From Intercountry Adoption to Global Surrogacy : A Human Rights History and New Fertility Frontiers book cover
1st Edition

From Intercountry Adoption to Global Surrogacy
A Human Rights History and New Fertility Frontiers

ISBN 9781138242630
Published December 13, 2016 by Routledge
194 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Intercountry adoption has undergone a radical decline since 2004 when it reached a peak of approximately 45,000 children adopted globally. Its practice had been linked to conflict, poverty, gender inequality, and claims of human trafficking, ultimately leading to the establishment of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption (HCIA). This international private law along with the Convention on the Rights of the Child affirm the best interests of the child as paramount in making decisions on behalf of children and families with obligations specifically oriented to safeguards in adoption practices. In 2004, as intercountry adoption peaked and then began a dramatic decline, commercial global surrogacy contracts began to take off in India. Global surrogacy gained in popularity owing, in part, to improved assisted reproductive technology methods, the ease with which people can make global surrogacy arrangements, and same-sex couples seeking the option to have their own genetically-related children. Yet regulation remains an issue, so much so that the Hague Conference on Private International Law has undertaken research and assessed the many dilemmas as an expert group considers drafting a new law, with some similarities to the HCIA and a strong emphasis on parentage. This ground-breaking book presents a detailed history and applies policy and human rights issues with an emphasis on the best interests of the child within intercountry adoption and the new conceptions of protection necessary in global surrogacy. To meet this end, voices of surrogate mothers in the US and India ground discourse as authors consider the human rights concerns and policy implications. For both intercountry adoption and global surrogacy, the complexity of the social context anchors the discourse inclusive of the intersections of poverty and privilege. This examination of the inevitable problems is presented at a time in which the pathways to global surrogacy appear to be shifting as the Supreme Court of India weighs in on the future of the industry there while Thailand, Cambodia and other countries have banned the practice all together. There is speculation that countries in Africa and possibly Central America appear poised to pick up the multi-million dollar industry as the demand for healthy infants continues on.

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables

Notes on the Authors


1. Rescue, Refugees, Orphans and Rescue

2. The Politics of Adoption From Romania to Russia and What we Know About Children Languishing in Residential Care Facilities

3. Poverty, Birth Families, Legal and Social Protections

4. Guatemala: Violence Against Women and Force, Fraud, and Coercion, Including Child Abduction Into Adoption and A New System Emerging

5. Child Protection Systems of Care to Ensure Child Rights in Family Support and Adoption: India and the United States

6. "Sins of the Saviors": Africa as the Final Frontier

7. From Intercountry Adoption to Commercial Global Surrogacy

8. Voices of U.S. Surrogates: A Content Analysis of Blogs by U.S. Gestational Surrogates

9. Perspectives of Indian Women Who Have Completed a Global Surrogacy Contract

with coauthor Lopamudra Goswami

10. The Future of Intercountry Adoption, Global Surrogacy, and New Frontiers

Author Index

Subject Index

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Karen Smith Rotabi is Associate Professor of Social Work at the United Arab Emirates University. Her work combines historical, sociological, and ethical dimensions in a policy analysis framework, especially considering the human rights of vulnerable populations. She has published extensively on intercountry adoption and relevant laws, particularly focused on the USA and its powerful interface with impoverished countries such as Guatemala where she has worked in a variety of initiatives to include rural health promotion programming for children. Her research agenda is focused on global social work practice, child protection, and family support, to include families impacted by war. She has consulted on child-protection initiatives in a number of countries including Belize, India, and Malawi and co-edited the 2012 book Intercountry Adoption: Policies, Practices, and Outcomes, which was awarded a Choice Outstanding Academic Title in 2013. Rotabi was involved in the early stages of USA implementation of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption as she assisted in the accreditation process from 2008-2012, evaluating dozens of US-based adoption agencies to ensure that they were effectively practicing within international standards. More recently, she has turned her attention to commercial global surrogacy as a replacement for intercountry adoption. Today, Rotabi’s service work in this area includes joining an expert group on child rights and global surrogacy, convening under the leadership of International Social Services in Geneva, Switzerland.

Nicole F. Bromfield is Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston. Her research interests are on women and children’s health and social wellbeing, with most projects being driven by community needs with the desired outcome being social policy change. She has a PhD in public policy with a specialization in social and health policy and holds an MSW with a community organization concentration. Bromfield’s dissertation research was on the development of federal human-trafficking legislation in the USA, where she interviewed over 20 key policy players involved in its making. She has published on issues relating to human trafficking and has more recently taken an interest in global surrogacy arrangements, as well as social issues occurring in the Arabian Gulf nations.


'Rotabi and Bromfield deliver a much needed book, compelling, hard to put down and hard to ignore. The chronicling of intercountry adoptions - in the North and South Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania - and the beginnings of the surrogacy boom brings together the leading research of our time. Hard facts are not compromised by sentimentality and important questions are posed. A human rights and global perspective tells a story that is complex and multifaceted. Rotabi and Bromfield are not ideologically driven. They are genuine in encapsulating the research and respectful of all perspectives. There is much that is new in this book, particularly the story of Guatemalan adoptions. The lived experiences of those families whose human rights were trampled upon are vivid and the cases of child stealing, abduction, fraud and trafficking are chilling and frightening. Everyone involved in intercountry adoptions and surrogacy should read this book of only to prepare for the questions from the children at the heart of these practices when they inevitably discover the debates about their lives and families. This book is long overdue and should be on every book shelf.' - Patricia Fronek, Griffith University, Australia

'Rotabi and Bromfield introduce readers not only to the history and politics of inter-country adoption but also its parallels with the controversial inter-country gestational surrogacy industry. This book makes a refreshingly clear, meticulous and important contribution to critical analyses of the politics of intercountry adoption and the booming fertility industry.' - Amrita Pande, University of Cape Town, South Africa