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Sustainability of intercountry adoption compared with other alternative care measures


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The starting point is strict compliance with the most rigorous ethical standards in relation to all parties involved in the adoption process (birth family, child, adopters). The permanence of the child in his or her birth family or extended family and community is the first alternative to be considered, provided that the child's needs for nourishment, protection, affection and stimulation are met.

Stable care by alternative families is preferable to institutional care, the use of which should be limited and transitory, particularly in the early years. In the event of the child's adoptability, domestic adoption should be considered as the first alternative. Countries in need should be supported to meet these requirements.

Intercountry adoption will respond to the child's need for stimulation, affection and stability for those who do not meet the previous conditions. Decisions should be made avoiding unnecessary waiting times, for which the use of concurrent planning is recommended. A family life as soon and as stable as possible is the goal to be achieved for every child.

At a time when international adoption is in decline or openly questioned, its sustainability should be defended as long as the principles outlined here are met.


About Jesús Palacios

Jesús Palacios, Ph.D., is Professor of Developmental and Educational Psychology at the University of Seville, Spain. His research, teaching and professional activities are centered on family and children relationships. More specifically, he has developed expertise in the area of child protection, with adoption and foster care as the main areas of interest. Research studies include both domestic and intercountry adoptions, as well as kinship and stranger foster care. Practice work includes the development of professional tools for the preparation and suitability assessment of prospective adopters and foster carers. Publications include research articles in international journals, books and chapters in edited volumes. Prof. Palacios was the organizer of the Fourth International Conference on Adoption Research (ICAR4), held in Bilbao (Spain) in 2013.

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