Approximately four-hundred-thousand children worldwide have been adopted internationally since the mid 1950s. What began as a humanitarian response to orphaned and abandoned children has become an accepted global institution as defined by The Hague Conventionon Intercountry Adoption.
In the past five decades the social practice of intercountry adoption has evolved dramatically. In 1956, when the modern era of intercountry adoption began, children from Korea were adopted to families in the U.S. who were encouraged to "Americanize" their children as soon as possible. "Fitting in" and becoming acclimated to their adopted nationality was considered the priority. Issues of race, culture and identity were not even a consideration in preparing a family to parent a child of another race and ethnicity.
What we know today is that issues of race, identity, culture and heritage are significant. As families go through the adoption study and are preparing to adopt a child internationally, these issues cannot be an afterthought--or something to present lightly--they are critical to adequately prepare families for the life-long experience of adoption.
There have been positive advancements in intercountry adoption practices, but it still falls short of what is needed to adequately meet the predictable developmental and social challenges that international adoptees may encounter throughout their life. For international adoptees to be prepared to face the challenges, to be confident of who they are, and to understand the balance of their place in the world—the families who adopt them must acknowledge and understand these issues. It is essential that the professional adoption community, policy makers and advocates understand and embrace the lessons learned by international adult adoptees.
Three generations of internationally adopted children are now adults.
Acknowledging the collective wisdom of the international adult adoptee community to the field of adoption, Holt International and Adoptees for Children (A4C) believe the time has come for an
International Forum: "Intercountry Adoption ~ Moving Forward From A Fifty-Five-Year Perspective."
The lessons learned through the life experiences of three generations of international adoptees provide important insights that are both individual and collective. The International Forum will deliberately focus on adoption issues from the adoptee perspective and bring together non-traditional partners to collaborate more effectively on behalf of children—to share ideas and strengthen the collective intercountry adoption community.
This unprecedented examination of adoption through the lens of internationally adopted adults will provide opportunities to respond to and learn from them. The International Forum will inform policy makers and improve and enhance how the professional adoption community designs systems and provides services to educate and prepare adoptive families to successfully parent.