Saturday, November 29, 2008

On the foolishness of adoption laws

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Belgian baby bought over the Internet for adoption by a Dutch couple must be placed in the temporary care of the Dutch authorities, a court ruled on Thursday.
According to media reports, the couple bought the boy in July from a Belgian couple in Ghent. One TV report said between 5,000 and 10,000 euros ($6,450 to $12,900) was paid. The Dutch couple denies buying the baby, saying on Dutch TV that they only paid the pregnancy costs incurred by the parents. The court in the Dutch city of Zwolle said the couple had broken the laws for adopting foreign children, and had to hand the baby over to child welfare authorities. The Council for the Protection of Children, part of the Netherlands' Justice Ministry, had asked the court to place the baby boy into temporary custody until a decision was made by the Belgian authorities on what to do with him. "Clarity over your family history is of fundamental importance for a child growing up. Obscuring your true identity is harmful," the council said in a statement. The public prosecution office in the Netherlands has started an investigation into the case, while Belgian authorities are also making inquiries, Dutch news agency ANP reported. (Reporting by Catherine Hornby and Aaron Gray-Block)


What really annoys me about this story (and the comments by readers below it), is this: why shouldn't the couple who 'bought' the baybe be allowed to keep it? To argue that they didn't follow proper procedures and broke the law begs the question: why are the laws there to begin with? 

Adoption laws create two classes of children: those whose parents need a license, and those whose parents do not need a lincense. If a person who by all objective standards is unfit to take care of a child wants to have children, all s/he has to do is have sex, wait nine months, and be done with it. S/he couldn't get a child through the adoption process, but it's no problem doing it the natural way. 

If this is really about child welfare, wouldn't it be more logical to have laws that require the same high standards of birth parents as of adoptive parents? The penalty for not meeting these standards and acquiring a child through illegal birthnonetheless would be the same as for acquiring a child through illegal adoption: the state takes the child away and gives it to people better fitted to have children.

Of course, in my opinion there is no question about the solution to this conundrum: there should be no adoption laws in the first place. If somebody wants to take care of a child, s/he can either do so by having sex and hope for the best, or acquire a child from somebody who has one but does not want to take care of it. 

In either case, the chances that the child is going to end up with good parents is pretty much the same. Arguably, the chances are better in the case of acquisition through non-sexual means. After all, it takes a bit more effort this way, and is probably more costly, too. 

One way or the other, the child would not be the property of the parents - natural or adopted. All a parent has is the righ/obligation to take care of the child s/he has acquired. In other words, one could not 'buy' a child, one could only buy the privilege of taking care of a human being. 

Anybody who believes there is a difference between acquiring a child through sexual means and non-sexual means is simply the victim of a primitive prejudice that assigns special legal status to biological accident. 

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