3 Problems of International Adoption

3 Problems of International AdoptionNo matter what type of adoption you look at, questions abound and definitive answers are hard to come by. Opinions and conflicting opinions, however, are never lacking. Right now, international adoption is at the front and center of adoption conflict. Church and parachurch orphan care and adoption ministries are on the grow, but at the same time, opposition is exploding. Laws surrounding international adoptions continue to get stricter and anti-international adoption advocates are gaining ground.

Last Friday I posted Understanding the Four Types of Adoption. On Facebook, the post was noticed and commented on by Peter Dodds, a guy who was adopted and now advocates against international adoption. He suggested two videos: International Adoption: In Whose Best Interests? and International Adoption Problems (excuse the music on the videos). It’s not the first time I’ve heard of dissent to international adoption. Not too long ago I read an article titled Hannah Williams: The Tragic Death of an Ethiopian Adoptee and The Child Catchers is on my to-read list. I think it’s important to consider both sides of the argument, so I’m going to do a series on the “Problems, Perspectives, and Politics” of international adoption.

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt… –Colossians 4:6a

I have no idea who will see these posts. The argument about international adoption can be an emotionally charged discussion, and it’s easy to step on toes. I’m going to do my best to take a look at the topic with Colossians 4:6 in mind, so tighten your seatbelts and lets go!

1. International Adoption Overlooks Most Orphans

Even the strongest supporters of international adoption admit that the movement of adoptees across international borders represents only a tiny fraction of the abused, neglected, and abandoned children in those countries. —International Adoption Problems, minute 2:30

This is absolutely true. Less than 1% of orphans will ever become available for international adoption. While it is true that many of the remaining 99% might be single orphans living with a remaining parent or double orphans living with relatives (read Who Are Orphans?), it’s obvious that international adoption is not going to provide relief for the majority of orphans around the world.

2. Adoption Isn’t the Best Solution

Poverty is no reason to take children away. Poverty is not a disease and international adoptions are not a solution. —In Whose Best Interests?, minute 2:51

The solution is already in place. It is organizations who provide resources to communities so that they can care for their own children.International Adoption Problems, minute 2:52

Keeping children together with their biological family when it is safe to do so is almost always in a child’s best interests. The second best option is for the child to stay with extended family members, and the third best is for the child to be adopted or permanently “fostered” by a family within their own culture. Keeping kids with their biological families is prevention orphan care. Many wonderful sponsorship programs exist to support this goal.

3. Wrong Emphasis

…the emphasis has changed from the desire to provide a needy child with a home, to that of providing a needy parent with a child. —In Whose Best Interests?, minute 0:54

I don’t necessarily think this is true all or even most of the time. However, in the instances when it is true, it’s absolutely true that adopters need to carefully evaluate their course of action. On the flip side, the matching of two needy groups for the betterment of both sides is a win-win situation. The trick is watch for warning signs that might mean international adoption is not best for a child.

Did you know about the conflict surrounding international adoption before reading this post? What do you think of the problems addressed here? Do you agree or disagree with my take on them? Can you add anything to the discussion?

Stay tuned for more posts on the International Adoption debate. If you have any questions you’d like me to try to answer, leave a comment!

International Adoption Series:
3 Positives of International Adoption

Leave a comment


  1. Thanks for sharing. There are so many facets to life. Being well informed is critical to the decision making process. Doctors, lawyers, detectives, and engineers follow a tedious process of discovery before drawing conclusions and deciding on a course of action. Whereas, many individuals don’t. Library shelves and the internet are filled with information on every topic, but people who don’t read have no advantage over those who can’t.

  2. I’ve been looking through old posts on your blog and came across this one. It definitely is an intricate issue…I would definitely say if you feel led to adopt internationally, pray hard that God would lead you to the right child. One for whom being adopted into another country is the only option.

    Also, you mentioned Hana Williams in the post. I have met her adopted mother. (She used to help at the sign language class we went too). So glad she can no longer abuse those children!
    Emmanuel and his foster (now adoptive!) family goes to our church. I think he’s doing a lot better.


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