Some African “Orphans” Actually Have a Living Parent

Adoption of African children by foreigners is on the rise, but those would-be parents may not realize that the child they hope to adopt actually still has a living parent. Some are trafficked or sold by their own parents. A shortage of adoptable children in some countries fuels the practice, turning children into a commodity. African adoption is big business.

African countries have become more appealing to prospective parents since other countries, like China, have enacted restrictive laws that promote adoption within their own borders, reserving inter-country adoption as a last resort.

Is inter-country adoption always in the best interests of the children? Proponents say giving a child a stable, loving home in another country is better than leaving a child in an orphanage or residential home. That is undeniably true in some cases.

Opponents of inter-country adoption feel that children have a right to grow up in the culture in which they were born. More troubling, though, is the fact that some of the “orphans” aren’t really orphans at all.

In poverty-stricken areas, parents who cannot afford to feed and clothe their children have little choice but to leave their children in an orphanage. In doing so, they believe they will be reunited with their children when their circumstances improve. They have no intention of, nor are they informed that they are giving up their rights as parents.

On the flip side, adoptive parents usually are not given detailed information about the child’s background and have no idea their adoptive child has a living parent.

Child sponsorship charities work to improve the environment in which African children live so they can remain with their families and in their homeland. By working to promote access to healthcare, education, and nutrition, charities help strengthen communities and make them more self-sufficient.

Giving people the tools they need to take care of their own will help stem the tide of inter-country adoption of non-orphans. Perspective adoptive parents and opponents of inter-country adoption alike have the best interests of the children at heart – and that’s the first step toward a solution.

While debate rages on, child sponsorship charities continue their mission to better the lives of African children.