U.S. adoption of foreign born children drops by 15 percent

Nobel Prize winning author Pearl S. Buck championed adoption of foreign born children, particularly Asian children, by Americans. Her specific motivation arose from concern over the number of half-American children born in countries where the U.S. had service members. Specifically, neither country would recognize these children as their own or put them up for adoption. She, however, called them the future, and actively promoted their adoptions.

While Pearl S. Buck’s heroic actions helped pave the way for international adoptions by parents here in the U.S. for many decades, recent statistics from the State Department reveal that adoptions of children born in other countries actually dropped by more than 15 percent during the last fiscal year.

According to the State Department figures, there were 9,320 international adoptions during fiscal year 2011, as compared with 11,059 international adoptions in 2010 and the record high of 22,884 in 2004.

What’s behind this rather steep decline?

Nearly one-third of foreign born children adopted in the U.S. come from China. Together with adoptions from Ethiopia, these two nations account for almost one-half of all U.S. adoptions.

However, adoptions from China dropped almost 25 percent last year, and those from Ethiopia dropped by about 60 percent. Here, experts attribute the decline of adoptions from China to the fact that the nation has an altogether smaller number of abandoned children and has seen an increasing interest in domestic adoption. As for Ethiopia, experts attribute the decline to a decision by the government to purposely slow the pace of international adoptions as a means of reducing workload and fraud.

Surprisingly, adoptions from Haiti seemed non-existent compared to those from other Latino nations, and from South Korea.

South Korea, one of the nations of most concern to Pearl S. Buck, had only 736 adoptions to the United States last year. Many more than Colombia (216) or Uganda (207), but still far greater than Vietnam or Nepal, where international adoptions have been suspended because of questionable practices.

The decline in international adoptions understandably has many child advocates concerned.

“This trend is not right, and it is not good for children,” said Chuck Johnson, president of the National Council for Adoption. “Given the increasing number of orphaned children worldwide, the continued decline in intercountry adoptions means that children’s most basic needs and rights are being denied.”

Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

To learn more about child custody, visitation, grandparents’ rights or adoption rights, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


The Chicago Sun-Times, “Americans adopted 15 percent fewer foreign children last year” Nov. 16, 2011

University of Pennsylvania, “Brief Biography of Pearl S. Buck”