Adoption options plummet as Russia closes its doors

What's a prospective parent to do? As Russia closes its doors on adoptions by Americans, the options to adopt a child contract even more. Some families look homeward, but that's a challenge, too.

By Wendy Koch

January 10, 2013 / USA Today

The number of eligible children for Americans who want to adopt is reaching record lows as foreign countries such as Russia close their doors and fewer U.S. kids are available.

Adoptions by Americans from abroad are plummeting to a 20-year low after peaking at nearly 23,000 in 2004 and falling to 9,319 in 2011, according to the State Department. The number is expected to plunge further now that Russia, the third-largest source in the last five years, has announced it won't allow Americans to adopt any more of its orphans.

"It's been a cataclysmic implosion of intercountry adoption," said Tom DiFilipo of the Joint Council on International Children's Services, a non-profit. "It's truly the children who are suffering," he said, as countries accused of adoption fraud refuse to make changes and others acting out of nationalistic pride insist they can provide for their own.

Declines in orphan adoptions from other large foreign sources — China, Ethiopia and South Korea — are prompting some prospective parents to look homeward.

"A lot of families may switch to domestic," said Jenny Pope of Buckner International, an adoption agency. Yet even that's a growing challenge, because as single parenthood becomes more acceptable, she said "there are just not as many women placing their children for adoption."

As a result, the number of U.S. infant adoptions (about 90,000 in 1971) has fallen from 22,291 in 2002 to 18,078 in 2007, according to the most recent five-year tally from the private National Council for Adoption. Though the numbers are only current through 2007, the group's president, Chuck Johnson, expects the number has remained fairly stable since 2007, citing efforts to promote adoption.

There are fewer foster-care children available, because more are reunited with birth parents or adopted by relatives and foster parents. The overall number of kids in the system, 401,000 in 2011, has hit a 20-year low. The number waiting to be adopted fell from 130,637 in 2003 to 104,236 in 2011, according to the U.S. Children's Bureau. Their median age is 7 and they're a mix of races (28% black, 22% Hispanic and 40% white.)

"The options are far fewer for families," said Jennifer Doane of Wide Horizons for Children, an adoption agency. She said some, traumatized by costly failed attempts to adopt abroad, may not be ready to risk fostering a U.S. child only to lose guardianship later to birth parents whose parental rights are restored.

If people are willing to take that risk, their chances of adopting from foster care are much greater, said Kathy Ledesma of AdoptUsKids, a federally-funded listing service of eligible children.

Oregon's Patt Murphy and her husband Lawrence, who adopted their son from Russia in 2004, are now looking at foster care for another child, because they fear other countries may suddenly close their doors. They find adopting from foster care can be competitive but, she adds: "It's definitely worth it. The children really need you."

Laura Maneiro, a New York attorney, said she and her husband Pedro, 70, have switched from international to foster care, because they would be disqualified by the age limits set by many countries.

Despite the fewer options, Johnson said there are still as many Americans eager to adopt as ever. His advice: "Be prepared for a bumpier ride than 10 years ago."



Media: Mislead much?

Personally, I found the report from CBN news to be more accurate and concise:

Fewer Children Eligible for Adoption Despite Demand

Americans are adopting fewer children but it's not for lack of desire. It's because of lack of eligible children.

USA Today reports that the number of Americans seeking to adopt hasn't changed in recent years, but international adoptions are at a 20-year low.

The report lists adoption fraud as a major reason for the decline. Some couples have lost tens of thousands of dollars in scams.

Those looking for a child here at home are also finding a shortage of adoptable children.

One explanation is that as single parenthood becomes more common in U.S. society, fewer unwed mothers are placing children for adoption.

A diminish in the demand will happen only if the impossible were to happen:  the infertile will stop seeking infants through adoption-services.

Until that time, the demand for young healthy children will continue, in spite of reports that indicate many sending countries send-out already damaged infants/small children, (like those with FAS), surprising and upsetting "unsuspecting" and "desperate" PAPs not prepared to parent such children with so many complex needs. 

But hey, why should facts, like what is involved in ADOPTION FRAUD, be included in biased reports from national media outlets?

fewer children

Americans are adopting fewer children but it's not for lack of desire. It's because of lack of eligible children.

This is quite a good thing, really. This means fewer children are in need of homes.

And that is true in many situations in ICA today - there are fewer children who are unable to be kept by their mothers or placed with local adoptive families.

children "in need"

I totally agree with you: fewer children in-need of (foreign adoptive) homes is a very good thing.

Your comment also puts more attention on what is seen as "adoptable" and what is NOT adoptable.  In many cases, the children "kept" in-care and not wanted by locals are well-beyond your average "special needs child".  More often than not, these are the kids so damaged by neglect and abuse, a home setting of any kind would never work well, for either the child in-care, or the AP with a pre-existing family.

In short, PAPs "desperate" to have a child, foreign or not, need to recognize SOME children in-care need to remain in-care.  These types of children, as sad as it may seem, are too much of a risk to other people, especially small children and small animals/pets, making any private home-placement unsafe.  These children are doomed to a life in-care, (which can be VERY costly).  As a people, we need to accept such situations do exist.

These children are in-need of better care, for certain.... but that care does not have to be through adoption - domestic or international.

...and yet, Child Trafficking is on the rise

No surprise, coming from the latest UN report found here: A lack of care and education, which leads to poverty, creates the perfect breeding ground for traffickers, of all kinds, to congregate.

Offenders deliberately exploit the victims' hopeless state, said Jörg Ziercke, head of the German federal police service (BKA) at the joint news conference, confirming the UN Children's Fund's assessment that victims are often destitute and seeking a new and better life. "Perpetrators often resort to threats, violence and deceit to force victims into prostitution," Ziercke said.

As the old classic, Fly Away Children documentary indicates, those looking to expedite child trade are coming from adoption agencies, not just the very profitable sex-trade industry.

Exploitation is exploitation; coercion is coercion; fraud is fraud, and by no means can the adoption industry claim it's immune to such unethical practices.  

And still, far too many PAPs see nothing wrong with this form of child trade.  In fact, I believe most American APs will insist growing-up in America is the best outcome any poor foreign child could hope for... provided that child is not given a label associated with a mental illness or learning disability once he or she enters the school system.

child trafficking

child trafficking needs to end.....

No child should be separated from his/her family of origin due to kidnapping, tricks, bribery, falsified reports etc.

And most certainly some in the adoption industry have participated in this activity.

Pound Pup Legacy