Bartholet knows this yet proliferates lies, intentionally and deliberately using false statistics on the number of "orphans" globally. CAP and CAP repeatedly quote a figure of 143 million orphans--a number well known to them to be extremely overinflated inasmuch as 88.7% of children in orphanages worldwide are not orphans but have at last one living parent and are not eligible for adoption.(8) Many families in under-developed areas of the world use institutional care temporarily and to obtain medical care they cannot otherwise afford. Both of Madonna's adoptions--supported by ACT--are explicit examples of children in orphanages, many of whom have extended families that could care for them, if provided with the support to do so.(9)
In Mozambique, when funding ran out for institutions, 80% of children were able to be reunified with their families, according to Jini Roby, attorney and social worker who researches and teaches global issues of children at risk at Brigham Young University, Ninety-eight percent of caregivers given assistance that was more cost effective than institutional care were able to keep their families together until children reached adulthood.
With nearly 90% of the 143 million children residing in orphanages not able to be adopted, that leaves slightly less than 1.4 million children. Bartholet also knows, however, that 95% of all institutionalized children are over five years of age, and many have special needs, while those being adopted are under five.(10) U.S. visa statistics validate that almost 90% percent of all American adoptions are for children under the age of 5, not the children "languishing" in orphanages. The breakdown is 46% are under a year; 43% 1-4 years; 8% 5-9 years; 3% over 9.
The international adoptions she promotes are not helping the children who need it the most. Holt International found that most children in care in Cambodia, for instance, were over the age of 8 and therefore ineligible for international adoption. Only 132 children in institutions were one year old or younger--fewer babies than Westerners adopted every two months.
Researchers from the University of Liverpool found that EU countries with the highest rates of children living in institutions and high numbers of international adoptions did not reduce the number the number of children in institutional care but attributed to an increase. The study found that people in countries such as France and Spain are choosing to adopt healthy, white children from abroad rather than children from their own country. Similarly, more that one hundred thousand children in U.S. foster care who could be adopted are ignored by Americans who adopt internationally.
Reducing international adoptions allows those within the country an opportunity to adopt without the insurmountable competition of outside dollars. International adoption creates barriers to domestic adoption both in the "sending" and "receiving" counties.
In Direct Opposition of Fact
Bartholet, who has said that "heritage is over-rated"(11), posits that:
"International adoption is under siege, with the number of children placed dropping each of the last several years, and many countries imposing severe new restrictions [against kidnapping, stealing and corruption]. Key forces mounting the attack claim the child human rights mantle, arguing that such adoption denies heritage rights, and often involves abusive practices. Many nations assert rights to hold onto the children born within their borders, and others support these demands citing subsidiarity principles. But children's most basic human rights, at the heart of the true meaning of subsidiarity, are to grow up in the families that will often be found only in international adoption. These rights should trump any conflicting state sovereignty claims [emphasis added]. "
Only international adoption can provide needy children with caring families?
With this belief, ACT announced in November 2009 that CAP and CAP had been granted a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to present their concerns about a "dramatic decrease" in international adoptions, claiming that the closing of Guatemalan adoption in the wake of proven kidnappings for adoption, violates the human rights of children. (12) Bartholet's testimony attacked the principle of heritage and placed international adoption as a priority second only to a child remaining with their family, totally dismissing and discounting domestic adoption, creating an illusion that cold institutional care is the only alternative.(13)
Professor Bartholet's hyperbole includes unfounded claims contrary to fact such as: "Shutting down international adoption programs in Guatemala deprives thousands of children per year of the chance to grow up in nurturing homes, rather than life-destroying orphanages. That's an evil that should count for more."(14) A lesser "evil" than baby selling, a far more serious and insidious, universally punishable felony?
Yet in Guatemala--as Bartholet well knows--that 80% of children adopted in 2006 were under one year of age.(15, 16) Older children and children with disabilities are left behind as the attorneys represented by ACT, CAP and AAAA help fill a demand for babies. In fact, 98 percent of U.S. adoptions from Guatemala were babies who had never seen the inside of an institution were signed over directly to a private attorney who approved the international adoption--for a very considerable fee--without any review by a judge or social service agency.(17)
In Whose "Best Interest"?
ACT is right on target when they state that children being dislocated from their families "have no seat at the policy table, and no voice." Their claim, however, that their pro-adoption position speaks for or represents the children whose custody is being transferred assumes that children want advocates who support adoption more than they desire helping their families overcome temporary, non-endangering problems allowing them to remain intact.
No one disputes that children who are truly orphaned and have no extended family to care for them properly, require alternative care. There is also little dispute by the majority of child advocates and adoption experts that international adoption is ripe with corruption, exploitation and trafficking of children.