for the realisation of these aims.

N°197-December 2015: 'Recipe' for a truly festive season for children and their families
As we started the year focusing on the year of the family, this issue of the Monthly Review likewise concludes with the same theme, concentrating on better investment to prevent unnecessary separation.

N°196-November 2015: The 1996 Hague Convention: A unique role in the cross-border protection of children?
An international conference co-organised by ISS (see box below) was an opportunity to observe the added value of the HC-1996 'as a unique instrument comprehensively regulating the rules of private international law and co-operation mechanisms on child protection in order to ensure the primary nature of the best interests of the child'1. Yet, the low levels of ratification/accession to this Convention and the difficulties linked to its implementation still raise a considerable number of challenges.

N°195-October 2015: The fuss about numbers, goals and indicators...
This Editorial highlights the importance and challenges of having accurate data about children deprived of their family or at risk of so being, ideally included in the global discussions about SDG indicators.

N°194-September 2015: Open adoption: Several speeds, several measures
The Fourth Special Commission on the Practical Operation of the HC-1993 (SC) was an opportunity to launch a debate on open adoption, and to reflect the very diverse developments and positions in this field, from one country to another and from one continent to another.

N°193-JulyAugust 2015: The first encounter of the adoptive family and the probationary period of life together: Are there any remaining gaps in these crucial stages?
As one of the key moments in the development of the adoptive family, the ISS/IRC has decided to dedicate a special issue to the first encounter and the probationary period of life together of the child and his prospective adoptive adoptive parents, having observed that regulations as well as practices vary considerably from one country to another, and sometimes reflect some gaps.

N°192-June 2015: Special Commission on the operation of the HC-1993: An assessment tool with multiple facets
The fourth Special Commission on the operation of the HC-1993 (hereinafter, the 'Commission') took place from 8 to 12 June 2015 – a unique opportunity for all receiving countries and countries of origin, whether current or prospective Parties to the Convention, and some well-known observers, to meet and debate on some – sometimes sensitive – issues relating to intercountry adoption, provided that the tongues loosened themselves...

N°191-May 2015: The preparation of prospective adoptive parents: Is it attuned to the development of intercountry adoption?
The increasingly longer waiting periods, the specific needs of adoptable children, the strengthened requirements of countries of origin, new technologies... these are the current issues of intercountry adoption, which all prospective adopters must be adequately prepared for, if this is not yet the case...

N° 190-April 2015: Practical defies of remembering that the child is an individual
Each child's individual rights are often forgotten despite universal "recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family (including the child) [being] the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world' (Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

N° 189-February-March 2015: The Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children celebrate their fifth birthday

This double edition is a brief progress report on the situation of children in need of alternative care or at risk so being, five years after the Guidelines' acceptance at the United Nations' General Assembly.

N° 188-January 2015: 2014: More projects, fewer subsidies...

For this first editorial of the year, we offer the usual brief look back at the activities carried out by the ISS General Secretariat and the prospects that lie ahead for the coming year.

N°187-November Decembre 2014:The concept of 'family': The challenge of protecting children in and out of families

In the context of the 20th Anniversary of the International Year of the Family, ISS suggests reflecting on the family concept, its definition and meaning, and to address the complexities linked to this process through a series of articles on this issue. Undoubtedly, children's rights must be protected irrespective of the child's family situation and irrespective of the definition of 'family / families' that is adopted.

N°186-October 2014: 2013 statistics: Limited changes

Like every year, the ISS/IRC has gathered the intercountry adoption statistics from the main countries of origin and receiving countries, and offers an analysis of the trends and their implications.

N°185-September 2014: The importance of sharing good practices and tools amongst alternative care professionals

In this Monthly Review, the ISS wishes to promote and support the exchange of good practices and tools amongst professionals, in particular through the dissemination of reports, research and handbooks, which have been published in recent months.

N°184-August 2014: The impact of the observation of the young child on his care

Through this special Monthly Review, the ISS intends to promote resorting to the observation of the young child, which places the latter and his needs at the heart of any process aimed at his protection. An overview of various experiences is offered, highlighting the cultural and ethical implications of this increasingly widespread practice

N°183-July 2014: Religion and protection measures: More tolerance, less dogmatism

This Monthly Review dedicates its content to the various ways, in which religions - for good or for ill - influence the concept of child protection, and in particular adoption.

N°182-June 2014: Adopting an older child: Are parents sufficiently capable and skilled? (Second part)

As a follow-up to the previous Monthly Review, which addressed the child's perspective and his specific needs, let us now focus on the parents' perspective, and assess the support that receiving countries and professionals can provide them with.

N°181-May 2014: The adoption of older children: A project that measures up to the children's needs? (First part)

Whilst the number of older children intended to be adopted internationally increases, what about the abilities of adoption actors to undertake these specific projects? The ISS/IRC, which had already initiated this task in 20081, invites you to address, at first, the perspective of the child, and subsequently that of the parents (a second part will be published in our next Editorial).

