Adoption and alternative care

UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre (IRC) has a long history of conducting and supporting research on adoption and alternatives to institutionalisation. The approach to these has been informed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the 1993 Hague Convention on inter-country adoption. See, for example, the Innocenti Digest on Inter-country Adoption (1998) and the Innocenti Insight 'Children in Institutions: the Beginning of the End?' (2003).

As part of efforts ongoing for the protection of children deprived of their families, UNICEF IRC has engaged in research focusing on the child’s best interests principle in adoption, specifically in inter-country adoption. The best interests of the child represents a great challenge in terms of determination and implementation in adoption practice. The research will result in a study that aims to provide a global overview of how the principle is applied in the legislative and policy framework as well as in the different steps of the inter-country adoption procedure. The CRC and the 1993 Hague Convention on inter-country adoption constitute the framework of the study, which includes a literature review of research on adoption and good practices from different countries. The study is expected to make a significant contribution to discussions around inter-country adoption by summarising in one document how the best interests principle should be ensured across all steps of adoption procedures. The target audience includes policy makers, practitioners, researchers and child protection officers.

Development of the study has also been informed by the outcomes of a consultation, held at IRC in March 2009 with key experts from international and national arenas. The aim of the meeting was to bridge theory and practice on the best interests of the child as an individual with rights in the adoption procedure. Issues considered over the discussions included: the "personal" adoptability of the child; matching the child and new parents; the child in the preparation and eligibility of prospective adoptive parents; the child and adoptive parents meeting: preparation and mediation of the meeting; and post adoption support. These issues have subsequently been advanced in the study.

The study is generously supported by the Swiss National Committee for UNICEF.

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