Over the past decade, the USA has adopted at least 15,000 children internationally each year. Due to less regulation, corruption and human trafficking, these poorer such as Guatemala are facing serious issues. The corruption and human trafficking have become so severe that countries such as Romania have placed a ban on all international adoptions. At the same time there are numerous children in America in the foster care system waiting to be adopted. As the proposition, we would like to begin the debate by stating our policy as a definition and give some brief context on the issue. Following that we will outline our first argument and present our evidence. The proposition for this debate is that international adoption should be banned. To be more specific, we are proposing that American citizens be banned from adopting children from any country other than the United States of America. For the purposes of this debate, the proposition will take on the role of the federal government of the USA. We feel this is appropriate given the fact that more international adoption takes place in American than any other country. We hope that this will make the debate more pertinent and relatable to real world conditions.
All the Yes points:
- American citizens should be banned from adopting children internationally because currently there is great need for adoption domestically.
All the No points:
- Duty of state versus rights of citizens
- Actual realities of International Adoption – Why People do it.
American citizens should be banned from adopting children internationally because currently there is great need for adoption domestically.
After WWII, United States citizens began adopting children from other countries in large numbers. Between 1971 and 2001, America has adopted far more children internationally than any other country, more than 265,000. According to the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, international adoptions have more than doubled over the past 11 years. [[http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/FactOverview/international.html]] Adopted children come from countries all around the world. However, Guatemala, China, Russia and S. Korea make up a large majority.
At the same time, the USA is faced with a very serious problem. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services between 1999-2006, an average of 129,884 children are in public foster care every year waiting to be adopted. [[http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/afcars/waiting2006.htm]] In 2008, American couples adopted 17,229 children from abroad. This presents our government with a very grim reality. Despite the fact that literally hundreds of thousands of American born children are in need of basic care from real parents, over 17,000 couples ignored this fact and made the decision to adopt children from other counties. We firmly believe that we have a right to help all American citizens, orphans included, before we take into account problems of other nations.
At this point, we feel the context is sufficient to state our opening argument. American citizens should be banned from adopting children internationally because currently there is great need for domestic adoption. Nowadays, there are far too many unwanted children domestically in American that need parents to adopt them. As the federal government of the USA, we have the constitutional responsibility to protect the basic rights of our citizens with a higher priority than those of other nations. As we will show below, children in foster care in America are being deprived of their basic rights of equal opportunity and pursuit of happiness. Until this problem is remedied, we cannot justify allowing American couples to meet their adoption needs abroad. As full citizens of the USA, we are determined to do everything within reason to provide these children with an equal opportunity to life a full and happy life. We also believe that adopting internationally has negative and unintended effects and may not be in the best interest of the child. We will discuss this argument in greater detail in our rebuttal.
The foster care system in America is under critical stress and in desperate need of more couples willing to adopt. In 2004, ABC news conducted a special report on the nation’s foster care system. Here are some of their findings: 520, 000 kids end up in foster care every year, costing taxpayers $40,000 a head and 22 billion dollars total every year. 40,000 infants are placed in foster care every year. 20% of these kids end up in the system for 5 years are more. But, despite these revealing statistics we saved the most important one for last: “Thirty percent of the homeless in America and some 25 percent of those in prison were once in foster care.” “ [[http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/FosterCare/Story?id=2017991&page=2]] These are the forgotten and neglected children of America. Being in foster care, they are deprived of a loving family, an essential element to living a balanced and stable life. They end up in the system for years, taken care of by adults whose only qualifications are that they can provide them with the very basic care of food and shelter. It is not surprising then that they are much more likelihood than any other demographic to end up homeless or in jail. I ask the opposition, how can we allow a single couple to adopt a baby from another country as long as this current problem exists?
With such a supply of children needing parents to adopt them, many would wonder why so many American couples choose to adopt kids from overseas in the first place. This is, of course, is at the heart of the issue. If there is any strong opposition, it must be able to give a compelling reason why people should be allowed to adopt internationally. Based on our research, we have listed the most common reasons why people adopt as follows: There is less chance the birth parent will change their mind and try to reclaim the child legally; Less chance the biological parents will try and find their children later in life; There are too many restrictions to adopting domestically and it takes longer. While we do sympathize with these reasons, we do not find any of them compelling. The fact remains that in 2008 there was potentially 17,000 couples who could have adopted domestically but chose to go abroad instead. That means there are 17,000 kids still in the foster care system in American that doesn’t need to be.
