Category Archives: Interviews

Interviews with leading scholars in the Human Rights Community

Elizabeth Bartholet

Elizabeth Bartholet Interview, Part II

The Harvard Human Rights Journal is proud to feature its interview with Elizabeth Bartholet, the Morris Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Child Advocacy Program (CAP) at Harvard Law School. In this two-part interview, Professor Bartholet discusses the challenges facing international adoption. In this second section, Professor Bartholet discusses the powers exerting pressure on international adoption and legislative reform.

Interviewer: Julia Mas-Guindal*

* V.R. 2012 Harvard Law School. Lecturer of Law, Suffolk University College of Law. Research Assistant/Temporary employee at Harvard University. Corporate lawyer. Ph.D. candidate Complutense University in Madrid. B.A. Law & Business/LL.B 2009 Complutense University in Madrid. Master’s in Business Development 2008 ESCP-EAP (Paris).

Getting back to the second power, to the influence of the sending countries. [As stated] in your paper, International Adoption: The Human Rights Position, “the expenses of international adoption are paid by adoptive parents.” So it’s not costly, either for the sending or receiving country. But the thing is, in a world in which everything is about the money, my question is why did some of these countries adopt policies and restrictions on adoption, because, in a way from a financial view, they are getting funding?

Yes, it’s an important question. I do think these policies are seriously irrational from the point of view of these poor countries, but countries make all sorts of irrational decisions. They go to war, and there are different pressures that compel them for different reasons. I like to think that long-term, the rationality that underlies adoption might prevail, and I think at certain points in history for certain countries it does. They realize this is a good solution for the kids and that it’s a good solution for other people in the country too and for the government and that they are being relieved of kids that are just a burden on the country. So people like to talk about these in-country kids as “precious resources,” but in poor countries poor kids growing up institutions are not likely to do well or to prove a benefit to the country. I think these countries are just ignoring that economic rationality because of all these other political pressures swirling around.

You can see, for example, how this played out in South Korea. South Korea, I think for a while acted eminently rationally and had a really terrific international adoption system, and people in Korea didn’t want to adopt either because the kids were mixed-race kids or because of the blood bias in the culture. And so on a regular basis they facilitated international adoption. But at the time of the 1988 Olympics, some forces within the country opposed to the government criticized the government for such adoption, equating it as selling Korea’s children. And so, the South Korean government had two pressures. They had the economic pressure of kids in institutions, so why not let people adopt them, but then they had this other pressure – do they want to stay in office, here are these other people saying that our leaders are selling our children. So I think there are a lot of pressures swirling about other than the pure economic.

Another of the main problems facing international adoption that you pointed out earlier is that often sending countries are corrupted. So, for example, in a country with much corruption, like Guatemala or Colombia, it is not surprising to find public servants breaking the law and making a business of this, because they treat children like another commodity to trade with. My question is how can receiving and sending countries struggle against this corruption and how efficient is the prosecution of these people breaking the law?

Corruption is a problem. I think one of the issues is – and I just read an interesting article which correlated the level of corruption with the level of poverty – poor countries tend to be more corrupt, according to at least some people who study these things. And corruption does get focused on as a reason to shut down international adoption. I think my first response would be a little indirect, which is that just in the face of corruption we should not shut down international adoption. I think that’s the wrong solution. And of course it’s the popular solution because organizations like UNICEF don’t like international adoption anyway, and they don’t want to admit that, so for them corruption is the perfect excuse. It’s like, “Oh, we can just say we don’t like corruption, then we shut down international adoption until we solve corruption.” Well it’s hard to solve corruption. There is corruption in poor countries. And I think the hypocrisy here is that there is corruption in poor countries but there’s also corruption in rich countries – just maybe not as much of it.

But when there is corruption, it’s very rare that the response to it is to shut down the system altogether. We have corrupt people on Wall Street in this country and we don’t shut down the stock market. We don’t shut down the banks, forever at least. We might shut down one or two banks, but we don’t shut down all the banks. It’s only, I think, in international adoption that the response is “let’s shut it down.” Well because it’s very convenient, if you don’t like international adoption then that is a convenient response. I think the response to corruption instead has to be to focus more narrowly on ending corruption by punishing the people who deserve punishment, those who are violating the law. Now, that may not entirely stop corruption, since it’s hard to stop all corruption, and I think then one has to say, all right, corruption is bad, some level of illegality is bad, but how bad is it compared to the bad that flows from shutting down international adoption?

