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A New Zealand Intercountry Adoption Agency Accredited under the Adoption (Intercountry) Act 1997

VALUES AND ETHICS

Compassion for Orphans is a Christian non-profit charitable organisation. As a Christian organisation our values are taken from the Bible.

For ‘Compassion for Orphans’, the key Bible reference is James 1:27:

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself uncorrupted from the world”

An important part of the verse above is “to keep oneself uncorrupted from the world”.

Corruption causes countries and their societies to enter into moral and economic decay and is one of the major causes that leads countries into poverty, resulting in children abandoned by families. Other reasons why there are orphans and orphanages include:

  • war;
  • natural disasters;
  • ethnic conflicts; and;
  • extreme poverty.

Under no circumstances will ‘Compassion for Orphans’ tolerate any bribery or corruption. No payments will be made to any party unless they are expressly authorised, and are completely transparent to governments on both sides (Under no circumstances will payments be made to any government employee for their personal gain). Some people may attempt to justify bribery as 'expediency fees' in the same manner as paying for an express service (with a courier company for example). Any express service will be genuine and will be accompanied by a genuine receipt. Where bribery is considered a way of life in the adopting country and adoptions are not possible without paying bribes, ‘Compassion for Orphans’ will refuse to work in that country.

Some examples of corrupt practices and abuses (Source: UNICEF-innocenti digest) include:

  • The abduction of children;
  • Identifying vulnerable expectant mothers and inciting them to give up their newborn baby;
  • Falsely informing a mother that her baby was still born or died shortly after birth;
  • Payment for a child either directly to the family, the director or staff of an institution, or sometimes to the institution itself;
  • Offering women financial incentives to conceive a child specifically for adoption overseas;
  • Deliberately providing misleading information to the birth parents on the consequences of adoption, e.g. assuring them they will be able to stay in contact with their child;
  • Falsifying documentation, e.g. birth certificates, consent of birth parents, etc.;
  • Corruption of officials, judges in order to get a favourable decision, e.g. judges may accept false documents purporting to contain the consent of birth parents, and;
  • Seriously ill children e.g. HIV/Aids presented as healthy to prospective adoptive parents who would not have been prepared for the caring requirements.

Situations can also arise where some institutions that receive payments for foreign adoptions have few incentives to look for domestic solutions for the children as they have more to gain from foreign ones.  They may also make only half-hearted efforts to find the child’s biological family or neglect to ascertain whether the child had been placed in institutional care temporarily because of an emergency situation.

Many abuses and practices in intercountry adoption often happen in war or post war situations. Children in war situations often get separated from their parents and some time (usually at least 2 years) should be allowed to pass to allow for possible reunification with surviving family members.  Often a country’s judicial system may no longer be operational and therefore proper processes cannot be followed.

‘Compassion for Orphans’ believe that even though we, or people adopting a child, play only a small part in world events, we should make a stand and try and reverse the trend.

‘Compassion for Orphans’ will advise prospective adoptive parents that they should resolve before they travel not to be involved in corruption or bribery in any form no matter how desperate or costly to them a situation may appear.  Our advice is to walk away in every case. To succumb to bribery or corruption would be feeding one of the very things that causes orphans to end up in orphanages and would run the risk of adoptions being adversely affected. When irregularities are uncovered this often results in countries putting a moratorium on intercountry adoptions (which can result in more children being kept in institutional care).

‘Compassion for Orphans’ advice to prospective adoptive parents should they encounter corruption or bribery in any form will be to report it to ‘Compassion for Orphans’ for further action as appropriate or necessary

It may take a little longer to process a particular adoption but those concerned will have played their part to help prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic in children and therefore change the world in which we live.

In the longer term it is highly likely that an adopted child will want to discover his or her birth parents.  If it transpires that the child was not properly put up for adoption, there may be serious implications for the relationships between the adoptive parents and the adopted child. Also, in some cases, where illegal procedures have taken place, knowledge about a child’s background and medical history are lost forever. Research by the International Social Service has shown that many adopted children need to know as much as possible about their real identity in order to build balanced personalities.

Our experience has been that there are people overseas who have a genuine interest in the welfare of the children. These are the people we want to build relationships with.

Some of the moral issues or anti-intercountry adoption views that people may encounter or be challenged on include:

  • “That you are robbing a country of its children and the children of their culture and language”;
  • “That you have bought a baby”;
  • “That it is better to leave a child to be brought up in its own race and culture even if it means a lifetime in an institution”;
  • “That adopting a child is putting a band-aid on and ignoring the real problem which is helping a country out of poverty”, and;
  • “That trans-racial adoption can result in a child with a confused identity and racism can result.”

Provided every effort that has been made to find a family for a child in his or her own country has failed, and the child faces a bleak future of life in an institution, common sense would suggest that a child (no matter what race or culture) is better off being brought up in a loving family environment in a country such as New Zealand.

The procedures found in the 1993 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption (e.g. birth parents counselled, possibility of the child being adopted in their own country has been considered), have evolved as a result of the aforementioned issues and, if followed, should allow all concerned to have peace of mind that it is a truly abandoned child that is being adopted.

This explains why ‘Compassion for Orphans’ will only intermediate intercountry adoptions from countries who have ratified or acceded to the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption and governed by the Adoption (Intercountry) Act 1997.

However, it should be recognised that the fact that a country has agreed to international standards and processes is no guarantee that there will not be people who seek to circumvent the processes. It is important therefore that all involved (e.g. government officials, agencies, adoptive parents, etc) adhere scrupulously to internationally accepted standards.