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Intercountry Adoption: Orphan Rescue or Child Trafficking?

Competing Claims Poster February 8-9, 2013

This conference focused on the important and complex topic of intercountry adoption. All who address this issue have a deep concern for the plight of orphans worldwide. In the Bible, James declares, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress." Praised by some and criticized by others, intercountry adoption remains a matter of deep contention on the global stage. Proponents see it as a way to give a purported 18.5 million adoptable orphans a family and a better life, while critics call it a door to corruption and cultural imperialism.

This conference sought to find understanding and common ground among these voices, while exploring the complex legal, religious and ethical issues raised by intercountry adoption. Our objectives for this conference included:

  • Finding common ground among conflicting points of view regarding intercountry adoption
  • Exploring current barriers to intercountry adoption such as legal regulations in both sending and receiving countries
  • Viewing faith and social science together to form a more complete picture of intercountry adoption
  • Providing knowledge and guidance for families with adopted children and those looking to adopt

We brought together lawyers, scholars, pastors, adoptive families, and adoptees to investigate the future of intercountry adoption

Panels and Presentations

  • Orphan Rescue or Child Trafficking: A Generational Perspective
  • Case Study: Uganda
  • Abusive Practices in Intercountry Adoption
  • The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption: Past, Present and Future
  • Special Needs Adoption from China: Reframing Discourses Of Value And Rescue In The Chinese Transnational Adoption Program
  • Theological Perspectives on Intercountry Adoption
  • Adoption Trends: Causes and Solutions
  • Adoptee Adjustment and Identity Formation within the Family
  • The Christian Intercountry Adoption Movement
  • Special Legal Topics Raised by Intercountry Adoption
  • Adult Adoptee Citizenship and Intercountry Adoption
  • Older Children Adopted Internationally Through Hosting Programs: The Adoptee's Perspective
  • Forgotten, Detained, Removed: Transnational Adopted Persons and Citizenship Rights
  • Intercountry Adoption: The Multi-dimensionality of Identity Development
  • Intercountry Adoption Best Practices
  • Interfaith Perspectives: How Religion Informs Adoption Law
  • Lessons From Global Receiving Countries
  • Attachment, Development and Learning Struggles Related to Intercountry Adoptee

Featured Speakers

  • Bert Ballard, Ph.D, Assistant Professor in Communication at Pepperdine University
  • Elizabeth Bartholet, Morris Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and Faculty Director and Founder of the Child Advocacy Program (CAP)
  • Naomi Goodno, Associate Professor of Law and Director, Byrne Judicial Clerkship Institute, Pepperdine School of Law
  • Ambassador Susan Jacobs, Special Advisor to the Secretary for Children's Issues
  • Jedd Medefind, President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans
  • Dr. Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Chairperson of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
  • Whitney Reitz, Senior Policy Advisor on International Child Welfare
  • Dr. Peter Selman, Visiting Fellow in the School of Geography, Politics & Sociology at the Newcastle University
  • David Smolin, Harwell G. Davis Professor of Constitutional Law, and Director, Center for Children, Law, and Ethics at Cumberland Law School, Samford University

For more details, download the conference brochure here.