I think that is pretty easy to say that corruption is the lesser evil if you look at Guatemala for example, where there used to be almost 5000 kids per year getting homes early in life through international adoption, not suffering significant damage because they’re getting released at four months, six months, eight months from institutions. And often they had been in foster care and therefore suffered even less damage. So now with the shut down of international adoption because of corruption, 5000 kids a year are now not getting homes, and instead are living, or dying, in institutions or on the street. Basically [these kids are] getting systematically destroyed. [There are] huge violations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child every day in the conditions in institutions and on the streets that nobody is worrying about at all. So those are going on for all those kids on a daily basis. Of course some children are being saved from their mothers getting a thousand dollars in connection with their adoption.  But how evil is that kind of corruption and illegality compared to the evil of the 5000 kids having their lives destroyed?  I think there is just enormous hypocrisy among U.S. officials, among Guatemalan and other sending countries’ officials, and among the UNICEFs of the world in terms of refusing to look at the balance of benefits and costs. All they want to look at is “do we think corruption is bad?” Do we think baby buying is bad?”  Of course these things are bad, but it is also terribly wrong to deny infants and children what they most need in life – the chance for parenting.

We should respond to corruption in international adoption the way we respond to corruption in other areas, which is by focusing on the corruption and how to stop it by finding and punishing the people who break the laws, rather than by stopping the underlying institution from accomplishing all its legitimate goals.  It seems to me the US could do a lot to offer resources to countries like Guatemala to try to help them identify and prosecute the people who are breaking the law. Money would help, and maybe advice, and services in terms of that kind of prosecution would help. I think it could be done; but, there is no magic solution, and I think the most important thing is that policymakers keep in mind the overall [balance of] costs and benefits if they actually care about children.

So the problem again is that the focus is not on the children?

It’s not on the children, even though “the best interests of the child” is what everyone is always mouthing in this area.

In a regular adoption process, what you have are people who want to adopt children. And then, you have these private intermediaries who want to get paid. We would like to know, who are these intermediaries and if you think that all of these are necessary for the completion of an adoption, and maybe these intermediaries make too much money with these arrangements?

I would like it if international adoption was less expensive because then more people could do it, and more kids could get homes. So yes, I think the intermediaries are overpaid in that sense, but I totally believe that we need private intermediaries and I think that it’s a very bad reform direction when people say that we need to eliminate private intermediaries as a way of eliminating corruption. The problem is that effectively puts everything in the hands of bureaucrats. Now, what [solution] is that if bureaucrats are just as susceptible to corruption – usually the word corruption is associated with bureaucrats, not with private people. There is no way you’re going to eliminate, or no reason to think you’re going to be successful in eliminating baby buying or kidnapping by simply eliminating private intermediaries. You can regulate private intermediaries, and make it so that they will go to jail if they violate the law, and that’s what we do in this country.  We have lots of private intermediaries that arrange adoption. The reason we want to keep private intermediaries, and you want to keep, if you will, business in this area, is that these are the people who see themselves as having an interest, even if it’s largely a financial interest, in putting kids who need homes together with parents who want to give those homes. That self-interest is healthy, because they are serving the interest of the kids as well as the prospective parents.

When you put it all in the hands of bureaucrats, (1) you still have the corruption risk, and (2) governments and government bureaucrats often see their goal as to avoid risk, and you take risks if you take action, and it’s always the government that seems to see the symbolic value of holding onto kids, keeping kids in their ethnic groups, and all that kind of thing. Whether within this country or in other countries the barriers to adoption usually come from the government and it has been the government, not individual birthparents, who have thought black kids belong with black parents. It was never the black birth mothers in this country who thought that, it was the government who didn’t want to place those kids across racial lines. For the most part, birth mothers who can’t raise their kids want them to get a home and they are going to make that deal if they have a chance to. So when the government gets in the middle, it’s the government that ends up for whatever crazy reasons often feeling motivated to hold on to kids and deny them homes.

Do you think that international adoption is a business today? Or that there is a possibility that this will become a business?