All 17,000 of those adoption cases would likely not have happened in America. The main reason being that adoption requirements domestically are often stricter than those in other countries. These strict laws regulate and help orphans to find much more qualified parents. Many times, before adopting kids, training classes are required. For example, the state of Kansas requires that prospective parents attend Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) classes. [[http://adoption.about.com/od/adopting/a/domint.htm]] So to deal with the current number of over 1 million children in foster care, the government proposes to have international adoption banned and put our own national domestic problems as the number one priority.
Mr e-Speaker, ladies, gentlemen and malignant viruses, it is a pleasure to sit on my backside today and bring the forth the crushing logic of the opposition case. We do not contradict or quibble with the harm Proposition has identified – that children in care are likely to be fundamentally disadvantaged in their life prospects by institutional care, indeed we hold it up and exalt it as a pillar of our case. We say that harms in foster/institutional care are great in America the richest nation, but that the deprivation and squalor is even greater in Columbia.
Our opposition will be brought to you in the traditional fashion – we have numerous charges we wish to bring to proposition’s case and our individual points of rebuttal shall be skilfully woven throughout. Firstly, we shall question the two problems brought by Proposition, namely those of human trafficking and the quality of foster care and show that any link between them and their proposed solution is an accident at best. Secondly, we shall examine their analysis that the state has a ‘”constitutional responsibility to protect the basic rights of our citizens with a higher priority “ and show that in its simplicity they have misunderstood the duty of the state and how it carries it out. Finally, we will look at why a large number of international adoptions actually occur.
Before this though, just some quick rebuttal of the mechanism. We say that proposition’s attempt to ban international adoption only by Americans is simply not an enforceable policy. There are numerous situations where this can be circumvented. The problem instead is with the country which allows them to adopt (their example being Romania) not the country from which the adoptive parents come from. In reality, what’s to stop those American parents from migrating to Malawi, adopting a child and moving back with their legal dependant? The way you stop child adoption is to get the Malawi government to ban international adoption of their nationals, not the American government banning international adoption by their national, but we’ll roll with the debate set up anyway.
So firstly, we see that proposition have attempted to draw a somewhat tenuous line between international adoption and trafficking. We think every single problem they have mentioned could be solved by the US federal adoption agencies doing checks on foreign as well as domestic adoptions. We would point opposition to the UK guidelines;
“The government encourages intercountry adoption in circumstances where:
the child cannot be cared for in any suitable manner in their own country
the adoption would be in the best interests of the child and with respect to the child’s fundamental rights as recognised in international law
the adopter has been assessed as eligible and suitable to adopt from overseas by an adoption agency “
(taken from https://www.gov.uk/child-adoption/adopting-a-child-from-overseas
As always we believe the USA would be best served by following British social policy and we feel if these guidelines are followed, problems such as corruption and abuse would be solved. We think the Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) classes in Kansas sound excellent, make people adopting abroad do them as well!
The second, and only other problem that first proposition brought to us was that foster care in America sucks. We think they may be right, we’re certainly not going to waste time disputing it. However their solution is simply to try and get as many people out of it as possible. We think it may be better to try and repair the ship first before shouting ‘To the lifeboats!’.
This is because, unfortunately, there are large numbers of children out there who are ‘unadoptable’, so to speak. This can be due to physiological problems from their upbringing, past drug addictions, or criminal records. We think that these children will unfortunetly remain in care till adulthood, regardless of proposition’s mechanism. Instead we would promote things like the ‘CORE’ program in New York, from which 79% of the programs graduates go onto college. These programs help combine a social and educational network for foster home children with residential camps and various other tools. This proves that the state itself can provide a nourishing family environment, rather than relying on existing parents.
