The home country of the child to be adopted must rely on the residence country of the adoptive parents to ensure that the prospective parents have the means and the will to provide a good home for the child. In almost all cases the originating country does not have the financial resources to conduct even a cursory background check of the parents-to-be, much less the legal authority to conduct a real investigation in a foreign country. This means that the originating country must rely on foreigners to ensure that it is not in effect selling their children into general slavery or the sex trade.
The same agency that vouches for the prospective parents has to be relied upon to verify the health and welfare of the adopted child after the adoption has been completed. Even if there was a good faith effort to vet the adoptive parents ahead of time, relying on the same agency to verify their evaluation post-adoption is an apparent conflict of interests at best. Even so, the country of origin has no option but to rely on the good faith efforts of the agency of the adoptive parents’ government to look after the welfare of the child. For child welfare agencies this is the fundamental problem of international adoption.
The prospective parents face the similar problems as they look for a child to adopt. They, and the authority in their country that is tasked with assisting them, have to rely on the government of country where they are seeking the adoption to adequately and properly represent their future child. First they must rely on that distant government to ensure that the child is actually in need of adoption, and had not taken from its family for economic or political reasons. While it is reasonable to expect that a poor country might assess fees and taxes to support the agency charged with the welfare of its children, the prospective parents have no way of knowing if those fees are actually going to that agency or rather into the pockets of the officials or even to a slave trader that provided the child to that agency.
Furthermore, the prospective parents have to rely on the originating country to provide full and factual information on the background and known medical history of the child. Relying on incomplete, inaccurate or misleading information may result in the adopting parents taking on more of a financial burden than they are prepared for. Even in cases where deliberate malfeasance does not come into play, under funded child welfare agencies in developing countries may not have the necessary resources to provide adequate factual information about a child’s medical condition. For prospective parents this is the basic problem of international adoption.
Until such time as there is an international agency with appropriate enforcement power on both sides of the international adoption issue, this underlying uncertainty will continue to be the main problem of international adoption.