Well, I just don’t think that [business] should be used as an evil word. I think we need private intermediaries to make adoption happen. And, if you look at the world of, for example childbirth, everybody thinks childbirth is wonderful. Well, it’s a business – hospitals and doctors get paid and nobody says, “Oh my God we have to eliminate business, let’s make it so that the government bureaucrats do childbirth or do other things that we think are good and wonderful things.” Adoption is a good and wonderful thing. Why does it make it evil that lawyers might get paid to finalize the surrender of parental rights or the adoption in court? It’s to me no different than lawyers getting paid to draw up the sale of a house or marriage documents, and doctors facilitating heart operations or childbirth.

What do you think is the biggest legislative reform to foster and promote adoption today?

Let’s just say there isn’t hardly anything that fits that category. First imagining the Hague Convention on International Adoption, it was thought for a period that the goal was to coordinate and facilitate adoptions between countries. But it turned into something very different. Again, because the forces hostile to international adoption got involved and started saying that “facilitate” was just a dirty word and we couldn’t even think of that, we had to think of it as a new way to place restrictions against bad things happening. So that is what The Hague became. The Hague, as it turns out, isn’t in itself a terrible document, and it’s in my view a small step but a significant step forward from the Convention on the Rights of the Child in principle, because it seems to make clear that international adoption should be seen as a better option than in-country foster care for children. So that’s a good thing, but it’s being used by organizations like UNICEF, and even by the US government, to shut down lots of countries. So it’s turned out to be, so far, a net negative force for international adoption. And there’s just nothing very good, sadly, that one could give as an answer to your question.

I would like to know – what would be the key points of international adoption law reform?

Well that’s an excellent question, and I have thought about that some. I think that the starting point of international adoption law reform should be thinking “How can we better serve children?” Millions of children who need homes – if we had a law that truly took their needs seriously, what would it say? I think it would say we have to organize things to facilitate as many of those children as possible getting homes as early as possible without violating birthparents’ rights. That, for me, would mean for example, that we should have what largely doesn’t exist in the world: a law that would say, look at and identify the children who are in institutions and on the streets who don’t have parents in any meaningful sense. And if they don’t have parents that either are nurturing parents now or could be very soon, free those children up for adoption and focus on trying to find homes for them. So that doesn’t exist.

Within this country, we have something of a model in the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, which says that if children have been in foster care for 15 months, the state must move to get them out of foster care. They either must go back to the family of origin or they must move on to adoption if they shouldn’t go back to the family of origin. There’s nothing like that in the rest of the world. And in most institutions, including one that one of my children was in as a baby, in that institution I looked at the other kids there ranging from 0 to 5 years old and said “Oh, what about all these kids?” “And are any of them also available for adoption?” And I was told, “No, none of them are available, they all have parents.” They don’t see the parents – maybe sometimes one of the parents might come once a year. But nobody is freeing those kids up for adoption. For the most part there is absolutely no system to free the kids up. And if you say there should be such a system, UNICEF and other such organizations and people are outraged – that would be a violation of parental rights.

So their idea of parental rights is that even if parents can’t raise the kids it doesn’t matter, in an ideal world we should be making it so that parents can afford to raise their children. And in the meantime, when that won’t happen, the kids should sit and rot. That’s their idea of human rights.

Well my idea of human rights is that kids should have them also. And anybody who thought that kid rights were even vaguely equivalent to adult rights would say “Of course if the parents can’t raise the child in the pretty immediate future you should free that child so it can find some other parent.” So I think we need that law; we need a law that would say to bureaucrats “You are at risk if you don’t place children.” Right now bureaucrats are at risk if they do place children because it might violate parent rights. They should be at risk if they hold children too long, if they deny the child’s basic human right to a home. Translating that general idea of the law to specifics would take some time. But that needs to be the starting point. We could do it – it’s not that it’s hard to think what the law would look like in the specifics; it’s that the starting point has to be 100% different from where it is now.

This concludes the Journal’s conversation with Professor Elizabeth Bartholet. Part I of the interview is available HERE.

Elizabeth Bartholet

Elizabeth Bartholet Interview, Part I

The Harvard Human Rights Journal is proud to feature its interview with Elizabeth Bartholet, the Morris Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Child Advocacy Program (CAP) at Harvard Law School. In this two-part interview, Professor Bartholet discusses the challenges facing international adoption. In this first section, Professor Bartholet discusses the ideal standards for caring for the world’s children, and the powers exerting pressure on international adoption.

