Although the African continent is considered to be the ‘new frontier’ for intercountry adoption, this phenomenon does not only affect children in Africa but also impacts on children in other parts of the world. In recent years, intercountry adoption has become the subject of public debate, leading to a division between those who support this form of adoption and those who view it with a jaundiced eye. The recent death of a Russian boy, adopted into a family in the USA caused thousands of people to come out in support of a ban on adoption of Russian children by American citizens. Equally topical are: the Haiti adoption scandal after the devastating earthquake in 2010, where many children were airlifted from their home country and adopted by foreigners without the required safeguards taken into consideration – also referred to as an ‘international adoption bonanza’ – and the controversial adoptions of children by celebrities such as Mia Farrow, Angelina Jolie and Madonna.

In this article the relevant international and regional instruments, as well as the current status of intercountry adoption is presented.

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