by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
International adoptions to America have been falling dramatically for the past 15 years, and a recent report shows that the decline hasn’t slowed.
The U.S. Department of State’s annual intercountry adoption report to Congress, released in March, shows that Nolan Garber was one of just 4,059 children adopted from overseas in FY 2018. This represents a 13 percent decline since the prior year, an 82 percent decline since intercountry adoption’s peak in 2004, and a new historic low.
Why Is Adoption Disappearing?
In its report, the Department of State (DOS)—which functions as the U.S. authority over international adoption—offers a few explanations for the latest decline. It notes that the largest decrease last year occurred in China, where the communist government has been suppressing the activities of all foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
DOS also lays heavy blame on U.S. adoption agencies and the families they represent. The department spends nearly half its report summary discussing foreign governments’ concerns about the conduct of agencies and adoptive families, from their failure to submit required post-adoption reports to disrupted adoptions to allegations of unethical practices. The DOS report paints a picture of foreign governments who doubt Americans’ integrity and are therefore reluctant to work with them.
Adoption advocates dispute this portrayal, criticizing DOS for failing to acknowledge its own role in the steep decline of intercountry adoption.
“DOS has chosen to focus almost all of their attention on the regulation of intercountry adoption and not its advocacy,” the National Council For Adoption (NCFA) said in a press release. “This is what happens when you only impose overbearing regulations that make it increasingly difficult to facilitate intercountry adoption.”