Date01 July 1993
Published date01 July 1993
Michael Humphrey and Heather Humphrey (eds)
Inter-Country Adoption:
Practical Experiences,
London: Routledge, 1992, 149 pp, pb E10.99.
Described as a collection of ‘travellers’ tales,’ this book presents eight separate
accounts of experiences faced by couples who have resorted to inter-country adoption
as a means of satisfying their desire for parenthood. In each case the failure of new
birth technologies, coupled with the limited availability of domestic adoption, led
the particular couple to seek an infant or young child of a different race from a
third world country. The book is essentially a pooling of the knowledge and resources
of these couples and an indication of traps for the unwary, the inexperienced
the poor.
inter-country adoption is an expensive business and, with one obvious
exception, the contributors
all middle-class, articulate and well-educated, eager
to share the physical and emotional excitement of long-haul travel, the vagaries
of foreign bureaucracies and the achievement of their ultimate goal. Despite the
bad press inter-country adoption has had, since the white childless middle classes
descended on Romanian orphanages, these accounts will elicit enormous sympathy
for those thwarted by adoption agencies at home. In the
a dearth of
white babies available for adoption, children in need of homes are often physically
emotionally disturbed, there is a ban on mixed race placements
anyway, and the local agencies eliminate most prospective adopters aver the age
of thirty-five (unless they are prepared to adopt an older child with special needs).
A typical response to inter-country adoption inquiries in the past has been to point
to the numbers of ‘hard to place’ British children and to query the acceptability
of putting British resources towards helping couples who wish to bypass these children
in what is sometimes perceived as a selfish desire for a healthy infant. In part, the
book supports and reinforces that stance. The eight contributors all sought a young,
healthy, white
pale brown skinned child, in order to complete their families,
and were uncompromising in their rejection of a handicapped
special needs British
child. In each case the contributors were caring, rational couples who wanted a
child for their own fulfilment and did not see themselves as a charity
as social
workers. Why should their desire for a ‘normal’ family not be fulfilled in order
to give undreamed-of advantages to a deprived foreign child? The reader will be
captivated by the dedication and earnest endeavour with which these people, each
in their own way, secured their little ‘Rodrigo’ and registered him as ‘William’
or ‘Benedict
Accounts of practical experiences, written in multifarious styles by a variety of
contributors, will invariably focus on the general as opposed to the particular. This
book does just that. Consequently, its value to lawyers in terms of procedural and
immigration information will be slight, not least because most contributors preferred
to explain their emotional reaction to the legal procedures rather than the procedures
themselves. What the lawyer will learn is that there is more than one way to achieve
an inter-country adoption. The editors have attempted to rectify this lack of parti-
cularity by including a chapter by John Triseliotis, an academic social worker, and
one entitled ‘A View from the Commons’ by Peter Thurnham, MP. These two
chapters mar the overall sucess of the book. The Triseliotis chapter is a solid academic
piece, surveying the background to inter-country adoption and the range of studies
carried out on the subject, and offering some coherent arguments for and against
the practice. But it is out of place here. As with the Thurnham chapter, its alien
The Modern Law Review Limited 1993 (MLR 56:4, July). Published by Blackwell
Publishers, 108 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1JF and 238 Main Street, Cambridge,
MA 02142,

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT