Abstract

The practice of international adoption of children is critiqued, using Rawls' egalitarian concept of a distributive method of social justice. From this perspective, international adoption may be perceived as contradictory to principles of social justice by ignoring the social context within which it occurs. Social contexts that frequently surround international adoption are severe poverty and the disenfranchisement of the adopted child's biological family; the disenfranchisement of certain children because of their lower social status; gender oppression and discrimination against female children; risk to children's rights to the knowledge of their birth history and parentage; risk to children's rights to identification with their ethnic, cultural, and national group; and practices that may involve abduction, deceit, and trafficking in children. The article presents alternate views, including libertarian and utilitarian perspectives. Solutions from two international conventions are critiqued and implications are discussed for social work policy advocacy, practice, and research.

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