More Children In Institutions

Psychologists from the University of Liverpool have demonstrated that the trend toward international adoption a la Madonna and Angelina Jolie has resulted in increasing numbers of children living in orphanages. A study performed by the Liverpool psychologists produced statistics showing that EU member countries with the largest numbers of institutionalized children had the greatest numbers of parents hopping onto the bandwagon of international adoption. Researchers had assumed that a high number of international adoptions would correlate to reduced numbers of institutionalized children, but the opposite was found to be true. The statistics showed that prospective adoptive parents in Spain and France would rather adopt healthy white children from other countries than adopt local ethnic minority children.

Madonna Effect

Popular singer Madonna adopted a boy from Zambia in 2006 which led to a trend in international adoption. Psychologists labeled this trend, the "Madonna Effect." The details of the adoption were given wide coverage by the media and the idea of international adoption became romanticized in the eyes of the public who then followed Madonna's lead. Meantime, orphans in local institutions became an unpopular adoptive option and their numbers grew.

Child psychologist, Professor Kevin Browne said, "Some argue that international adoption is, in part, a solution to the large number of children in institutional care, but we have found the opposite is true. Closely linked to the Madonna-effect, we found that parents in poor countries are now giving up their children in the belief that they will have a 'better life in the west' with a more wealthy family."

Browne also stated that celebrities continue to encourage international adoption though it is now known that as many as 96% of all orphans in European institutions turn out to have a living parent known to local adoption agencies. Because the laws aren't enforced, international adoption is quick and easy.  Governments and orphanages benefit from international adoption but many of them act in direct contravention of the UN's Convention of the Rights of the Child which allows international adoption only in the case where orphans fail to find placement in their countries of birth.

Careful Monitoring

The Liverpool researchers have recommended that more careful monitoring of international adoption practices is necessary to ensure that the rights of orphaned children be protected. International adoption is meant to be an option for orphans for whom all other avenues for placement have been exhausted. In other words, international adoption policies must take the children into consideration over the desires of prospective parents from other countries.

This research study based its analysis on data from 33 European countries. The study took into account the numbers, background, and ethnicity of orphans residing in institutions for a period exceeding three months' time.