N°180-MarchApril 2014: Biological fathers, adoptive fathers: Greater visibility than in the past?

Whether one focuses on biological fathers or on adoptive fathers, the attention that is granted to each of them throughout the adoption process and beyond still poses a challenge. Indeed, for many years, all the attention focused on the construction of the adoptive family, thereby only leaving little space - if any at all - to the child's past. Whilst some time was necessary to develop an interest in the biological mothers' experience, the fate of the fathers has required even more time.

N° 179-February 2014: In the words of adoptees

On the occasion of the publication of the Charter of adoptees1 in France, the ISS/IRC has chosen to give voice to the adopted; a voice that is becoming increasingly stronger, more frequently sought and hopefully, more listened to.

N° 178-January 2014: A year 2013 full of projects

In this first Editorial of the year, we offer our usual brief flashback on the activities undertaken by the ISS General Secretariat and on what is expected in this new year that is starting.

N° 177-NovDec 2013: 1993-2013: Twenty years of the Hague Convention

Adopted 20 years ago, the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption has experienced a true success in terms of ratifications, but its effective implementation still raises issues. Here, a brief overview on the occasion of its anniversary.

N° 176-October 2013: 2012 statistics: The economic crisis, a visible factor in the decline and a challenge for children's rights

As it does every year, the ISS/IRC has compiled the statistics from the top leading receiving countries and countries of origin in matters of intercountry adoption and provides an analysis of the resulting trends and their potential new factors and implications.

N° 175-September 2013: The medical assessment of prospective adoptive parents: How far should it go in the child's best interests?

The prospectice adoptive parents' health is a key element when assessing their ability to adopt. Even though the undertaking of quality evaluations is relevant to the child's well-being, the issue of respect for the applicants' privacy may be raised in some circumstances.

N° 174-JulAug 2013: The international resort to surrogacy:

The resort to surrogate mothers at international level has experienced rapid growth, beyond any regulations, and already affects thousands of children, mothers and parents each year. Today, it has become urgent for the international community to address this issue.

N° 173-June 2013: Adoption: new technologies ... and new challenges for all

In a worldwide context in which new technologies have become part of our daily personal and professional life, this month's Editorial reflects on how these have affected adoption.

N° 172-May 2013: The child's waiting for a family: Between hope and reality

Let us pursue our reflection on the waiting period by focusing on the child. Many factors must be considered when supporting him during this period, in which ambivalent feelings, the deep hope of being cared for by loving parents whilst also fearing what is unknown get mixed up.

N° 171-April 2013: The waiting: A recurrent issue in adoption, which is keen on solutions

As a major challenge in adoption, the ISS/IRC addresses the recurrent issue of the waiting period. Even though the latter is, in many respects, a synonym of frustration, doubts, disappointments, it also represents an opportunity for progression towards this important project, which is the building of a family.

N° 170-March 2013: Child-headed families - A form of alternative care among others?

The phenomenon of child-headed families - mainly present in Sub-Saharan Africa - raises the issue of the role of such an option within the continuum of alternative care measures - the sign of a recognised social fact but of concern in several regards.

N° 2013.2: Moving Forward - Implementing children's rights in the framework of alternative care

Black letter laws and international standards are the first step towards better protections for children; yet, unless they are effectively applied, they remain legal prose with no practical value.

N° 2013.1: Are the best interests of the child always best?

This Monthly Review covers multiple articles that show, to some degree, how the best interest principle can be misunderstood and misconstrued, resulting in grave consequences for the children in question.

N° 2012.11-12: The ISS/IRC in 2012: Achievements and the challenges ahead

The ISS/IRC would like to end the year with an assessment of all the activities and projects carried out successfully in 2012 and to present its future plans for the protection of children deprived of their family.

N° 2012.10: 2011 statistics: The decline continues

As it does every year, the ISS/IRC has compiled the statistics from the 12 leading receiving countries in matters of intercountry adoption and provides an analysis of the resulting trends.

N° 2012.9: At the crossroads of abandonment and international surrogacy - Protecting children's rights at their origins

This Monthly Review briefly addresses - at first glance - two very different topics: baby boxes and international surrogacy. Yet, both in one way or another touch upon the rights of the child to know his origins, sometimes at the expense of those biologically connected to them.

N° 2012.7-8: A step forward is needed for child protection in Greece

Despite the fact that the economic crisis in Greece has been very present in the media for many months now, very little is said, and known, about the current situation of the child protection system in the country.

N° 2012.6: In Africa, the word ‘adoption' does not exist

The African conference held in Addis Ababa on 29-30 May on Intercountry Adoption: Alternatives and Controversies brought together hundreds of participants concerned by this issue from across the continent.

N° 2012.5: ‘Baby boxes': A controversial means of abandonment

In June 2011, following a recommendation from the Committee on the Rights of the Child against the use of baby boxes1, the debate on this means of abandonment has been revived, prompting the ISS/IRC to reflect on this sensitive issue.

