Rise in Institutionalized Children
Healthy White Children
A study performed by psychologists at the University of Liverpool suggests that Madonna-style international adoption is causing an increase in the number of children residing in orphanages. Statistics showed that EU countries that had the highest numbers of institutionalized children had the highest rates of couples who had participated in an international adoption. The higher numbers of international adoptions should have corresponded to a reduction in those children who are institutionalized, but the opposite turned out to be true. Researchers showed that parents in countries like Spain and France prefer to adopt white children in good health from other countries, rather than ethnic minority children from their own countries.
After singer Madonna adopted a Zambian boy in 2006, this type of international adoption was termed the "Madonna-effect." Statistics have shown that the media-hype surrounding this high-profile adoption led to an increase in international adoptions at the expense of local, institutionalized orphans.
Professor Kevin Browne, a child psychologist has said, "Some argue that international adoption is, in part, a solution to the large number of children in institutional care, but we have found the opposite is true. Closely linked to the Madonna-effect, we found that parents in poor countries are now giving up their children in the belief that they will have a 'better life in the west' with a more wealthy family."
Browne commented that some celebrities had encouraged international adoption even though it has been proven that some 96% of children in European orphanages have one living parent who will often turn out to be known to local agencies. This bending of the rules means that international adoption can be easier than adopting in a country where stricter standards are enforced. There are big gains for the governments and orphanages involved in international adoptions, but this is all taking place in contravention of the UN Convention of Rights of the Child, which states that this type of adoption is a last resort where other means of seeking placement for a child within his country of birth have failed.
The researchers in this study have made a recommendation that better monitoring policies and practices be put into place to make sure that international adoption be used only when all other means for placement have been exhausted.
The study consisted of an analysis of data from 33 European countries. The data gave details on the numbers, ethnicity, and background of children who lived in orphanages for a period longer than 3 months.