Not everyone is convinced that the Children in Families First Act solves the problem of international child welfare. Let’s explore some of the points of view.
The bill’s opponents have voiced their opinions. For instance, the concern website PPL editors expressed is that the Act is too focused on increasing adoption agencies’ revenue. Instead, the act should advocate for children’s rights. They point out that the legislation’s primary supporters stand to profit from an increase in international adoptions, such as adoption agencies and adoption attorneys. They also argue that fewer international adoptions is a good thing. It proves that international adoptions only happen when they are needed.
Kathryn Whetten, a professor of public policy and global health, and the director of the Center for Health Policy at Duke University’s Global Health Institute, argues against the bill for a different reason. She says that the bill is well-intentioned. However, she doesn’t feel the bill recognizes that sometimes an orphanage or group home is the best option for children.
In an opinion article on NJ.com, Whetten expresses her concern that prioritizing parent-child reunions will downgrade the value of orphanages. In fact, the Children in Families First Act could actually place children back into situations where opportunities for education, growth, and development are scarce.
Others, like Susan Jacobs, the State Department’s special advisor on children’s issues, advocate for international adoption. Jacobs in particular believes there is no need for such legislation. She says existing programs address the needs of orphans worldwide already.
“I think we’ve been pretty successful recently,” says Jacobs, according to an article the Associated Press released. “We are proud of the work that we do to protect everyone involved in the adoption process—the birth families, the adopting families, and of course the children.” Jacobs also says that the U.S. has helped improve international adoptions and reduce corruption and abuse ever since they joined the Hague Adoption Convention in 2008. She even points to a pilot project that is set to resume some adoptions from Vietnam soon.
“Diplomacy is a slow process and can often be frustrating to people,” she says. “But I think we have a really good record.”
And Those in Between
Others oppose the bill, according to the Associated Press, simply because they worry about the reallocation of international child welfare funds. The bill may take money from programs that are performing essential work. One such example is the work of preventing and treating AIDs in children worldwide.