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Supply and Demand: The Landscape


• Guatemala

» Trend: A lengthy civil war that ended in 1996 orphaned thousands of children. Americans have adopted more than 23,000 Guatemalan children since 2002, giving Guatemala the highest per capita adoption rate in the world. In 2008, Americans adopted more children from Guatemala than any other country.

» Status: The country’s adoption market has been fraught with corruption, violence and fraud, and today Guatemala has closed its borders to intercountry adoptions. While the country implemented adoption guidelines under the Hague Convention Treaty in 2008 and now has a central authority governing all adoptions, the U.S. government says the nation has had “insufficient time to implement reform legislation that would create a Convention-compliant process” and as a result is unable to meet Hague obligations.

• Vietnam

» Trend: Americans adopted 2,220 children from Vietnam from 2006 to 2009.

» Status: International adoption is suspended in Vietnam because of “evidence of significant irregularities, fraud, and the lack of sufficient legal safeguards in Vietnam’s adoption process.” The country recently passed a new adoption law and has signaled its intention to become a party to the Hague Convention.

• South Korea

» Trend: Adoption of South Korean orphans declined from 1,628 in 2005 to 1,077 in 2009, but the country is still the fourth-most-popular source of children in overseas adoptions.

» Status: South Korea is not a signatory of Hague. Americans wishing to adopt must use adoption agencies certified by the country’s Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs. Regulations are strict: Only couples between 25 and 44 can adopt; they must be married for at least three years, have an income higher than the U.S. national average; and not have more than five children.

• China

» Trend: The country has been the No. 1 source of children for Americans adopting overseas every year but one since 2001. During that period, Americans have adopted more than 50,000 Chinese children.

» Status: Regulatory barriers to adoption have grown. The current waiting period is more than three years. Both parents must be between ages 30 and 50 and financially sound and physically healthy, with stable employment and annual income of at least $10,000 for each family member in the household. One criterion for disqualification: A body mass index of 40 or more.

• Ethiopia

» Trend: In 2001, only 158 Ethiopian children were adopted by American families. By 2009, Ethiopia ranked second only to China as the top source for international adoptions by Americans, who adopted 2,277 Ethiopian children that year.

» Status: On its website, the U.S. State Department says it “shares families’ concerns about recent media reports alleging direct recruitment of children from birth parents by adoption service providers or their employees” and in response has increased scrutiny of its adoption visa processing at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa.

• Russia

» Trend: Russia has ranked second or third among all countries as a source of adopted children for U.S. families since 2001, with more than 30,000 children adopted. The number of children adopted from the country has declined in recent years, however, from a high of 5,865 in 2004 to 1,586 in 2009.

» Status: Intercountry adoptions between the U.S. and Russia have been strained amid several highly publicized cases of mistreatment of Russian children by their American adoptive families. The scandals have also touched off a political debate in Russia, which is not a party to Hague adoption guidelines, about how to better protect Russian orphans. As a result, Russia has enacted stricter policies for foreign adoptive parents and made a concerted push to improve to its own foster care programs and encourage domestic adoption.

Part of a series of 6 articles in Florida Trend regarding International Adoption







2010 Nov 1