Lesson Plans

International Adoption: Ethics and Effects


A framed series of photos hanging in the house of one birth family in Southern Ethiopia. The family's three daughters out of seven children have been adopted to the U.S. The top right photo shows the sisters' U.S. family. Image by Kathryn Joyce. Ethiopia, 2011.

This curriculum was created by Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs and her Curriculum 21 faculty.

This lesson aligns with Common Core State Standards for Grade 9-12 English Language Arts.

Common Core Standards:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.


CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.


CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8: Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.


CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1.a: Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1.b: Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience's knowledge level and concerns.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7: Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.9: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.6: Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.9: Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.


  1. Textual support
  2. Interpretation of inferences
  3. Arguments (claims and counter-claims)
  4. Ethics of Ethiopia’s and Nepal’s international adoption process
  5. The role of adoption searchers in international adoption
  6. Hague Adoption Convention
  7. U.S. role in “policing” international adoption
  8. Comparison/contrast format


  1. Provide strong textual evidence to support an analysis of non-fiction articles.
  2. Use textual evidence to support interpretation of inferences within informational text.
  3. Provide support for arguments (claims and counter-claims) in a debate by providing specific evidence to support and reject claims and counter-claims.
  4. Discuss ethics by stating claims and counter-claims using the blog format to share views and evidence on-line.
  5. Explore the role of Adoption Searchers through research and personal or remote interviews of people involved with adoption and explain the necessity of this role in international adoption.
  6. Analyze the rules governing International Adoption as conveyed by the Hague Adoption Convention.
  7. Evaluate the effect that the Hague Adoption Convention’s rules and guidelines have had on international adoption.
  8. Explain and analyze the role of the U.S. in policing international adoption using appropriate digital media which is housed on a class or school website.
  9. Compare and contrast the point of view of two or more authors who address the topic of international adoption using photographs, music, or digital format.

Key Terms:

  • Ethiopia
  • Adoption ethics
  • Harvesting of children
  • Child trafficking
  • Adoption searchers
  • Adoption fraud
  • Exponential growth
  • Adoption world’s “New China”
  • Adoption “hot spots”
  • Adoption “whistleblowers”
  • Ethical problems with international adoption
  • Lucrative
  • “Intact families”
  • Court vetting procedure
  • Relinquished
  • Hamlet
  • Repercussions
  • Hague Adoption Convention
  • Adoptions’ “hidden structures of “organized crime”

Learning Plan and Activities:

  1. Debate: Both Sides of the Question: “In international adoptions are the children who are taken from families who live in poverty and can not feed or educate their children better off even if they have been stolen or taken from an intact family?” Include the ethics of international adoptions in the arguments.

  2. Interview of international adoptees using Digital Storytelling Wiki to share the interview and information with classmates and local news outlets.

  3. Using Yola create your own class website that contains information, interviews, and examples for Americans adopting internationally with a checklist of things to investigate and obstacles that can be encountered with solutions for overcoming the obstacles.

  4. Use WolframAlpha to make a comparison of which countries provide the best results for the adopting families, the children who are adopted, and any relatives the child might have who are still living.

  5. Research symposiums on international adoption and apply to present a policy brief that will be housed on a class wiki and be presented upon acceptance by the organization.


  1. Debate and evaluation of arguments on both sides of the question using rubric created by students and teacher.
  2. Digital storytelling interviews with the list of questions for the interview and the spontaneous follow-up questions.
  3. Website on Yola.com with the information, interviews, and examples to assist those interested in international adoption (include the data created on WolframAlpha).
  4. Charts, graphs, and data created on WolframAlpha to compare the countries that offer international adoption for use by those who might want to adopt.
  5. Final Unit Assessment: Policy brief in which the students discuss the ethics, problems, and solutions of international adoption, which is housed on a class wiki and will be shared at a symposium on international adoption.


Educator Notes: 

This unit has been designed for grades 9-12. The recommended timeframe is 4-6 weeks.

This curriculum was created by Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs and her Curriculum 21 faculty.

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