(Draft Version) Child Laundering and the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption: The Future and Past of Intercountry Adoption

David M. Smolin, Cumberland Law School, Samford University

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Draft version; Final version citation: 48 University of Louisville Law Review (forthcoming 2010).


The United States ratification of the 1993 Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption became effective April 1, 2008, amidst a context of declining numbers of intercountry adoptions and increasing media attention to corruption and child trafficking in the intercountry adoption system. There is a need to sort out the connections between these events, and chart a course for the future. This article includes an extensive discussion of the work of preparation of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. The article demonstrates that concerns with child trafficking in the intercountry adoption system were a central impetus to the creation of the Convention. The article also examines the demographics of adoption, particularly reviewing the tripling of interocuntry adoptions to the United States that occurred from 1993 to 2004, and the subsequent decline. The article seeks to establish whether the Hague Convention is connected to either the rise or subsequent decline of intercountry adoptions. Finally, the article looks to the future, and describes the kinds of reforms that would be necessary to make the intercountry adoption system meet the goals of the Hague Convention.

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