Keywords: Inter-country adoption – best interests – bonding – attachment – emotional development
This article examines the legal framework for protecting the best interests of the child in intercountry adoption focussing on the Hague Convention of 1993 on intercountry adoption. Grounded in human rights literature, the analysis also draws upon literature on child behaviour and child development, specifically attachment theory, in order to give further insight into our understanding of the best interests of the child in intercountry adoption. While issues of child development and behaviour are of general importance when making a best interests determination, attachment theory is particularly relevant in the context of intercountry adoption because of the disruption that can be caused to the child. The best interests of the child is relatively vague and undetermined, therefore we need a more developed understanding of this principle in the context of intercountry adoption. The UNCRC gives the child a right to have their best interests protected and that requires consideration of what a child’s developmental needs are. The paper will critically examine the legal framework under the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption in light of the literature and make recommendations for improvements in order to protect children’s best interests in this context.