Foreign adoptions by Americans fall, number of worldwide orphans rises
Foreign adoptions by Americans fell to their lowest level since 1994, according to the State Department. Foreign adoptions by Americans keep falling, despite the continuing increase in the amount of orphans and needy children worldwide.
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"We're demoralized," said Chuck Johnson, CEO of the National Council of Adoption, in an interview before release of the latest numbers. "It's a failure of leadership, from everyone involved, myself included, to come up with policies and procedures that open up doors for kids."Skip to next paragraph
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Kathleen Strottman, executive director of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, said she found it frustrating that the foreign adoption numbers kept dropping at a time when the number of orphans and abandoned children worldwide was rising.
"Maybe, once and for all, we're at a point where we see how crucial it is for the US government to step up and take a real leadership role," she said.
Susan Jacobs, the State Department's special adviser on children's issues, said in a telephone interview that she and her colleagues remained "very disappointed" by the Russian ban.
"They're angry with us, and they've found something that would hurt us," she said. "But it also hurts the Russian children who are looking for a home."
Jacobs expressed some wariness about the increased number of adoptions from Africa, noting that several of those countries were not signatories to the Hague Convention, a treaty that sets ethical standards for intercountry adoption. But she suggested that Americans should be pleased — not disappointed — by the declining numbers of foreign adoptions from nations such as China and South Korea, which have been improving their domestic adoption and child welfare programs.
The international developments have narrowed the options for Americans who want to adopt. According to the latest tally by the National Council for Adoption — based on 2007 data — there were about 76,000 domestic adoptions that year, not including adoptions by relatives. Of that total, about 43,000 involved children adopted from foster care, and the rest were handled either by private agencies or private individuals, such as attorneys.
By last count, there were about 104,000 children in the US foster care system available for adoption. This group generally includes many children with emotional or physical difficulties, as well as higher proportions of blacks and Hispanics than the general population.
Adam Pertman, executive director of the Donaldson Adoption Institute, said the decline in foreign adoptions was part of a broader change in the demography of adoption, but he stressed that ample options remain for parents wishing to bring a child into their homes.
"There's a growing number of parents who have trouble finding a child to adopt who fits into their original vision of what would happen," he said. "But if they are willing to adopt across racial and ethnic lines, or adopt older children, the kids are there."
Bill Blacquiere of Bethany Christian Services, one the largest US adoption agencies, said his national network generally has a waiting list of some 700 would-be adoptive parents waiting for children to become available.
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In hopes of adding at least a few more babies to the adoption pool, Bethany has teamed with a conservative media organization, Heroic Media, on an advertising campaign seeking to persuade pregnant women considering an abortion to choose adoption instead.
"We're not saying adoption is for everyone," Blacquiere said. "We're just saying, 'Be aware of all the facts.'"