International adoption challenges

I had a long (and depressing) conversation with our social worker the other day about the recent blows to the international adoption community. She not only works with families who are adopting internationally--she's also the mother to two Korean-born adult daughters.

We talked of the recent EP problems with South Korea, which really shocked and saddened her. Korea has been such a stable program for 40 years, so surprises are unusual.

But she also pointed out that there have been increasing global political challenges with international adoption from other countries as well. I knew that there have been issues with places like Guatemala, which has closed and re-opened it's program with shocking regularity, unfortunately.

Recently Ethiopia, who adopted 2277 children to the US in 2009, announced plans that would significantly reduce adoptions. Korea has been reducing the number of international adoptions by at least 10% each year. And many other countries are increasing regulations that would make international adoption more challenging.

A Washington Times adoption blogger outlines three countries who have made recent changes: Ukraine, Mexico and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some of the changes are huge, such as the Ukraine's who will now require children to be at least 5 years old before they can be adopted internationally. Others are less drastic, such as the Congo's new requirement that adoptive families must travel to the birth country to bring home their children.

These changes are disheartening. When a family is choosing adoption, there are many options and you choose the one that best fits your family. For many, like us, we chose international adoption. There are a large number of children who need homes in the world. If a suitable home cannot be found for them in their country of birth, whether for cultural reasons, social, or economic strife, it makes sense to search for a family outside of the country's borders. It's heartbreaking to think that politics and bureacracies can get in the way of giving children that security.

Historically, over the 40 years of international adoption history in this country, we have seen periods of increase and decline. There is an ebb and flow of countries that are open to this process too. Hopefully the recent changes are not an indication of the future of the survival of these programs.


For more information:

New regulations make international adoption harder than ever for Americans (Washington Times)

International Adoption (Adoption 101)

Adoption Statistics (Laws.com)

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  1. On the one hand, when children are really in need of homes (meaning ALL other choices are exhausted), I would hope that willing families from other countries would be allowed to adopt them. On the other hand, a lot of these countries are acting in what they believe are the best interests of the children (trying to encourage more domestic adoptions, trying to get a handle on corruption). There are no easy answers.

  2. Yep. I totally agree. There aren't any easy answers. And I don't think governments are making decisions with the intention to harm children. However, as with Korea, (admittedly the only country that I've had any experience with) sometimes the numbers just aren't adding up. The mandated 10% reduction per year in international adoptions is not balanced by a 10% increase in domestic adoptions within Korea. So where are these kids going?

  3. Thanks for sharing this info. It is a scary thought for those of us that would like to adopt internationally in the future. Just finding your blog and your life with your son sounds amazing! Thanks also for stopping by my blog and for the words of encouragement with my decision. Every little word means so much to me right now!


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