Intercountry Adoption: Control and Denial

In this publication, we would like to draw your attention to the advice of de Raad van Strafrechtstoepassing en Jeugdbescherming (English translation: Council for Application of Criminal Justice and Youth Protection) from 2016. Unfortunately, the minister has set aside this advice. However, during the general consultation of 24 January 2019, the parliamentarians present still asked questions about the report to the minister. It is believed that a number of questions that were asked have not been adequately answered, and significant concerns have been expressed about the conclusions of the report. UAI fully supports the RSJ report.

We are pleased to explain the essential elements of the 98-page report “Reflection on International Adoption”.

Raad voor Strafrechtstoepassing en Jeugdbescherming (RSJ)

The Minister of Security and Justice has asked the RSJ to advise on a number of possible future scenarios for the intercountry adoption system. Andersson Elffers Felix (AEF) has been commissioned to develop these future scenarios. These four scenarios are based on the current intercountry adoption system and relate to its management and control.


Four scenarios are presented in the AEF report.

  • Scenario 1: “Optimize current model” This scenario remains as close as possible to the current situation. The current parties will continue to exist, and all roles will remain intact. The core of this scenario is behavioural change at the various players’ own initiative.
  • Scenario 2: “Government controls the system” The system is not fundamentally reformed. The current parties continue to exist, and they bear the same responsibilities. The interpretation of the responsibilities does change in this scenario. The government sets more frameworks but also distances itself more from implementation.
  • Scenario 3: “Fewer players” In this scenario, there will be fewer license holders (via, for example, the minimum number of matches) and the supervision will be bundled by the government.
  • Scenario 4: “A public service” In this scenario, intercountry adoption becomes a public matter: the entire chain is managed by the government.

Conclusion scenarios

The RSJ concludes that all four scenarios do not sufficiently improve the identified bottlenecks. The different bottlenecks cannot be resolved because they are of such a nature that they cannot be resolved by a different organization or be controlled by the intercountry adoption system. The RSJ advises not to choose one of the four scenarios presented by AEF and advises the minister on a fifth scenario “Family in the country of origin” because the RSJ believes that intercountry adoption is not the best way to protect these children.


  • The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Hague Convention state that the rights and interests of a child are best protected by taking care of the child in a family in their own country. It requires a youth protection system in the country of origin to be able to find alternatives to intercountry adoption. Often that system is weak.
  • Research also shows that intercountry adoption has a negative effect on the structure of the youth protection system in the country of origin. Unintentionally, intercountry adoption ensures that children receive less well established, local youth protection than would be possible without intercountry adoption.
  • Financial interests are also at stake in intercountry adoption. These entail risks of illegal and undesirable practices.
  • These risks increase the need for supervision. However, supervision of the adoption process and control of the Hague Convention is minimal.
  • There are specific bottlenecks in a number of countries (China, the US and EU countries).
  • There is a lot of criticism about the quality of the adoption process.
  • The well-being of adopted children can suffer from unsafe attachment.

In addition to advice on the fundamental question about international adoption and advice on the future scenarios presented by AEF, the RSJ makes the following recommendations.

Apart from the five scenarios discussed and the Minister’s choice for the future, the RSJ advises to immediately end cooperation with countries in which there are major-specific bottlenecks. This concerns China (supervision by CA and license holders not possible), the US (violates the intention of treaty provision with regard to the subsidiarity principle and the freely given permission) and EU countries of origin (subsidiarity principle).

The RSJ calls on the Minister to conduct the fundamental discussion about adoption with the House of Representatives and not just the debate about management models and implementation. With all the sensitivities that characterize the discussion about intercountry adoption, the RSJ emphasizes that this discussion must be based on arguments. This advice aims to contribute to this.

Intercountry adoption is a complex subject in which, in addition to the interests of the child, other interests also play a role, such as the interests of the prospective parents. The different interests make the subject politically complicated. The RSJ appeals to the Minister to put the interests of children abroad in need of protection first (even if, or precisely because they cannot make themselves heard). The RSJ hopes that the Minister is prepared in the short term to make a policy choice that better protects the rights of these children (from the CRC) and thus the protection of those children themselves.

The minister has decided to come up with a new framework by mid-2020 and not to follow the advice of the RSJ. We hereby make an urgent request to enter into the discussion based on content and to reconsider ignoring the RSJ advice.

Sources and letters:

Raad voor Strafrechtstoepassing en Jeugdbescherming (RSJ) “Bezinning op Interlandelijk Adoptie”

On 4 December 2017, through this letter, together with 23 organizations, the Vaste Kamercommissie Veiligheid en Justitie expressed our support for the report:

We have given a follow-up to the letter of 4 December 2017 on 11 December 2018:


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