Intercountry Adoption, Countries of Origin, and Biological Families

Riitta Högbacka


This report discusses concerns raised by participants of Thematic Area 2 (Intercountry Adoption, Countries of Origin, and Biological Families) of the International Forum on Intercountry Adoption and Global Surrogacy held in August 2014. As first parents of internationally adopted children are mostly absent from research and adoption practices alike, the goal of this Thematic Area was to suggest ways in which their perspectives could better be taken into account in the recommendations of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption.

The report gives a short outline of what is known about first parents and then proceeds to take up problematic issues raised in the sessions. Participants drew attention to the marginalization of first parents in the implementation of the Convention. Although a child’s care in the family of origin or other suitable care in the country of origin is emphasized by the subsidiarity principle, no common guidelines exist as to what measures should be taken prior to the transfer of the child out of the country. Such guidelines should consider how families in countries of origin can be assisted in keeping their children, as well as incorporate and strengthen wider options of informal family and community care. The exclusivist clean-break approach in adoptions that erases the child’s previous kin ties should be replaced by the acknowledgement of such ties. This would include accommodating adoptees’ and first parents’ need to know about each other and making open adoption available, in which adoptive and first family members remain in contact after adoption.

ISS Working Paper Series/General Series (Vol. 598, pp. 1–19) International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)