We think maybe the state should provide more funding. Better training should be given to staff in foster homes. More equal access schemes can be created. Proposition have as yet failed to give us a reason why foster care will always lead to such disastrous outcomes such as prison. We believe in hope, we believe in change, we believe in Barrack Obama to reform the system!
Duty of state versus rights of citizens
Onto our second point. We don’t necessarily believe that the US movement has a duty to absolutely prioritise benefits for its own citizen over others. It certainly isn’t visible in current policy, we see that the US Government currently spends money on charitable causes abroad that could instead be spent at home. Lets ask a rather basic questions, what is the duty of a government?
Lets look at absolute rights. We think do think that the American state has a duty to first and foremost to provide basic rights to its citizens. Proposition said that these included ‘equal opportunity and pursuit of happiness’. We’re not so sure about the pursuit of happiness – should the state pay for my holiday home in the Florida keys? But we can agree with equal opportunities.
However when the state has a duty to provide something, it should provide it. What it shouldn’t do is try and force that burden upon individual citizens. Tools such as taxation effect everyone proportionately. However adoption is a choice, one that shouldn’t be artificially limited by the State for its own ends, as this is unfair on citizens, who for whatever reason, need to adopt.
Why is this? Well we think all citizens have rights, and that one of the basic rights is that to procreate. I can choose to have a child by normal biological reasons, who will almost certainly share several of my states, instead of adopting. Why, if I suddenly decide to adopt, does my choice become limited. Why do I become a tool of the state? We think placing a higher burden on those who can’t naturally conceive does breach several human rights.
Instead we think that state can and should provide basic rights such as equal opportunities through tools already mentioned, such as the CORE initiative. This places the burden upon the state itself, rather than upon a few individuals. Like wise these initiatives are open to all, rather than helping a few lucky more children get adopted. We think the very nature of these fundamental rights is that they should be given to all, something which propositions mechanism fails to do, as it obviously can’t guarantee a 100% adoption rate, something that we shall now look at further in our third point.
Actual realities of International Adoption – Why People do it.
So even if we accepted the premise from the proposition that foster homes are bad and that the state can place this problem at the feet of prospective parents, we would point out that the proposition has provided no link between banning international adoption and solving the problems of domestic adoption.
Their problem is that they assume that all those who internationally adopt do so instead of domestically. This is incorrect.
Whilst there might be a small minority who decide not to go through the system most people who internationally adopt do so either because the American system has failed to find them a suitable match or because they have some link to the child/country in question.
The first one is self explanatory, so onto the second. The United States has the highest level of immigration of any country in the world. These are people who are fleeing what they believe to be a worse life in another country to come live in the US. This bad life which they had in their previous home, is probably had by many of the children in that country as well. Is it that surprising that many people who successfully get citizenship in the US then want to help others escape the poverty that they did? We don’t think it’s a surprise that many of the countries from which there are high adoption rates are also many of the countries from which there are high rates of immigration.
Family members, children of close friends, many of these children have lost their parents and would domestically be an ideal case for adoption from a close friend/relative.
Why should we deprive these children the right to escape the foster care that proposition claims is so damaging?
We do not accept the premise that parents who adopt Internationally are doing so for convenience only. It’s not the case that all of these parents would then adopt domestically. In the majority of cases you are denying the benefits of an adopted life to a child from a poor country, in favour of nothing at all. This isn’t a good thing.
Moreover why should we deny the parents the right to adopt these children? Parents shape their children so that a part of them can live on. In domestic adoption we allow for racial categorisation for example, where we try to match up children from certain racial backgrounds with similar parents. Whilst these are not absolutist rules, we see an acknowledgement that that the principle of sitting the best child with the best parent is a good one. Many parents who cannot conceive, choose to adopt an extended family member or friend from their own country. Someone they can relate to, someone they can feel justified in teaching their traditions and culture to, someone they can care about more. We think that this is a benefit which many parents are looking for, and why many choose international adoption. That not only takes me back to my point therefore that they wouldn’t adopt domestically if banned from international, but also, the problems of adoption aren’t solved by finding lots of homes, but by finding suitable homes. We think that allowing parents the right to adopt a child which they can love and care for the most is one which benefits parents, children and ultimately the rest of society.