N° 2012.4 : Haiti, two years on: A time of waiting

Two years after the earthquake, the issue of whether to resume intercountry adoptions with Haiti is insistently being raised, but for the ISS, it remains too early.

N° 2012.2-3: Views on the adoption of children with so-called ‘special needs'

Dr Chicoine, Prfessor of Paediatrics at Montreal's CHU Sainte-Justine (Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre), and J Lemieux, a Quebec Social Worker, who have been supporting and caring for adoptive families for over 20 years, share their views on the complex issue of the adoption of children with so-called ‘special needs'.

N° 2012.1: New challenges in the search for origins...

As a recurrent issue in adoption, and one that is continually changing in accordance with modern developments, the search for origins must today face new challenges, which the ISS/IRC is reflecting on, in particular, the growing role of social networks in this process.

N° 2011.12: Practical and ethical issues in relation to the prospective adoptive parents' (multiple) visits to the child's country of origin

An increasing number of countries of origin and receiving countries agree on the importance of prospective adoptive parents coming to the child's country of origin. The debate focuses today more on the requirements linked to these visits, and their impact on the child and the parents.

N° 2011.10-11: Foster care: From the omission or non-existence of a measure to its idealisation

The numerous deinstitutionalisation movements worldwide have propelled foster care to the front row. As a reaction to this controversial phenomenon, the ISS/IRC has decided to dedicate a special issue to this form of child care.

N° 2011.9: What is the outlook for intercountry adoption?

In this review examines ISS/IRC explores the evolution of intercountry adoption, as well as the 2010 statistics and its project supporting children with disabilities.

N° 2011.8: When the paths of mediation and adoption meet...

Intrinsic to some traditional cultures, or a true emerging professional field, family mediation opens its doors to adoptive families. As evidenced in this editorial, it offers them many advantages.

N° 2011.7: On the role of diplomatic missions

As essential actors in the intercountry adoption procedure, the embassies of receiving countries take on various technical tasks, whilst playing a nonetheless important political role, which is however not always easy to reconcile with the demands of their different counterparts.

N° 2011.6: Fraud with respect to civil status: a reality in intercountry adoption

On the occasion of the publication by the ISS/IRC of a guide on the risks relating to intercountry adoption developed for professionals and prospective adopters, the ISS/IRC wishes to address the tricky issue of fraudulent civil certificates, which are sometimes issued with a view to intercountry adoption.

N° 2011.5: A call to readers

In order to consolidate and develop its activities, the ISS/IRC launches, for the first time, a call to the readers of its Monthly Review.

N° 2011.3-4: Africa and intercountry adoption from an African point of view

In the light of the receiving countries' increasing interest in Africa, countries of origin from this region are facing the need for legislative reforms aimed at tackling the risks related to illegal activities.

N° 2011.2:Adoption and discrimination: Can applicants express all their wishes?

The issue of discrimination in adoption matters has been the subject of a significant judgment issued by the Italian High Court: the decision recalls that the matching is not on the basis of the selection of a child by the adoption applicants.



N° 2011.1: Intercountry adoption in 2010: a contrasted picture

At the beginning of this year, the ISS/IRC both enthusiastically and critically looks at the world of intercountry adoption in 2010 as well as how it has contributed to change.

N° 2010.11-12: Exploring adoption as a suitable option for children with disabilities


This new series aims to tackle the multifaceted issues that must be addressed when considering adoption as a permanent family option for children with disabilities in need of care.

N° 2010.10: Figuring out the child's future when s/he is sold for adoption

This editorial examines the complicated issue of determining the child's future placement when an independent body finds that s/he has been bought by his/her adoptive parents, who on the one hand can offer a stable and loving family but on the other hand have committed a crime against the child.

N° 2010.9: Mothers of origin, those forgotten by intercountry adoption

This bulletin offers mothers of origin a special position, by highlighting their difficult experiences and opening up ways of thinking ahead by providing them high quality support.

N° 2010.8: Emergency situations and adoption: when will things get back to normal?

At the moment of publishing their study on adoptions in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, the ISS/IRC devotes this special edition to the question of adoption in the context of crises.

N° 2010.6-7: 3rd Special Commission: progress in the midst of missed opportunities

The Hague Conference on Private International Law hosted the 3rd Special Commission last June resulting in clear advances, yet much work remains for subsequent Commission meetings.

N° 2010.5: June 2010: valuable opportunity to share experiences from the ground up

The 3rd Special Commission to be hosted next month by the Hague Conference on Private International Law provides a unique forum to share information on the implementation of THC-93 and make recommendations to ensure a better respect of the Convention's requirements.

N° 2010.4: Bringing moratoriums in line with international standards

Given the frequency of moratoriums in intercountry adoption procedures, and irrespective of the context of why and how one is instigated, international law demands that certain minimum standards are evoked to ensure the best protection of children in their application.

