Alumna Invited to Speak at Pepperdine Conference on Intercountry Adoption


Melinda Mains, a 2012 cum laude IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law graduate, was invited to share her scholarship on intercountry adoption at Pepperdine University School of Law during a conference titled Intercountry Adoption: Orphan Rescue or Child Trafficking. Mains was the only presenter to provide in-depth scholarship on the practice of American children being adopted by foreign families.

Outgoing adoptions from the United States is a little known or studied aspect of intercountry adoptions. According to Mains’ research, before 2008 approximately 500 children were adopted from the United States each year by foreign families. After 2008, when the United States implemented the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, the number of outgoing adoptions fell dramatically to only 25. Mains’ presentation was titled “ Made in the U.S.A. – Adopted by Foreign Families: The Impact on American Birth Parents, American Children, and Foreign Adoptive Parents following the ratification of the Hague Convention On Protection Of Children And Co-Operation In Respect Of Intercountry Adoption.” The conference was February 8 and 9, 2013, in Malibu, Califorina.

Mains’ research also revealed that statistics on outgoing adoptions from the U.S. State Department are contradictory to the information on adoptions reported by receiving countries.

“It was a great opportunity to present a unique area of the law that explores the application of state, federal and international law in a single event,” Mains said.

The conference focused on the important and complex topic of intercountry adoption. Praised by some and criticized by others, intercountry adoption remains a matter of deep contention on the global stage. Proponents see it as a way to give a purported 18.5 million adoptable orphans a family and a better life, while critics call it a door to corruption and cultural imperialism. The conference goal was to find understanding and common ground among divergent voices, while exploring the complex legal, religious and ethical issues raised by intercountry adoption.

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