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UNICEF Continues its Anti-Adoption Crusade

LisaS's picture

By LisaS - Posted on 05 February 2008

UNICEF worked hard the last year to convince the Guatemalan authorities to halt international adoptions by applying consistent pressure on the President and the Guatemalan Congress to change the adoption laws. There are even rumors that they promised the Guatemalan congress twenty-five million dollars if they overhauled the adoption process. When the new adoption law was passed, UNICEF was quick to congratulate the President. 


Here is UNICEF’s stance on intercountry adoption, taken from their website:

"The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which guides UNICEF’s work, clearly states that every child has the right to know and be cared for by his or her own parents, whenever possible.  Recognizing this, and the value and importance of families in children’s lives, UNICEF believes that families needing support to care for their children should receive it, and that alternative means of caring for a child should only be considered when, despite this assistance, a child’s family is unavailable, unable or unwilling to care for him or her. For children who cannot be raised by their own families, an appropriate alternative family environment should be sought in preference to institutional care which should be used only as a last resort and as a temporary measure. Inter-country adoption is one of a range of care options which may be open to children, and for individual children who cannot be placed in a permanent family setting in their countries of origin, it may indeed be the best solution.  In each case, the best interests of the individual child must be the guiding principle in making a decision regarding adoption. "

Although UNICEF clearly states that an alternative family is preferred to institutional care, the new adoption law in Guatemala may just send thousands more children to orphanages and the streets. It is one thing to come up with grandiose mission statements, but UNICEF needs to take responsibility for the influence they have.

Will any new money from this organization be going to poor families to help them support their children? Will they contribute to the existing orphanages? I’ve yet to hear of one cent going towards any new UNICEF projects in Guatemala since the new adoption law came into effect.

Recently I heard some more disturbing news: UNICEF is trying to stop adoptions of Haitian children by Americans. I received this information in an email from a woman who reported that UNICEF is pushing hard for new adoption laws in Haiti that would make it unbelievably difficult to adopt from Haiti. And just how is this going to benefit the orphans of Haiti?  You can read more about this here

UNICEF’s policy for children orphaned by war or natural disasters is just as tragic and misguided as their intervention in intercountry adoption. "The case of children separated from their parents and communities during war or natural disasters merits special mention.  It cannot be assumed that such children have neither living parents nor relatives. Even if both their parents are dead, the chances of finding living relatives, a community and home to return to after the conflict subsides exist.  Thus, such children should not be considered for inter-country adoption, and family tracing should be the priority. This position is shared by UNICEF, UNHCR, the International Confederation of the Red Cross, and international NGOs such as the Save the Children Alliance."

My question is how many children have actually been reunited with family members? I want to see the numbers from UNICEF, proof that this policy is successful. Nothing I’ve seen in the news implies that millions of orphans are reunited with their families, yet UNICEF, among others, continue to decide for millions of children that starvation and homelessness in their own country is preferable to intercountry adoption. Does anyone ever ask the children what they want?

As many of my readers from my past blogging position are aware, I have been ranting and raving about UNICEF’s irresponsible and disastrous policies for a long time. So you can imagine my delight in reading this less than favorable article about UNICEF in Newsweek. The article didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know, but I’m sure that the average person who may readily contribute to this organization might be a little shocked by what UNICEF is really doing, or should I say, not doing.

I was sorry that the article did not mention that UNICEF has been financing summer camps for Palestinian children where they are encouraged to become suicide bombers. You can read more about that here


Image Credit: flickr



d's picture

Unfortunately you are correct that UNICEF is now trying to close Haitian adoptions. We now have two children "stuck" in Guatemala and just brought home a little guy from Haiti after an adoption that took 21 months. After seeing what I saw in both countries, my feelings on UNICEF are not suitable for print.

LisaS's picture

I'm so sorry you have two children stuck in Guatemala - what stage are they in the process? I wonder what we can do to stop UNICEF in its tracks.

Tricia's picture

I have contacted UNICEF numerous times requesting statistics on the numbers of children that have been reunited with families....but imagine that, no response and no evidence

Shocking, huh?

Words cannot adequately express my disdain for their organization.

