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Columbia Human Rights Law Review




After a long history of secrecy in domestic adoption in the United States, there is a robust trend toward openness. That is, however, not the case with international adoption. The recent growth in international adoption has been spurred, at least in part, by the desire of adoptive parents to return to closed, confidential adoptions where the identity of the birth mother is secret and there is no ongoing contact with her. There is, however, an emergent interest in increased openness in international adoption, spurred by the success of domestic open adoptions, health concerns when an adoptee's genetic history is important, psychological issues relating to identity in adoptees, and concern that the international adoption might have been corrupt. International adoptive families who were once happy to avoid birth parent involvement have begun to seek them out.

Increased openness in international adoption is mandated by international human rights and, in particular, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. In addition, a growing body of research demonstrates that open adoptions are in the best interests of children as they grow and develop a sense of identity. The transparency of open adoption can also serve to ameliorate fraud and corruption in adoption. Therefore, countries involved in international adoption, and the international human rights community, need to take adopted children's right to identity seriously.

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Columbia Law School

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