N° 2010.3: A multidisciplinary team: in theory at least, but what does it mean in practice?

There are numerous administrative and legal texts that foresee the obligation to convene a multidisciplinary team when it is time to take decisions about adoption. Such texts are helpful on the condition that safeguards are integrated for their effective implementation.

N° 2010.2: 2009: quicker, faster, further, stronger!

It is our February editorial (instead of January) that looks back on 2009 to present our activities and recall the events that shaped intercountry adoption last year given that current realities have somewhat disrupted our habits.

N° 2010.1: Earthquake in Haiti: Adoption is not a priority

The response to dozens of adoption dossiers that were in the process of being finalised before the earthquake must be differentiated based on how advanced the procedure is. In every case at the moment, the finalisation of adoption is not a priority.

N° 2009.11-12: In 20 years, the Convention on the Rights of the Child has achieved a lot for children, even if numerous challenges remain

The Convention has made it possible to blaze indispensable trails for the protection of children, particularly those deprived of family. It is now a matter of reinforcing and implementing them better.

N° 2009.10: State ordered separation: terminating parental authority in whose interests?

When States terminate parental authority, there are a number of competing interests at stake, some of which are not easily reconcilable and can be of particular importance in the adoption process.

N° 2009.9 : "The adopted child is a child like any other, with his peculiarities": a basic principle which sometimes has difficulty being applied

The specificities of adopted children are still too often the source of unsuitable patterns of behaviour at all levels of society. More awareness raising is still necessary.

N° 2009.8 : The harsh reality of numbers

The statistics of the major receiving countries confirm once more the drop in the number of inter-country adoptions throughout the world. If the major countries of origin continue to be more or less the same, their evolution is notably different. The magnitude of demand in receiving countries still remains a huge unknown.

N° 2009.7: How to strike a balance between the right to respect the private and family life and the protection of the child's interest in adoption?

The adoptee's rights and those of his biological parents on the one hand, as well as those of his adoptive parents on the other can sometimes lead to conflict. It then becomes a matter of seeking solutions that respect the needs and rights of all concerned parties with those of the child as a priority.

N° 2009.6: Celebrity adoptions: for better or for worse?

With the growing number of celebrities adopting children, it is more than reasonable to ask whether the wealth, fame and publicity attached to such actions is helpful or harmful.

N° 2009.5: The last stretch for the adoption of the draft UN guidelines: an ongoing need for the involvement of civil society

The draft UN guidelines for the appropriate use and conditions of alternative care for children faces a dilemma: advance forward without necessarily achieving a general consensus or, on the contrary, prioritising the latter at the risk of further postponing the adoption of the text.

N° 2009.3-4: What scope should be granted to the principle of subsidiarity?

The principle of subsidiarity, fundamental to adoption mainly conceived and understood as an obligation of countries of origin raises complex issues as intercountry adoption develops.

N° 2009.2: Towards an evolution of the position of the child's family and culture of origin in intercountry adoption?

Recent legislative and practical developments have shown that a more important position is now granted to the family and culture of origin of the child. Are we witnessing a new perspective of intercountry adoption - one that is closer to its intercultural dimension?

N° 2009.1: 2008: a typical year for inter-country adoption?

By taking a look at the events that shaped the world of adoption in the course of last year, it is striking to notice how much 2008 mixed important items of progress and, at the same time, developed ominous initiatives. The following is a brief overview in the form of a balance sheet.

N° 2008.11-12: Is immediate de-institutionalization always in the best interest of the child?

No doubt de-institutionalization is one of the main challenges in the field of child protection today. This editorial canvasses Brazil's process of de-institutionalization based on the Masters Thesis* by Roberta Salle Levy which amongst others shows that de-institutionalization is not always optimal especially where alternatives are inadequate

N° 2008.10: Exposing myths about the number of adoptable children and the need for more precision when defining who is adoptable

Sorting through the myriad of definitions being used and misused to identify the number of adoptable children can be an onerous task and requires clarification for better policy making

N° 2008.9: Parental leave for adoption: one aspect of support for adoptive families often left in the dark

The systems of parental leave for adoption vary considerably from one State to another. Irrespective of how essential they may be in questions of support for adoptive families, they do not always adequately respond to the needs of adopted children and their parents.

N° 2008.7-8: Diversification of countries of origin and an increase in the age of adopted children against a background of inter-country adoption that continues to be tense


The fall in inter-country adoptions, which is common throughout the world, reflects amongst other things, an improvement in the provision of domestic care for children in the countries of origin.  Faced with this situation, the receiving countries are looking for new countries to adopt in, particularly in Africa.

N° 2008.6: On the shared responsibility of receiving States and States of origin in the setting of intercountry adoption costs

Although the issue of intercountry adoption costs remains a difficult topic to address, the sharing of responsibility between States of origin and receiving States remains inadequate in this field. However, better cooperation among States should lead to greater transparency.

N° 2008.5: Implications of the increase in the number of intercountry adoptions from a region and growing awareness of the needs: The example of Africa

Africa has rapidly become a major region of origin for intercountry adoptions and recent events have drawn the attention of authorities to the implications of such processes.

N° 2008.4: The 1993 Hague Convention and the United States of America

This month, the ISS/IRC wishes to address the benefits and the challenges flowing from the entry into force of the Hague Convention in the USA, and its potential implications for the domestic and global situation of intercountry adoption.

N° 2008.3: Interesting initiatives to channel the flow of adoption requests and to reduce the pressure on countries of origin

Since 2004, the Netherlands have developed a practice, in which the waiting period for prospective adoptive parents is arranged at the beginning of the procedure for obtaining an authorisation to adopt a first child. The compulsory preparation of prospective adoptive parents constitutes another way to channel the flow of adoption requests.

N° 2008.2: Adoption and homosexuality: Observations and considerations

Following the recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, which declared the refusal to grant a certificate of eligibility, based – even partially – on the applicant’s sexual orientation to be discriminatory, this editorial reviews the very thorny issue of adoption by homosexuals.

N° 2008.1: 2007: A brief balance for a great year

At the beginning of this new year, the ISS/IRC team wishes to present the various activities, which have marked this exceptionally rich year. Given that most of the readers of the Monthly Review do not have access to the Centre annual report, the latter believes it useful to go back over these projects in order to provide you with a more comprehensive picture of its services

N° 2007.11-12: Humanitarian action and intercountry adoption: A sulfurous mixture of kinds

Recent events between France and Chad have highlighted the risks that a blind desire ‘to save children’ may lead to. They also question the image, which the West may have of countries in the South. In addition, they illustrate a worrying confusion between humanitarian action and intercountry adoption.

N° 2007.10: Internet-based listings: An ethical and effective measure for children awaiting adoption?

Often faced with questions relating to the mechanisms available to States to fight against the violation of children’s rights through internet-based listing systems for children awaiting adoption, the ISS/IRC hereby wishes to address, question and raise the conditions under which this practice could be used to respond adequately and carefully to the needs of children

N° 2007.9: What if, despite all efforts, the adoption does not succeed?

A major fear, if not the greatest, of all those affected by an adoption and those involved in the process is that the adoption fails to create an attachment and that, despite the efforts provided by all, an assessment of the child’s situation may conclude that his separation from the adoptive family is in his best interests. How could these situations be prevented and responded to?

N° 2007.8: What questions arise from the implementation of a new Central Authority?

In the framework of its activities, the ISS/IRC is often confronted with questions from professionals responsible for setting up a new Central Authority following the ratification of the 1993 Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption (HC-1993). This editorial seeks to shed some light on the difficulties and the questions, which may be faced by an administration in the implementation stage of the Convention.

N° 2007.6-7: The adequate selection of prospective adoptive parents: A guarantee for ethical and successful adoptions

Whilst in receiving countries, there is great concern about information relating to the health, psychological state of the child and his/her possible background, the same occurs in countries of origin in relation to the criteria of evaluation of prospective adoptive parents.

N° 2007.5: Unaccompanied minors are also children without parental care

As part of a joint UNICEF-ISS project, the Monthly Review will include a series of articles on the protection of the best interests and the rights of unaccompanied children.

N° 2007.4: Intercountry adoption may only find its balance if countries of origin and receiving countries take the necessary steps

Although countries of origin increasingly take more steps to protect themselves against the pressure from receiving countries, which "lack children", the latter must now find the means of better managing the flow of their prospective adoptive parents.

N° 2007.3: Intercountry adoptions: an ever tenser situation

Initial statistics for the year 2006 reflect a tendency towards a decrease in the number of intercountry adoptions. This slowdown, however, raises a number of questions, in relation both, to its possible causes and to its possible long–term consequences.

N° 2007.2: From respite care abroad... to adoption?

Another facet of adoption on holiday presented in the previous editorial, which is becoming quite common, concerns groups of children from economically disadvantaged and/or disaster-struck countries being hosted temporarily by families in industrialised countries, not infrequently leading to the host family applying to adopt the child in question.

N° 2007.1: Adoption ‘on holiday’

Stays abroad are often at the root of adoption procedures, which soon become particularly complex, since they fall outside any legal framework. Emotions often obscure the legal principles yet designed to protect children. The following is an overview of adoption on holiday…

N° 2006.11.12: The biased picture of intercountry adoption in the media

In order to better disseminate the ethical principles, which govern intercountry adoption and, thus, to rectify the biased news coverage of adoption in general, and even more so when celebrities are adopting, it would be useful for adoption professionals to appear more in the media.

N° 2006.10: Cooperation and intercountry adoption in perspective

Developments in intercountry adoption and its implementation in countries of origin may sometimes share similarities with development programmes, thus creating a new dynamic whilst also raising important issues. Although conventional texts highlight the need for genuine cooperation among countries, the meaning and the scope of the latter still remain to be defined in a context which experiences constant change.

