While many would-be parents here in the U.S. are eager to take children from other countries into their homes, they are now encountering significant obstacles as international adoption has become a much harder prospect in recent years. To illustrate, there were fewer than half as many international adoptions last year than there were eight years ago.
“The era of the boom time for international adoption, I think, has passed us by,” said Adam Pertman, the head of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, who compared international adoptions of the past to the Wild West.
Several factors converged to create pressure for more regulations abroad, including allegations of fraud, baby selling and even abuse by adoptive parents. In one widely publicized case, a mother in the U.S. decided she didn’t want to keep her 7-year-old adopted son, and sent him back to Russia on an airplane by himself.
The United States and other countries have signed onto an agreement called the Hague Adoption Convention, which strictly regulates the adoption process in the interest of transparency. Some countries, though, have opted to shut down their adoption programs altogether while they try to meet the Convention’s standards.
In fact, Russia and China are now trying to encourage adoptions within their own countries, rather than sending children to the United States, as a matter of national pride.
While there are still children available to be adopted by U.S. parents, those children are likely to be older and/or to have special needs. Furthermore, U.S. parents are likely to have to wait much longer now to complete an adoption.
Experts say that such delays can only be detrimental to the children waiting for loving homes.
“We know that orphanage life, institutional care, diminishes children,” said Pertman. “They lose IQ points every day. They lose the ability to attach to other adults, they get stunted developmentally, there’s psychological damage, every day.”
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This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
NPR, “Would-be parents wait as foreign adoptions plunge,” Jennifer Ludden and Marisa Peñaloza, Aug. 7, 2012