From Intercountry Adoption to Global Surrogacy delivers some powerful insights into the exploitation of children and women in what is inarguably a global market place. Throughout, Karen Smith Rotabi and Nicole Bromfield, who are well qualified to write this book, challenge poor practices while remaining respectful to all stakeholders and without resorting to unnecessary sentimentality. The subject is broad and the implications of both intercountry adoption and global surrogacy are far reaching. The authors explore the grey areas of these practices with delicacy, while maintaining a strong focus on human rights and ethical practices. The content is well supported by contemporary research and the book offers new insights, as well as covering known territory.The book comprises 10 chapters. It begins with a historical account and a critical exploration of the concept of child rescue in South Korea, Vietnam, South America, China, Cambodia, Haiti, Samoa, Ireland and Spain. In Chapter 2, the authors tackle political influence on adoption systems through an examination of residential‐care institutions in Romania and Russia, which probably count among the worst historical examples of neglect in institutional care. They do not shy away from scandals or the disturbing cases of dissolution, mental illness and rehoming that unfortunately occur in intercountry adoption.In Chapter 3, they address imbalances of power, which are firmly grounded in poverty and social circumstances, using specific country examples to understand the position of mothers, fathers and families, whose children are adopted, and the development of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co‐operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption designed to offer protection to children and their families.A unique contribution to the field is their coverage of human and child right violations in Chapter 4 on Guatemala, where corruption is a significant problem. This chapter presents the historical context and the impact of its history of genocide and violence against women on adoption and fraudulent practices, adoption reform and the present state of Guatemalan adoptions. Examples of criminality and abuses are disturbing. Corruption, also prevalent in global surrogacy, persists in intercountry adoption and ethical practices continue to be hampered by the role of money and the profits that are made in the global context.Chapter 5 illustrates unique issues in adoption by presenting Indian scandals in the adoption system and child protection initiatives in India and the USA, and by exploring the differences between these countries in their implementation of the Hague convention. The international adoption of US children, often biracial, to Canada and Europe, which are often privately arranged and expensive, has received little scholarly attention. The authors describe some of these adoptions as a distortion of the ‘best‐interests’ principle, when, as one lawyer proclaimed, such adoptions escape race‐relations issues. This argument is problematic as there are local adoption placements available for these children and receiving countries are not devoid of racism. The money associated with these adoptions represent an ambiguous area, where the concept of reasonable expenses can be challenged. The ethics of dealing with agencies in sending countries that have dubious practices and how these relationships support systemic abuses is rightly challenged.Chapter 6, entitled ‘Sins of the Saviours’, delves into the perfidious state of African adoptions that emerged as the last frontier of a largely unregulated source of children. Unsurprisingly, the state of being an orphan arrived with Western humanitarian interventions and, since the establishment of intercountry adoption practices, African nations have struggled to establish the formal structures necessary to protect children and families in resource‐poor and often‐corrupt environments.The final section addresses global surrogacy (Chapter 7) and the ethical issues, scandals and risks through the voices of US (Chapter 8) and Indian (Chapter 9) surrogate mothers. The authors identify child rights in global surrogacy, particularly problems with parentage and statelessness, the protection of surrogate mothers and the need for regulating practices as key issues. Of particular interest is Chapter 9, co‐authored by Lopamudra Goswami, on commercial surrogacy in India, where the surrogate mothers in their study clearly felt emotional bonds with the child they carried and suffered distress at their separation. This interesting finding counters research suggesting that surrogate mothers do not bond with the children they carry for others in the same way that they do with their own genetically related children. Chapter 10 concludes this book with an examination of the future of intercountry adoption, global surrogacy and new frontiers.The complexities of intercountry adoption and global surrogacy are far more nuanced than the ‘win‐win‐win’ scenario often described in the media and some publications. The key question the authors pose is how can one intervene ethically. For answers, at each turn, they draw on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in particular the prevention of separation and family preservation and deinstitutionalisation, and the Convention on the Protection of Children and Co‐operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The authors build a compelling story that includes the influence of technological advancements in the future of family formations and, as they state, although they have been clear about exploitation in both intercountry adoption and surrogacy, they are more flexible in their consideration of surrogacy. The middle road between their commitment to women's right to make decisions about their own bodies, while simultaneously acknowledging the vulnerability of surrogate women in poor circumstances and the need for regulatory protections, is a difficult position to straddle. Importantly, they highlight the vulnerability of children in adoptions and surrogacy. As enshrined in the Hague conventions, children's interests are paramount, although the nature of these interests is often debated.Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. It is written in an easy‐to‐read style that flows well. I would recommend that all professionals and stakeholders working with children, or who are party to the practices of intercountry adoption and global surrogacy, make From Intercountry Adoption to Global Surrogacy compulsory reading.
International Journal of Social Welfare – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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