Interviewer: Julia Mas-Guindal*

* V.R. 2012 Harvard Law School. Lecturer of Law, Suffolk University College of Law. Research Assistant/Temporary employee at Harvard University. Corporate lawyer. Ph.D. candidate Complutense University in Madrid. B.A. Law & Business/LL.B 2009 Complutense University in Madrid. Master’s in Business Development 2008 ESCP-EAP (Paris).

The first question I would like to ask you is about your vocation. Why did you decide to devote your professional life to research and advocate for children’s welfare and international adoption?

Since I went to law school I’ve always been interested in using my career to promote social change and social reform; that’s why I went to law school.  Initially I focused on more traditional civil rights issues, [such as] race relations in this country and various discrimination issues particularly in the context of employment, and my real focus on children and youth and adoption came because 27 years ago I adopted a child internationally. And that’s what led to my specific interest in this area.  Once I got interested in the area I felt immediately that there was an enormous need for change in the policies because they seemed to me to make – the policies surrounding adoption and international adoption, in particular – no sense from the point of view of children.

To begin with, what do you think the standard should be for allowing international adoption?

Well I think the starting point ought to be children and their needs for a home, and if there are as there are today lots of children, millions and millions worldwide who need homes, I think the priority ought to be figuring out how to provide those homes.  International adoption is one of the best ways to provide them, in part because there is a lot of discrepancy between poor countries and rich countries.  There are richer and poorer countries in this world and in the poorer countries you tend to have lots of children who need homes, and relatively few adults who can provide them. That’s the very basic reason that international adoption from my point of view makes a lot of sense for children.

And then, given that kids need homes, adoption turns out to be a very successful institution for providing good homes for children.  If you look at the social science on adoption, whether it’s same-race or transracial, whether it’s domestic adoption or international adoption, all the studies show adoption working really really well for children.  It works best, or the children do best, when the kids are placed very young. If you look at studies of kids who are placed older, of course many of those kids are going to be troubled, but it’s not because adoption doesn’t work well, it’s because it took so long before the kids were placed in adoption that they suffered lots of damage. So adoption works really well.

Why does it work well? I think it’s pretty clear that motivation is what makes for good parents. And what you have in adoption is people who have chosen to be parents. They haven’t fallen into it by mistake, they deliberately sought it out, virtually all of them are seeking it out for good reasons, not for bad reasons, and that means they are highly motivated. I don’t think the kind of screening that goes into deciding which parents get approved does any particular good. I think it is the self-selection that has to do with people wanting to be parents.

In terms of your question, I think the standards, given the need that kids have for homes, ought to be ones that facilitate placing as many kids as possible as early in life as possible in homes. Therefore, we should have standards that allow adoption. Don’t make it too difficult; don’t make it too expensive. And standards that focus on making sure that kids get homes early, that they get freed up for adoption early – now that’s the complete opposite of current international adoption standards. Virtually all the laws and policies surrounding international adoption focus on the bad things that might happen in connection with adoption, and virtually none focus on the good things, and also, current standards never focus on the bad things that happen to kids when they don’t get adopted. Kids sit and rot in institutions and there is no focus on that. We really need to flip the assumptions around and change the standards quite radically to make them standards that are really designed to serve children.

Wouldn’t you agree that some of the biggest problems in international adoption are the legal restrictions that limit the ability to provide homes to children in need, and who is to blame for that?

I completely agree that the major problem with international adoption regulations today is that it’s almost entirely focused on restricting this institution, and making it difficult. The claim is that it’s all in the best interest of the child, but that is not true in my view because what it does is make it hard for kids to get what they most need in life, which are homes. The blame, sadly and ironically, is really to be put primarily on the organizations that call themselves the friends of children. It is organizations that have names indicating that they are the human rights/children’s rights organizations.  UNICEF is at the top of my enemies list, [along with] Save the Children, and there are other names like that out there, of organizations that quite adamantly oppose international adoption. They tend to claim that they don’t entirely oppose it.

UNICEF, which is very political and tries to be careful about its reputation, likes to say that it is not entirely opposed to international adoption. It quite clearly limits international adoption, even in its official policies, to a last resort option. So they clearly take the position that in-country foster care should be preferred over out-of-country adoption. I think their actual on-the-ground policies – and I think most people who know what’s going on with international adoption would agree with this – are much more adamantly anti-international adoption than they admit. For example, they say that they don’t think children should be held in institutions, but the net of their policies, I believe, ends up relegating millions of children to spend their growing up years in institutions.

