As required by the Intercountry Adoption Act, passed by Congress in 2000, the U.S. State Department recently sent its FY 2012 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption to the Hill. According to the report, the total number of intercountry adoptions to the US in 2012 has dropped to 8,668, as compared to 9,320 in FY 2011. This decline, which has been a trend in recent years, is the result of several factors.
First, countries that have been longtime partners with the United States in international adoption have experienced significant reductions in the number of children adopted by United States Citizens. For instance, in 2005, 14,493 Chinese children were adopted by US families as opposed to 2,697 adoptions in 2012. Similarly, in 2004 Russian adoptions peaked at 9,425, compared to 748 last year and Korea dropped from 2,287 US adoptions in 2003 to 627 in 2012.
Secondly, several countries, that at one point had significant numbers of children being placed with families in the United States, have closed their international adoption programs altogether. In 2007, the year that the Guatemalan Congress passed its international adoption reform legislation, there were 4,844 adoptions of Guatemalan children by US families and in the same year, Vietnam, which has also since suspended adoptions, placed 1,692 of their children with families the United States. Cambodia, which has been closed to international adoption since 2001, was at the time one of the top ten countries, with 800 children a year being adopted by US families.
In either case, the declines are attributable to one of two things, or a combination thereof. First, countries such as Korea, China, and Russia have made sincere efforts to increase the number of children adopted domestically in their respective countries. There is also some evidence to suggest that the number of children being abandoned in these countries has declined. Secondly, there has been a tremendous amount of pressure put on developing countries to shut down their international programs to prevent or guard against fraudulent or corruptive practices in the adoption process.
There are some other trends that are worth noting. Four out of five of 5 of Hague compliant countries that facilitated the most adoptions, reported having average processing times of over a year, with India reporting 606 days being needed to complete a case. Given the importance of a strong and reliable connection to a family for a child of any age, it is worth looking at if there are ways to appropriately shorten these timeframes.
And there is a bit of good news. According to the US State Department, 99 US born children had their dream of a family fulfilled by a family outside of the United States, an increase from last year (73). The report notes that the majority of these families are in Ireland, Netherlands and Canada. What this shows is that the United States is committed to looking anywhere in the world to find a safe and loving home for its children.
So what does all this mean? First off, it is important to remember that there is no such thing as an “ideal” number of international adoptions. While international adoption is an important tool for countries to use in reducing the number of children living outside of family care, it is not always the best or most appropriate option for every child. That being said, there is an ideal number of children living outside the care and protection of a family; ZERO.
CCAI hopes that the recently released report and others like it will serve as evidence of the need for the US government to take the lead in the effort to reduce the number of children living outside of family care and will continue to support the efforts of federal policy makers to move us in this direction.
FY 2012 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption
The five countries that facilitated the most intercountry adoptions into the U.S. in FY 2012:
||FY 2012 (# of incoming cases)
||FY 2011 (# of incoming cases)
||2,697 (31% of all intercountry adoptions)
The 5 Countries that comply with the Hague convention that facilitated the most adoptions, average number of days to completion, and median adoption fees per country in FY 2012:
||FY 2012 (incoming cases)
||Average days to completion
||Median adoption fees
The Total number of outgoing intercountry adoptions from the U.S. in FY 2012:
The three countries with the highest number of intercountry adoptions from the U.S. in FY 2012:
||FY 2012 (# of outgoing cases)
||FY 2011 (# of outgoing cases)