What Low Numbers of Overseas Adoptions Mean for Children Worldwide

Father and sons playing together

(DGIwire) — For decades, American couples looking to adopt a child have set their sights overseas. Whether they are unable to conceive a child of their own or are passionate about providing a home for a child who doesn’t have one, American couples have relied on countries such as China, Ethiopia, Ukraine, and Haiti to have secure programs and relatively short waitlists, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal. While there is still high demand for overseas adoption, the Journal reported that foreign adoptions are actually at their lowest level in more than three decades.

There were nearly 23,000 overseas adoptions in 2004, yet the year 2014 only saw 6,441, according to State Department data delivered to Congress in March 2015 and publicly released the following month. This past year’s total was the smallest since 1982, when there were 5,749 adoptions. Despite these falling numbers, the Journal reports that China remains the most popular country from which to adopt, with 2,040 adoptions in the past year. Still, that pales in comparison to the nearly 8,000 Chinese children adopted by Americans in 2005. Ethiopia ranked second at 716 adoptions, down from 993 in 2013. The Ukraine and Haiti were number three and four, respectively.

According to the Journal, adoption agencies attribute the steep drop to policies meant to promote domestic adoption and foster care in countries such as Ethiopia; nationalist sentiment against adoption in emerging economies such as China and South Korea; and increased U.S. scrutiny of some countries and individual cases. The State Department has also tightened its control over international adoption after finding a large number of children in orphanages who were in fact not orphans, but rather children who had been taken from their families. Trish Maskew, the State Department’s adoption chief, told the Journal that the U.S. aims to protect all those involved in the process.

So how can Americans looking to adopt a child from overseas make sure they start their families in the safest way possible? The Department of Homeland Security explains international adoptions extensively at the following website: https://www.dhs.gov/how-do-i/adopt-child-internationally

Father and son brushing their teeth“Although wanting to adopt a child from overseas is admirable, people must be cognizant of where they are adopting from,” says Stephanie Fast, a highly respected orphan advocate and author. “The number of international adoptions may be down, but in fact the increased vigilance and heightened requirements for orphanages in these countries is a step in the right direction.” Fast herself was an orphan adopted by an American couple. After being deserted by her mother when she was about four and a half years old, she nearly succumbed to premature death in war-torn Korea. In her moving and unforgettable memoir, She Is Mine, Stephanie recounts her tragic beginning—from the point of view of the child she was then.

“Choosing to bring a child into your home through overseas or domestic adoption is noble,” adds Fast. “For those who want to help orphans, but for whom it might not be feasible to adopt, there are still dozens of ways to help children around the world.”

Join Stephanie and thousands of others to help address the global orphan epidemic at StephanieFast.org.

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