We believe that each and every child should be loved from the start and welcomed to the world as a life innately precious, which must be protected from abuse and exploitation, adequately sheltered, fed and clothed, and provided with regular medical care; and generally within the context of a family, comforted, nurtured and educated, so as to grow into a secure, emotionally well-adjusted, intelligent, loving and compassionate human being.
A mixture of circumstances, especially poverty and disease, prevent many children from receiving the love and nurture from their biological parents which is their birthright and which they must have to develop as human beings. In these instances, if a suitable adoptive family cannot be found in the child’s nation state, we believe that the best interests of the child may then be better served by a foreign adoption. In such cases adoption facilitates the child’s birthright and that which s/he must have in order to develop fully. When carefully and painstakingly prepared and planned for by the adoptive applicant working together with the adoption service provider, legitimate adoption can be positive for all parties and, most important, in the best interests of the child.
We are aware that this ideal view of international adoption may at times be subverted. We understand the potential for fraudulent adoptions. If not carefully monitored and controlled, in the hands of unscrupulous individuals international adoption can involve a variety of criminal offences, including the buying, selling, and trafficking of children.
Far from discouraging us from finding permanent adoptive homes in New York for orphaned children from abroad, knowledge of this dark side of international adoption has strengthened our commitment to furnish our services as ethically and transparently as possible to the children and their adoptive families. In this commitment we are guided by the following three policies drafted by the Agency, incorporating specific language from the accreditation regulations:
ETHICAL PRACTICE POLICY. It is the express policy of Open Seas to provide adoption services ethically and in accordance with the Hague Convention’s principles of: (1) ensuring that intercountry adoptions take place in the best interests of children, and (2) preventing the abduction, exploitation, sale or trafficking of children. We hereby warrant that the Ethical Practice Policy shall inform every aspect of the Agency’s operation.
PROHIBITION ON CHILD BUYING POLICY. We strongly endorse Section 96.36 (“Prohibition on Child Buying”) of the Hague accreditation and approval standards. Open Seas expressly prohibits its employees and agents from giving money or other consideration, directly or indirectly, to a child’s parents, other individuals, or an entity as payment for the child or as an inducement to release the child. If permitted or required by the child’s country of origin, Open Seas may remit reasonable payments for activities related to the adoption proceedings, pre-birth and birth medical costs, the care of the child, the care of the birth mother while pregnant and immediately following birth of the child, or the provision of child welfare and child protection services generally. Permitted or required contributions shall not be remitted as payment for the child or as an inducement to release the child.
REINFORCEMENT THROUGH TRAINING OF THE PROHIBITION ON CHILD BUYING POLICY. It is the express policy of Open Seas that all of our employee training programs (and those for affiliates) and any manuals used in connection with the training of employees (and other affiliates) reiterate, reinforce and emphasize in the most urgent terms the prohibition on child buying. Additionally, every person affiliated with Open Seas in any capacity, be it an employee, volunteer, board member, consultant or any other agent, however characterized or described, is expected to be conversant with the requirements and procedures imposed by the Hague Convention, particularly as applies to the ethical practices and responsibilities of agencies and their employees engaged in the provision of adoption services consistent with the Convention.
The Agency also honors and adheres to the basic principles memorialized by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption together inform all actions taken by Open Seas on behalf of the children and their newly-adoptive families.