N° 2006.9: Conference of Brasilia, 9-11 August 2006

A decisive step towards the adoption of the United Nations Guidelines for the Protection and Alternative Care of Children without Parental Care. As a priority, the Draft Guidelines aim at preserving the family structure and, where this is not possible, at offering an appropriate form of alternative care to every child. It is now a matter of mobilising all the States, so that a larger international debate may take place as a result of this conference. Without strong political support, this text may never come into being…

N° 2006.7-8: What are the alternatives to full adoption?

If full adoption continues to be the most widely followed approach when it comes to placing a child in a new family on a permanent basis, one wonders if this choice is always the one that best safeguards the rights of the various persons involved, and particularly those of the biological parents.  Through the few examples presented below, we have intended to open a debate on the place of full adoption in the future.

N°2006.6: Adoption by nationals residing abroad: a mind-boggler for private international law

When people living outside their country of origin adopt a child from this same country, national regulations are frequently inconsistent with those at the international level. Although responses may vary according to the situation, the best interests of the child, here too, should be the primary consideration.

N°2006.5: Post-adoption (III/2): The search for origins. Second part: practical questions

Having presented the different points of view on the right to know one’s origins, IRC addresses, in this last editorial on post-adoption, some practical aspects of the implementation of the search for origins.

Nº 2006.4: Post-Adoption (III/1): The search for origins. First part: Theoretical issues

The question of the existence of a right to know one's origins under domestic legislation and international laws.

Nº 2006.3: Post-Adoption (II): Follow-up reports required by countries of origin

The need for a balance between protecting the needs of the child and those of the adoptive family and answering the legitimate requirements of countries of origin.

N° 2006.2: Post-Adoption: The usefulness of professional support for the adoptee and his adoptive family

At the start of a series of three editorials devoted to the post-adoption period, the IRC presents the issue of professional support during the first moments of the adoptee’s life together with his new family.  

N° 2006.1: «Simple adoption» versus «full adoption»: A national choice with international repercussions

The distinction between simple and full adoption is characterised by a lack of coherence in its defining criteria as well as when it comes to the implementation of the conditions of conversion of adoptions under the national law of the receiving country.  

N°2005.11-12: Is intercountry adoption linked with trafficking for exploitation?

In this editorial we analyse the fact that while some children are certainly “trafficked for the purpose of adoption”, there is no evidence, as far as we know, that children have been “trafficked through adoption for subsequent exploitation.”

N°2005.8-9: The «paradox of time» in the adoption process

How shall one strike the balance between the need to take time to identify the best permanent solution for the child and the need for him not to stay too long in the uncertainty of a provisional solution? Central issues of consideration include the period of time which the parents have to give their consent, or where consent is not possible, the period in which the Authorities must search for the family of orgin; as well as the lapse of time linked to the principle of subsidiarity of inter-country adoption. Finally, we analyse the consequences of these issues for the child and the importance of searching for a reasonable time balance, which ensures that the right of every individual is guaranteed and that the professionalism of the procedure is secured.

N°2005.7: Permanency planning for children in temporary care

Which permanent life plan to choose for which child? What fundamental principles have to be taken into account in elaborating a permanent life plan? What are the elements to be considered for the professional process of elaborating a permanent life plan?

N°2005.6: In the spirit of article 29 of THC-1993, any contact between prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) and the child’s parents or carer, should be prohibited until the matching decision

One of the main objectives of article 29 is to guarantee the free consent of the biological parents. Another objective is to oblige PAPs to respect THC-1993 adoption system, first allowing their eligibility and suitability to be assessed and secondly, by processing through the Central and competent Authorities of receiving countries and countries of origin, and preferably through an adoption accredited body.

N°2005.5: Non relative inter-country adoption: Does The Hague Convention 1993 make it obligatory to co-operate with every receiving State or body that so requests?

In the context of a cooperation based on the best interest of the child, The Hague Convention 1993 invites States of origin to collaborate with the number and type of partners in receiving States that best fit the needs of their children. The reasons for such collaboration and the point of view of the Permanent Office of the Hague Conference are detailed in this editorial.

N°2005.4: In children’s best interests, what is the maximum age difference to adopt?

A large number of legislation in countries of origin and receiving countries impose a minimum age to adopt and a minimum age difference between the adopter and the adoptee. They are, however, much less numerous to fix a maximum age or a maximum age difference. It is true that some legislative flexibility may correspond to the best interests of certain children. But one of the current problems is that of older and older prospective adoptive parents wishing to adopt very young children. Therefore, some serious thinking about the legislation on this theme should be considered. Certification by law of a maximum age difference could, thus, be considered useful. The age aspect must however figure in the overall package of elements to be taken into consideration when assessing, case by case, the suitability of prospective adoptive parents to adopt a certain category of children and within that category, of a particular child, depending upon his/her specific needs.