Why is that? It is because UNICEF will say the better options are in-country adoption and foster care. Well, in poor countries, for the most part, in-country adoption is not happening and there are a lot of reasons for that: partly the relative poverty of the country, partly that the children available for adoption tend to be the children of the underclass, which is often a racial minority group and the rich people in those countries often have no interest whatsoever in parenting [those] children. Often there is a strong bias, [such as] in Africa and Asia, against adoption anyway. They are very heavily into the idea of bloodlines in terms of family. So it’s unlikely that, in any near future, there will be many adopted homes in these countries. They can promote the idea that that’s better for children all they want. If they know that it’s not going to happen for children, the net is that children will end up in institutions.

Now they also promote the idea that poor people shouldn’t have to give up their kids; I agree with that. But it’s also true that we are not going to solve world poverty overnight, and that many poor people aren’t going to be able to take care of their kids. Reunification – which sounds good to everybody, let’s put kids back with their parents, they only gave them up because they were poor – that may sound good. [But] it isn’t necessarily good for kids to go find desperately poor people who might have given up their kids five years ago, who may have several other kids, who are struggling to survive, so you can say to those people “here’s your kid back.” Well they gave up the child for a reason. You can say to those people we will give you money to take your kid back, but it doesn’t mean that the child will live well. The child may be sold; the child may become effectively an indentured servant. It is easy to say that we should feel sorry for those poor parents, they shouldn’t have had to give up their kids, but putting kids back in those families is not necessarily a good solution for anybody.

Certainly, [I would like us to] solve world poverty so that poor people didn’t have to give birth having to give up their kids.  But it’s not going to happen right away. And I don’t think that locking poor kids in institutions, and insisting that they grow up in institutions is going to in any way further the goal of eliminating world poverty. It’s just a symbolic gesture, easy to make because the kids can’t do anything about it. I think it’s outrageous that UNICEF and other organizations promote foster care. I mean, again, in the first place it doesn’t exist; it won’t be created overnight. But second, and even more important, there is no reason to believe that foster care in poor countries is going to work better than foster care in the United States. In the United States, we have roughly half a million kids in foster care and everybody in child welfare wants to get most kids out of foster care. They don’t think it’s a good solution. Kids in foster care typically bounce around from one foster family to another. Foster care is paid parenting. It may be better than paying staff in an institution to take care of kids but you are paying people to be parents, and most people on a commonsense basis – and if you look at the social science, it also supports this – believe that kids are better off with parents who are parenting because they want to be parents, not because they’re getting a wage to do it. Think of the risks that would be involved, in creating paid parenting foster care in poor countries, desperately poor countries where people are starving – of course if we say “we will pay you a stipend to parent,” people are going to come forward and agree to do it. And there is even more risk than there is in this country that they won’t be doing it for the right motives.

And the studies all show, that if you compare how kids do in foster care to how they do in adoption, they do better in adoption. So there’s no excuse in my view for UNICEF to be taking this position. Now they claim that foster care will be different, it will be permanent foster care in these poor countries, but they don’t come up with any reason to make anyone else believe that it’s going to be a sort of magically better form of foster care than what we have in this country.

And I think that there is no good reason for the world to look at international adoption as if it is a suspect institution. The only reason is [the] very retrograde view that children are essentially who they were born in race and geographic terms. The view that if they were born with brown skin then they are inherently brown skinned people who can only live, and should only live, with other brown skinned people. Or, if you happened to be born on this side of the border rather than the other side, you are inherently this kind of person. Well, to me it is even crazier to think that national lines have that kind of power to determine who human beings are intrinsically as compared to color lines. I don’t think either makes much sense, but national lines were mostly drawn on the most arbitrary of bases. You get civil war, and then people sit at a table and they have to decide how to carve up the map this time.

