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The welfare, or best interests, of the child has become a central tenet in international and national laws concerning adoption. Debates about what this means, or how this should be assessed, rarely consider divergences of approach engendered by cultural diversity or legal pluralism. This article takes the reader to the islands of the South Pacific, and examines the regulation of adoption in countries where Common Law was introduced under colonial influence alongside existing and surviving customary laws, and where international laws directed at safeguarding children have yet to make an impact. Although there are flaws in the present systems the article concludes by suggesting that there are also features which more developed countries might take into account when considering their own adoption regimes.
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