Foreign Adoptions by Americans Drop to Lowest Level Since 1982

Miriam Jordan, Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2015

Dawn and Jesse Seltrecht filed paperwork to adopt a Chinese baby in 2007. More than eight years later, they are still waiting.

“China had the most secure program and the shortest waitlist,” said Ms. Seltrecht, 39 years old, of Cedarburg, Wis.

Their experience is increasingly common for Americans adopting abroad, as the number of children available for international adoption diminishes and restrictions increase.

Foreign adoptions have plummeted to their lowest level in more than three decades, according to State Department data delivered to Congress on Tuesday and publicly released on Wednesday–to 6,441 in the 2014 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. That’s down from 7,092 the previous year and about 23,000 in 2004. This year’s total is the smallest since 1982, when there were 5,749 adoptions.

China remains the most popular country, with 2,040 adoptions from there. Still, that pales in comparison to the nearly 8,000 Chinese children adopted by Americans in 2005. Ethiopia ranked second at 716 adoptions, down from 993 in 2013. Ukraine and Haiti, two emerging sources, were No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. Russia, a major source until 2012, no longer allows Americans to adopt from there.

Adoption agencies say hundreds of thousands of children abroad need homes, and families in the U.S. are eager to take them in. They attribute the steep drop to policies meant to promote domestic adoption and foster care in countries such as Ethiopia; nationalist sentiment against adoption in emerging economies like China and South Korea; and increased U.S. scrutiny of some countries and individual cases.


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