Adopting Children from Areas of Crisis or Disaster

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Adopting Children from Areas of Crisis or Disaster

Each year, many natural disasters and acts of war separate families or orphan children, leaving them without immediate family members.

The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse certainly understands the concern about these children. In countries where a natural disaster or civil strife has occurred, the United Nations is routinely called in to help either re-establish order or to lead reconstruction or family reunion. The United National High Command for Refugees (UNHCR) has jurisdiction in deciding if and when children may be placed for adoption outside the country with non-relatives.

In most places, UNHRC's position is that these children are not available for adoption until and if civil order has been re-established, separated and displaced families reunited, and all in-country resources have been identified for these children.

The US Department of State position, in most cases, echoes the position of UNHRC regarding children orphaned by disaster or war. The State Department emphasizes that adopting children from these areas is not a feasible way to assist them. In general, adoptions are private civil legal matters governed by the laws of the nation where the child resides. Many countries give priority to their own citizens, and make adoption by foreigners very difficult.

In a crisis situation, it can be extremely difficult to determine whether a child whose parents are missing are truly orphans. It is not uncommon in a hostile situation for parents to send their children out of the area, or to become separated during an evacuation. Even when the child's parents are deceased, the child is often taken in by other relatives. Staying with relatives in extended family units is generally a better solution than uprooting the child from their home country, relatives, and local community

This material may be reproduced and distributed without permission; however, appropriate citation must be given to the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse.

This material has been taken from the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse Web site as reviewed and approved for addition to this site on January 15, 2004.

The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse http://naic.acf.hhs.gov, can be reached toll free at 1-888-251-0075,or by e-mail at: naic@calib.com.
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