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New Intercountry Adoption Report Details Decreasing International Adoption Numbers

A new report by the U.S. Department of State highlights an adoption trend that professionals have known for years — international adoption to the United States is dropping, and rapidly so.
While it was once a staple for hopeful American parents, adoption from foreign countries is a much more difficult path to travel today. The report from the Department of State details how intercounty adoptions to the U.S. have dropped over 13 percent from last year — and over 84 percent since 2004. In total, American families adopted only 4,059 children from foreign countries between October 2017 and September 2018.
The decrease in overall foreign adoptions can be explained by the decrease from the previously largest-sending countries to the U.S. These include:

  • Democratic Republic of Congo (decreased by 65 percent)
  • Ethiopia (decreased by 43 percent and imposed a ban on intercountry adoption in 2018)
  • Uganda (decreased by 53 percent)
  • Ethiopia (decreased by 43 percent)
  • South Korea (decreased by 25 percent)
  • China (decreased by 23 percent)
  • Haiti (decreased by 14 percent)
  • Bulgaria (decreased by 9 percent)

In its coverage of the report, the National Council for Adoption points out how the Department of State has contributed to this decline through increased regulation of the process. Rather than advocate for intercountry adoption, moves by the U.S. Department of State over the last decade have made it harder for hopeful adoptive parents to adopt internationally — where there are millions of children without families, waiting to be adopted.
At the same time, countries across the world are closing their doors to hopeful adoptive parents. The biggest players in American foreign adoption in the early 2000s — including Russia, China, and South Korea — have all imposed restrictions on the number of children being placed abroad. Officials cite the best interest of the children as primary factors, although politics play as great a role in adoption regulation as anything else.
Another point of interest from the report? Only 81 American children were adopted out to foreign countries in 2018, while the list of waiting children in foster care has risen to a nine-year high.
International adoption has been a complicated issue for years — one that has predated the current administration. Unfortunately, making international adoption easily accessible again doesn’t have a quick solution. There are many factors that come into play, both those within the United States government and those within foreign governments. Before you decide to pursue international adoption as a hopeful American parent, we encourage you to be as informed as possible about the process and what to expect adopting from the country of your choice.
For more information on inspiring change within the international adoption system, stay up-to-date on announcements from the U.S. Department of State and the National Council for Adoption.