N° 2005.3: The principle of subsidiarity and the extended family as caregivers

This type of care, the most usual in many countries, comes within a more global system of measures regulated by International law. The latter gives priority to maintaining the child deprived of his/her parents within his/her family of origin, before envisaging alternative and permanent family care solutions. In cases where it is impossible to maintain the child within his/her family of origin, an adoption project can be envisaged. However, in application of the fundamental principle of subsidiarity, domestic adoption should have priority to inter-country adoption. In the case of temporary solutions (foster care, residential care), the placement has to be periodically reviewed and be accompanied by a permanency planning project. However, what happens when members of the extended family, living abroad, wish to adopt the child? How can the priority given to the family of origin be harmonised with the principle of subsidiarity? Which elements must be taken into consideration in the search for the solution that most correctly responds to the best interest of the child?

N° 2005.2: One child is equal to another: The principle of non- discrimination applied to adoption

As demonstrated by the example of adoption, the principle of non-discrimination in child protection cannot be applied without previous evaluation. It has to be adapted to each context. Depending on the cases, it requires either to identify differences of treatments which cannot be justified under the best interest of the child or, on the contrary, to take specific measures aimed at compensating inequalities. Only this differentiated approach ensures that one child is equal to another in practice.

2005 N° 1: For an adequate protection of children separated from their family during national disasters

Principles for the protection of child victims of natural disasters are put forward, ranging from the emergency phase up until long-term solutions.

N° 72 – 73: Improving Protection for Children without Parental Care: A Call for International

Standards Millions of children around the world live in formal or informal foster care, in institutions, or are otherwise separated from their parents; many more are at risk of separation, due to the impact of HIV on their families, armed conflict, natural disasters, disability and poverty.  While the Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises the child's right to be cared for by his or her parents, and sets out States Parties' obligations to provide suitable alternative care when a child cannot be cared for within his or her family environment, current international instruments offer only partial and limited guidance on steps to prevent separation and to ensure adequate care.  During the 37th session, held on September-October 2004, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, in recognition of this gap, passed a decision recommending to the UN Commission on Human Rights the drafting of UN Guidelines for the protection and alternative care of children without parental care.

N° 71: The Mediation of the Adoption Accredited Bodies (AAB) of the Receiving States: a guarantee for inter-country adoption but on what conditions?

The mediation of the AAB, between countries that are parties or not to the THC-1993, only constitutes an ethical guarantee for inter-country adoption if certain conditions are met, at two levels: at the level of the AAB itself (its characteristics; its supervision, review and support by the receiving States and the States of origin concerned) and in the joint responsibility between the receiving States and the States of origin. Dialogue and international co-operation should, in future, be developed to allow the authorities of the receiving States and the States of origin to determine the number and the profile of children of the States of origin in need of adoption, as well as the professional profile and the tasks assigned to the AAB.

N° 70: Inter-country adoption: Benefits of compulsory participation of adoption accredited bodies in the receiving countries under the supervision of the Central Authorities

Making it compulsory for prospective adopters to go through the adoption accredited bodies (AAB) of the receiving countries, allows States to fully meet their international and ethical obligations regarding inter-country adoption. These AAB, approved by the receiving countries and authorised by the country of origin, represent an effective guarantee for the rights of the child by proposing a professional mediation between families, authorities and country. Also they participate in the combat against certain abuses, trafficking and failures that stem from recourse to independent adoptions. In the same way States are responsible for ensuring the support, training and supervision of the AAB, in the framework of a system of control both qualitative and quantitative.

N° 68-69:  From the «International Reference Centre for the Protection of Children in Adoption» to the «International Reference Centre for the Rights of Children deprived of their Family»

Due to the development of our activities and at the same time retaining our specific competence in matters of adoption, the IRC is changing its name, whilst at the same time underlining the fact that our work comes within the framework of a global policy of childprotection. On the one hand this change takes into consideration the primary right of the child to remain in his/her family of origin if this solution is in his/her best interests, as well as benefiting, in other cases, from an ultimate protective measure preferably of the family kind; on the other hand, this increases our concern with the prevention of abandonment and placement, in support for families (immediate and extended) of origin, and in respect of the rights of children placed – temporarily in principle - with foster families and in institutions.

N ° 67:  To promote the adoption of children with special needs

In every country, developing, in transition, or industrialized, the present challenge posed by adoption – both domestic and inter-country - and an important part of its future undoubtedly reside in the search for suitable families for children with special needs, as well as in suitably adapted professional practices. Different situations for children, different adoptive parents and reformed professional practices.

N° 66: Family life, deinstitutionalisation and adoption

The best interests of the child is basically to be raised in a family environment that ensures him/her permanence and individualized attention. One of today’s great challenges for many countries resides in preventing institutionalisation and in the development of an individualized and permanent family plan. Priority has to be given to the reinsertion of children into their family of origin, what does not exclude adoption which MUST have its place in the range of responses offered.

