Foreign adoptions hit 30-year low in U.S.

Texas residents interested in adoption may be interested to learn that new data released by the U.S. State Department shows that foreign adoptions have fallen to their lowest level in more than 30 years. Americans adopted 6,441 babies from foreign countries in the 2014 fiscal year, which is down from 7,092 in 2013. It is the lowest number of adoptions since 5,749 were adopted in 1982 and a massive drop from the approximately 23,000 that took place in 2004.

According to adoption agencies, the sharp decline is due to a few factors. In China and South Korea, anti-adoption nationalist sentiment has grown, while in other countries, such as Ethiopia, new policies have been enacted to promote domestic adoptions. In 2013, Russia also banned adoptions by Americans after the U.S. sanctioned Moscow for human rights violations.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has increased scrutiny of foreign adoptions in an attempt to discourage human trafficking. In 2008, the U.S. becomes a signatory to the Hague Convention dealing with intercountry adoption, which is designed to promote ethical adoption standards. While the treaty was supposed to facilitate legitimate adoptions, some experts believe it is preventing countries with large orphan populations from working with the U.S. because its policies are overly strict.

For now, China is the first choice for most Americans looking to adopt, with 2,040 babies placed with U.S. families last year. However, the wait for a healthy Chinese baby is several years. Ethiopia was the second most popular country in 2014, with 716 adoptions. Ukraine and Haiti rounded out the top four sources.

Those wishing to adopt a child from a foreign country may wish to consult with an attorney early in the process. Legal counsel with experience in these matters can provide information on state, federal and international adoption requirements.

Source: Wall Street Journal, “Foreign Adoptions by Americans Drop to Lowest Level Since 1982,” Miriam Jordan, March 31, 2015