Sad Statistics From the State Department

The U.S. State Department just released a report revealing the continuing decrease in the number of international adoptions. Since the peak of 22,884 in 2004, the number of international adoptions has dropped to 7,094 in

China still tops the list of sending countries, followed by Ethiopia and then Ukraine, Haiti and Congo. Russia, once one of the most popular sending countries, is almost off the list completely, with just 250 adoptions taking place before it banned adoption to the US last year.

Chuck Johnson, National Council on Adoption CEO, cited the application of the Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption as one of the reasons for the decline in adoptions. As I have pointed out before, this is not a surprise. The rigorous guidelines that come with overregulation make it exceedingly more difficult to adopt today than it was 10 years ago.

The Convention requires countries to meet minimum standards in international adoption; meeting these standards requires establishing new entities and systems within government in order to be compliant.1

But lower income countries like many in Africa don’t have the resources to meet these requirements. Because these countries can’t meet the Convention’s standards, the US State Department refuses to carry out inter-country adoptions with them.

As a result, adoption rates fall, leading to devastating consequences. Children languish in orphanages or on the streets. They contract and even die from diseases that are treatable or preventable in receiving countries. They are abused, trafficked on the black market, or become sex workers to survive.

More important than the drop in international adoption rates is the respective rise in the number of suffering children throughout the world. These sad statistics aren’t surprising, given the regulatory framework that’s in place. The system needs to be de-regulated, and should instead function via public-private partnerships.


1The Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000: The United States’ Ratification of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children, and its Meager Effect on International Adoption, by O’Keeffe, Kate, in 40 Vand. J. Transnat’l L. 1611 (‘November, 2007) at 1628-1629

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