N° 65: In the child’s best interest, which is the supply and which the demand?

How can one switch from the demand of prospective adopters in search of a supply of children “available for adoption”, to the supply of prospective adopters who meet the demand of children in need of adoption?

N° 64: Adoption and politics

Consideration of the politics at stake in the attitude of certain receiving countries, regulations of certain countries of origin and individual decisions taken by political authorities.

Thematic Fact Sheets

Thematic Fact Sheets on Children Deprived of Parental Care

The ISS/IRC proposes a training/information series of fact sheets on the provision of care for children deprived of family or at risk of so being, those in need of adoption or who have already been adopted.

The series is based, amongst others, on the Practical manual: The best interests of the child and adoption – Implementation of international conventions relating to child protection. This manual was produced thanks to an international cooperation project between the Italian Intercountry Adoption Commission and the governments of Albania, Bulgaria, Peru and Bolivia. The Italian Branch of the International Social Service and the ISS/IRC also contributed to its production, as well as various experts: Claudia Cabral, Carmela Cavallo, Anne Marie Crine, Anna Maria Fedele, Yolanda Galli, Helen Humphrey, Helen Jones, Isabelle Lammerant, Anna Maria Libri, Tomás Merín, Alessandra Moro, Silvia Nabinger, Maurizio Orlandi, Chantal Saclier, Anna Sanchez, Maria Scudellari, Francesco Viero and Robert Vitillo. It contains tables and texts previously drafted by Anne Marie Crine, Yolanda Galli, Silvia Nabinger, Chantal Saclier and Robert Vitillo (for the ISS/IRC), Alessandra Moro (for the ULSS16 adoption team – Padova), Helen Humphrey and Helen Jones (for the Department of Health in Great Britain). ISS acknowledges their intellectual property for part of this manual and the fact sheets, and thank them for their kind collaboration.

FIRST PART: THE ELABORATION OF A GLOBAL POLICY FOR THE CHILDREN AND THE FAMILY

01  The general framework

02  Support for families in difficulty as a means of prevention of the child’s separation from the family of origin

03  Permanency planning: The principles to be taken into account 

04  Elaborating a permanency plan: Getting to know the child and his/her family 

05  Elaborating a permanency plan: Getting to know the reality of the child in relation to his/her family of origin 

06  Elaborating a lifelong plan: Preparation of the child 

07  Elaborating a lifelong plan: Family reintegration 

08  Elaborating a lifelong plan: Kinship care 

09  Ensuring care proceedings: The decision to separate a child from his/her family environment 

10  Ensuring care proceedings: The legal process 

11  Termination of parental rights and consequences 

12  Provisional protective measures: The Child's lifebook

13  Provisional protective measures: Institutional placement, a provisional measure except in special cases 

14  Provisional protective measures: The principles to be observed during the institutionalization of a child (1/3) 

15  Provisional protective measures: The principles to be observed during the institutionalization of a child (2/3) 

16  Provisional protective measures: The principles to be observed during the institutionalization of a child (3/3) 

17  Provisional protective measures: Family placement

SECOND PART: THE ADOPTION

18  General principles

19  The adoptability of the child: objectives and responsibilities

20  The determination of the adoptability of the child

21  The adoptability of the child: the report on the child for proceeding with adoption

22  The evaluation of the eligibility and the suitability of prospective adopters

23  The evaluation of the eligibility and the suitability of prospective adopters: the report

24  The evaluation of the candidates: the question of age

25  Matching: conditions and criteria

26  Preparing the child for adoption

27  Preparing the prospective adoptive parents

28  The meeting and the mutual acquaintance

29  "Simple adoption" versus "Full adoption": the effects of adoption

30  The follow-up and post-adoption services

31  The search of origins

THIRD PART: THE INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION

32  The global context of intercountry adoption 

33  The legal and procedural context 

34  Adoption between Hague and non Hague State parties 

35  The principle of subsidiarity 

36  Supranational and regional actors 

37  The primary importance of cooperation between central authorities 

38  Accredited adoption bodies of receiving States - AABs (I): The nature and advantages of their intervention 

39  Accredited adoption bodies of receiving States - AABs (II): Indispensable conditions and supervision of their intervention

40  Domestic accredited bodies in the countries of origin 

41  The intercountry adoptability of the chid and the eligibilty of prospective adoptive parents

42  Matching: The identification of a familiy for the child 

43  The confirmation of matching, the meeting and the probationary period 

44  Preparing the child for his inter-country adoption

45  The preparation of prospective adoptive parents, the assistance in the country of origin and the adoption order 

46  Post-adoption follow-up 

47  The financial aspects

FOURTH PART: THE SPECIFIC CASES OF THE ADOPTION

48  The adoption of children with special needs

49  Relative adoption

50  Kafalah

51  Adoption breakdown

52  Preventing abuse and trafficking

53  Bibliography of the Fact Sheet series