I think the only reason national lines have power is that there are sovereign nations, and sometimes sovereign nations want to hold on to their children put them in armies, [to] make their sovereign nation stronger. And I think that organizations like UNICEF that were founded in the wake of World War II were founded through negotiations by sovereign powers. It’s somewhat understandable as a matter of history why an organization like UNICEF would see itself as responsive to what it might think are nation states’ sovereign claims on their children. What is interesting here [is that] I think the major pressure for kids to stay where they are born is coming more from UNICEF, and the international NGOs like UNICEF, than it is from the sovereign powers. But UNICEF and other such organizations do sometimes appeal to sovereign pride and they do tell these sovereign nations that they can and should hold onto their children. Should as a matter of children’s human rights; can as a matter of sovereign power. I think that they encourage this attitude of governments feeling that they have an ownership right in their children and that it’s a matter of pride to assert that ownership right. UNICEF makes a country like Brazil, or Peru, or an African nation feel like they ought to hold on to their children because this is what the Convention on the Rights of the Child requires.

I also think some of the pressure to keep children in their country of origin comes from governments of various poor countries in the world at different points in time. So I’m not saying none of it comes from there. I think that there are basically three major problems in terms of the pressures that create negativity surrounding international adoption. One is UNICEF and other such international NGOs. And a second is the sovereign governments of various poor nations of the world. The third is the governments of various more privileged nations of the world. In terms of the second, I think that for poor countries governments often need to appeal to their own people to stay in power, they need to say they’re doing a good job, and one of the easy ways to make this claim is to say they are taking care of our children. “Look – we just shut down international adoption.”

So you see that at play with, for example, Haiti, when the government was in massive disarray and appeared to be doing not much of anything and appeared to be really helpless. Then came those church workers and did something that violated laws, and that’s bad, and were taking children out of the country – although I don’t think there was any evidence they were stealing them from parents or even deceiving parents. But they were getting them out of the earthquake zone, temporarily probably, and violated some paperwork laws. And what did the government do? Well, they shut it down. And I remember seeing I think the second-in-charge of the government proudly proclaiming on television, to an international audience, that we’ve shut down international adoption; we are protecting our children. Well they weren’t doing anything else to show they were in charge of Haiti, but they could do this, and maybe they felt it made them look good.

[Another example is] Russia, when the one child was put on the plane and sent back. I can remember a handful of other incidents where a Russian child was abused by an adoptive parent. Abuse of any kind, or the form of abandonment represented by putting the child on the plane, is extremely rare in international adoption – much rarer than it is in biological families in Russia or the United States. Much rarer. But when it happens, the Russian government as a matter of pride, as a matter of, I think, thinking it looks good to its own people and maybe abroad, can say things like, “Those terrible Americans, we can take better care of our children, we should not let them have our children in international adoption.”

Or take China, which is sort of in a moment in its history in the last few years where it wants to be and is a world power. It feels embarrassed about, probably, its one child policy which is part of why so many of its baby girls are in institutions. International adoption is embarrassing, so I think that’s probably why China several years ago imposed stricter regulations that said “Oh these people who are single or obese or otherwise less in our view than ideal can’t adopt.” “We are a strong nation and we can take care of our own children.” It doesn’t mean they can, or do, or that there aren’t lots of baby girls languishing in their institutions. It’s a statement about national pride.

And in my view, part of why that statement gets made in the context of international adoption as often it does, is that it’s an easy national pride statement. So it’s hard for poor nations to stand up to the United States if it involves oil or other things rich countries want, but if it’s poor children in institutions, the United States is not going to go to war or even put any pressure on a poor country. “If they really want to hold onto their poor children, we don’t really want these children.” There are some parents who want them, but the United States government is not going to fight for them in any way. If a poor country says, “Stop! We will take care of our own children,” it’s an easy [statement] to make and the government leaders feel it makes them look good in the world and to their own people.

[Now] to get to the third power that causes negativity, governments like the United States. We have over our history done a lot to keep immigrants out, and adopted kids are baby immigrants and there was a period they couldn’t come in at all. Then we amended the laws and let some of them in but it’s never been a complete-easy-open-arms thing. We do let some of them in, but if a country says they don’t want us to take their kids, or if we the U.S. feel there are some ethical corruption issues we could be accused of – [such as] allowing our parents to buy kids, or to kidnap them – it’s easy for the United States to shut down adoption in that situation because it might make us look bad as a country and it’s not doing us any good. I think that’s why we typically give in immediately if any country says they don’t want to send us their kids, and why we often put pressure on countries to shut down [international adoption] entirely if we think that there is evidence of corruption and illegalities that will make us look bad.

The Journal continues its conversation with Professor Elizabeth Bartholet in Part II of the interview, available HERE.