The Corrupting Influence of the United States on a Vulnerable Intercountry Adoption System: A Guide for Stakeholders, Hague and Non-Hague Nations, NGOs, and Concerned Parties

David M. Smolin


The United States has been the most significant nation in the history and development of the modern intercountry adoption system.1 The United States was the receiving nation that initiated adoptions of South Korean children after the Korean War.2 Statistically speaking, approximately half of all children adopted internationally have come to the United States, with the percentage falling to around 40% since 2009.3 Practically speaking, this statistical dominance means that the characteristic ways in which the United States structures and practices intercountry adoption have a predominate influence on the entire system. Not surprisingly, the United States played a significant role in the development of international law governing intercountry adoption, including both the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)4 and the Hague Adoption Convention.5 The conceptions of adoption in the United States legal system have come to have a favored place in the intercountry adoption system, despite being minority or foreign concepts in much of the world.6

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