Prevent adoption black market from forming

I support Ms Theresa Tan's call to "remove the profit motive totally" and allow only non-profit groups to facilitate the adoption process ("Remove profit motive from adoption process"; Thursday).

The purpose of adoption is to help children find the parents they need, not help couples find the children they want.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child - to which Singapore is a party - mandates that "the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration" in a system of adoption.

The needs of children trump the desires of adults.

Article 35 of the convention requires state parties to "take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent the abduction of, the sale of or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form".

Some of these measures are in place here. Under the Adoption of Children Act, it is unlawful to give or receive any payment or reward in consideration of the adoption of any infant without the sanction of the court. Abduction is also a serious offence under the Penal Code.

Nevertheless, given the human rights issues at stake and in order to safeguard the best interests of children, the Government should put in place and enforce stringent regulations on all parties in the adoption process, to ensure that no incentives are exchanged.

Those who sell or traffic in children should also be dealt with seriously.

These are but some steps the Government can take to help the system of adoption bestow its priceless gifts of life, love and hope to children in need, instead of becoming a black market for children.

Darius Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2016, with the headline 'Prevent adoption black market from forming'. Print Edition | Subscribe