Declining International Adoptions

 The world of blogging and social media have certainly brought many topics into regular conversation that were not common just a short few years ago. One of those is the world of international adoption. The topic has had a surge in popularity as a result. The lasting perception is that more international adoptions are happening than ever before.

In reality this is the furthest thing from the truth!

Adoption of children into the United States from other countries in the last 11 years has dropped over 68%. In 2004 there were nearly 23,000 international adoptions in the United States. According the United States Customs and Immigration Services that number has dropped below 6,500 in the fiscal year of 2014. That number is expected to continue its decline.

There are a number of reasons this is happening. A primary reason is due to changes in the international policies of the United States Department of State. Additionally, the implementation of the Hague Convention has created barriers. The changes and requirements have presented some logistical struggles for other countries resulting in a decline from sending countries.

Another reason is sending countries have made a decision to cease international adoptions altogether. This is certainly not something our government can control. But, a lack of diplomatic representation and resolve from the United States will keep the adoption of true orphans from being possible in these countries.

Currently there are an estimated 231,876 families waiting to adopt children internationally. However, due to requirements, hesitation and fear most of those families will never adopt children internationally. This is a problem.

Logistically there is a long wait period to adopt a child from another country.

Some countries average 2-3 years while others take as many as 6-8 years. When people discover the long wait, they often decide not to adopt. And, in many cases, families often abandon the process before it is complete. I believe it is crucial to educate and support families in this grueling process. This is the work of good agencies, such as Holt International.

Many requirements of the government and the other countries keep families from adopting. Some countries, such as China, have tightened their requirements and further limited the number of adoptions. While some nations, such as Haiti, have made it somewhat easier. With active diplomacy and proactive conversation with each nation, we may be able to give many more families the chance to adopt.

Funding is a large reason that many people have chosen not to adopt. The cost of adoption has risen sharply. In 2014 the costs of international adoption were between $31,000 and $64,000 per international adoption. This can be a daunting reality to families who are considering adoption, and many go no further when they discover this.

All of these factors have deeply impacted international adoptions. Without more active families, advocates and options there will be a continued decline in international adoptions.

UNICEF stated in 2013 that the number of true “double” orphans, those who had lost both parents, had risen to more than 18 million. While adoption is not the sole answer for an adoption crisis, it is one avenue of making an impact. If we don’t resolve the problems, which make it more difficult, the crisis will worsen.

There are great resources, agencies and organization that are working to make an impact. The support of adoptive families, passionate advocates and others can make a difference. Organizations such as Together for Adoption, Both Ends Burning and Pure Charity offer advocacy, resources and funding to help make international adoptions more possible.

If you have considered international adoption, there is no better time than now to take action. Yes, it is a long and tough process. But, there are now more powerful, efficient and effective resources to help you.

More than 90,000 fewer children have been adopted in the last decade, and with over 18 million eligible orphans, there is a child waiting for you. It is time to take an active role in changing the lives of children from around the world.