LisaS's picture

Hi Tricia,
Maybe we need to bombard them with thousands of emails. What email address did yoiu use? Maybe we can get something going here!


Lisa Pietsch's picture

When you start the email campaign against UNICEF (and the UN for that matter), count me IN!

soblessed's picture

I'll be GLAD to write an email, a letter, a fax, make some phone calls, whatever ;)

SandraHanksBenoiton's picture

Amazing how the "communication machine" part of the UN breaks down when they're not spoonfeeding "information" to the public, isn't it?

Sandra Hanks Benoiton
"The road to hell is paved with unbought stuffed dogs." Hemingway

BethPie's picture

I think I may be more disturbed (if that's even possible) by the fact that they are pro-terrorism than the fact that they are anti-adoption.

LisaS's picture

Amen. They definitely have a political agenda, which is pretty much anti-American in my opinion. If you go to their site, you'll notice they mention that "wealthy" Americans are adopting children from other countries. Yes, wealthy by third world standards, but many of us probably make less than UNICEF employees.

Anonymous's picture

UNICEF is behind the Liberian adoption uproar also...

chromesthesia's picture

Why are they doing this?
Do they even live in the real world? Do they WANT children to languish in orphanages forever or wander the streets?
I don't think they did a whole lot of good for Romania.

SandraHanksBenoiton's picture

The UN in the real world? Checked out their vehicles of choice in dirt poor countries lately?

I know you know this, Iorek, but it's good to keep pounding these points home. That's for giving me the opening.

Sandra Hanks Benoiton
"The road to hell is paved with unbought stuffed dogs." Hemingway

chromesthesia's picture

there has to be a way to stop them. At least to get their moronic oar out of this.
If I don't have enough to be annoyed about I saw some foolish site that is probably a prank, but it's SO NOT FUNNY when people in other countries already think Americans are adopting to harvest organs. ARG!

LisaS's picture

Many people in Guatemala, including the previous vice-president, believe that some people adopt in order to harvest organs. Incredibly tragic.

chromesthesia's picture

That's why a site like that, even if it is a joke, and I think it is REALLY doesn't help matters much.
Plus that's just not funny.

Davilyn's picture

Lisa - I am very aware of these issues, which were also raised in 1969 in Canada when we adopted our son who is a Native(aboriginal)Canadian. At that time, there apparently was a (possibly unwritten)policy on the part of government to try to assimilate aboriginal Canadian children as a way of solving the "Indian" problem. A lot of children were "stolen" from troubled families without sincere effort to find suitable parental substitutes when the family fell apart for whatever reasons. Some years later, many of these children were "repatriated" to their home communities, almost always with disastrous results.

I don't think that there are any easy answers to cross-cultural/international adoption issues, and I think it is very important to make every effort to attempt to find family members to parent an orphaned or abandoned child. However, I know that: there are still thousands of aboriginal children in foster care in Canada; foster care of aboriginal children has become a major source of employment in the prairie provinces of Western Canada; there are NOT anywhere near enough available aboriginal families to take these parentless children in; and that the children suffer their entire lives because they were not nurtured in a loving family.

Now, in comparison to Guatemala, Haiti, and other countires, the foster care system in Canada is wonderful, and it too is failing our aboriginal children in almost every way. So I can only encourage everyone who is attempting to adopt a Guatemalan child to keep on trying, because the options for these children are unacceptable in their countries of origin.

Personally, I think that the emphasis in our society on belonging to a country/race/religion or any type of group is detrimental to the development of the human race. As soon as we are "a part of" a particular group, we are excluding others. Once we exclude anyone, it is much easier to isolate them, marginalize them and eventually make war on them. It is time to focus on our common humanity - not our differences and cultural needs. Hurray for International Adoption!

SandraHanksBenoiton's picture


Thank you for this terrific comparison ... one most people have not considered, and one so valid. If Canada can't get this right, how in the world are countries like Guatemala and Haiti to be expected to care adequately for the thousands upon thousands of children in their desperately poor countries?

Excellent point!

Sandra Hanks Benoiton
"The road to hell is paved with unbought stuffed dogs." Hemingway

LisaS's picture

Great post, big sis!
Lisa S.

gantengeuy2's picture

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