Wednesday, October 24, 2012

International Adoption Policies Make Fewer Foreign Children Available for International Adoption

While the number of international orphans and the interest in
international adoptions is increasing, the number of
international adoptions by Americans is decreasing.

The Hague convention regulating international adoptions from many
countries has potentially placed an excessive burden on adoption
providers. I believe it has also added costs. The recession has
certainly not helped parents afford adoption. Strong
nationalistic movements in many foreign countries to try to push
local citizens to adopt (sometimes with monetary payments) have
limited the number of children available to international
parents. Other countries have placed new policies and procedures
limiting the number of children foreigners can adopt.

Lost in all the politics and policies are the tens of millions of
children without families. I think there needs to be a balance
between protection and availability.

Brook Adams addresses some of the issues affecting foreign
adoption trends in this article:

As the number of orphans worldwide grows, those eligible for
adoption by Americans has plummeted.

There is no single factor that explains the drop in adoptions,
experts say, which has occurred as orphans now number 153 million
worldwide, including 18 million who have lost both parents, and
as many as 8 million living in institutions, according to UNICEF.

Interest in adoption remains strong, though the recession may
have affected some families' ability to handle the expense,
experts say.

But most experts bring up two issues when asked to explain the
decline: the rise in nationalistic policies by foreign countries
favoring domestic adoption, and The Hague Adoption Convention,
which was fully implemented in the United States in 2008.

In China and Russia, which have 600,000 and more than 700,000
orphans, respectively, new policies and procedures have affected
the number of children available to foreigners to adopt. Russia's
review, which led to new regulations that begin Nov. 1, was
spurred by alleged abuse and deaths of nearly two dozen children
adopted by American families.

As for The Hague treaty, "It's taken a few years to try to figure
out the accreditation of agencies and put safeguards in place
around the world for children ... but we're seeing progress,"
said Denise Bierly, president of the American Academy of Adoption
Attorneys. "I'm optimistic that international adoptions will
increase and will increase dramatically."

The United States recorded a peak number of adoptions of children
from foreign countries in 2004 -- 22,991 -- but international
adoptions have fallen steadily since then. In 2011, slightly more
than 9,300 children were brought into the United States from
another country.

The U.S. became a signatory to The Hague Adoption Convention in
1994, but it did not take full effect until four years ago.
Countries that belong to The Hague treaty agree to follow
international standards and protections for service providers,
adoptive parents and eligibility of adoptees. Those safeguards
are intended to prevent the abduction, sale and trafficking of

About 86 countries now belong to the accord, though the U.S. is
not processing adoptions from six countries it believes are not
in full compliance with the treaty.

"We think a lot of good things have come out of (Hague)," said
Chuck Johnson, president of the National Council for Adoption.
The positives include uniform practice standards, pre- and
post-adoption support, oversight and transparency.

At the same time, some adoption experts say The Hague adoption
treaty has overly burdened the international adoption process,
and the United States has been too harsh in its assessment of
whether some countries are fully complying with the protocols.

"The reports we receive from adoptive families is the new
processes due to working with a Hague country have become too
difficult," said Laura Trinnaman, director of For Every Child
Adoption Services. "And the cost of accreditation and meeting the
requirements of being a Hague-accredited agency have put many,
many agencies out of business."

When Hague was approved by the U.S. Senate, it was viewed as a
better way to facilitate and safeguard international adoptions,
said Kathleen Strottman, director of the Congressional Coalition
on Adoption Institute and former adviser to Sen. Mary Landrieu,
D-La., who has led numerous adoption-related initiatives.

But many countries have struggled to meet its provisions, turning
the standards into a legalistic checklist rather than goals, said

Many of those countries simply don't have the resources --
monetary or technical -- to do what is needed.

Ambassador Susan Jacobs, special adviser for children's issues in
the U.S. Department of State, is unapologetic about the more
rigorous standards now in place.

As for added scrutiny of agencies, Jacobs said, "What we have
found is providers who are accredited do a better job. Parents
should have confidence in agencies doing this work."

And that may eventually be law. A "universal accreditation" bill
pending in the U.S. Congress -- already approved by a Senate
committee -- would set similar standards for adoption service
providers working in non-Hague countries, which are responsible
for slightly more than half the adoptions taking place today.
Four of the top five countries from which children are adopted by
American families have not signed The Hague treaty.


Top five countries, with most recent year's numbers:

2011: China (2,587), Ethiopia (1,732), Russia (962), South Korea
(736), Ukraine (640)

2010: China, Ethiopia, Russia, South Korea, Ukraine

2009: China, Ethiopia, Russia, South Korea, Guatemala

2008: Guatemala, China, Russia, Ethiopia, South Korea

Source: U.S. Department of State

BROOKE ADAMS, Salt Lake Tribune

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Upcoming Events:

Ukrainian Adoption 101:

Conversation On International Adoption: Opportunity, Process,
Concerns and Questions

Monday, November 12, 2012 6:00-7:00PM

Location: Califon Book Store: 72 Main Street, Califon, New Jersey

Ukrainian Adoption Information Meeting

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 7:00-8:00PM

Location: Wellness Rocks: 133 Rupell Road, Clinton, New Jersey

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