International Adoptions Continue to Decline

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Twenty years ago, if you wanted to adopt an infant from China, you could almost get in line, wait 12-15 months and travel to the Orient to pick up your child. The chances were about 99-to-1 that you’d bring home a girl, unless you were willing to adopt a special needs boy, but the process was streamlined and had enjoyed steady growth over a number of decades. Over the last decade, though, that trend has completely reversed. And it’s not just adoptions from China, it’s international adoptions overall.

Consider these statistics. In 2004, nearly 23,000 foreign adoptees came into the United States. Just seven years later, the number was less than 10,000. In 2004, more than 13,000 children were adopted from China—by 2011, the number had dropped by more than 10,000.

According to adoption authorities, the trend has nothing to do with either supply or demand. There are just as many, if not more, children in orphanages in China and around the world, and there are just as many adoptive parents who want a child. Experts say it’s a change in attitude in those countries where the children live. Countries like China and Russia are finding that more and more people oppose sending orphans out of the country.

In addition, many foreign countries have implemented new rules making it harder for those most inclined and able to adopt to do so. The typical parent in a foreign adoption is older, and it’s not been uncommon for many to be single moms. In 2007, China changed its rules, prohibiting anyone over 50 from adopting, as well as single parents. The ban on single women was lifted in 2011, but all single adoptive mothers must now sign an affidavit swearing they are not gay. Families must also have at least $10,000 in income per family member and a minimum of $80,000 in assets.

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