What foreign adoption bans mean for would-be parents

Published: Monday, Jan. 28 2013 10:03 a.m. MST

Rich and Happie Larson at home with their kids Wednesday, July 11, 2012. The Larsen's have been foster parents for nearly 26 years and have 15 adopted children. Russia joined a growing number of countries that have banned adoption of children by American families. Some suggest that adoptions of children in the domestic foster care system will increase as a result.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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Just before Christmas President Vladimir V. Putin signed a bill banning the adoption of Russian children by American citizens, according to the New York Times. From their report: The decision is a "serious blow to an already strained diplomatic relationship. But for hundreds of Americans enmeshed in the costly, complicated adoption process, the impact was deeply personal."

It's become a familiar story in the world of international adoption, reports NPR. Nations that have traditionally sent the most children to the United States — including South Korea, China and Guatemala — have all scaled back, and in some cases ended their foreign adoption programs entirely.

Figures from the State Department show that the number of foreign children adopted by American parents has decreased by 62 percent in the last 10 years, from a high of 22,990 children in 2004 to just 8,668 children in 2012, reported the Chicago Tribune.

International adoptions have dropped steadily for two major reasons, according to Jasmine Budak in an article for the Canadian news magazine The Walrus. First, their are fewer children available for foreign adoptions because the rising middle classes in countries like India and China are adopting children. As domestic adoptions increase, their are fewer children available to families in the West. A second reason international adoptions have decreased is that countries are engaged in efforts to clean up an industry plagued by corruption.

And while the flow of foreign infants continues to diminish, the domestic public system may be in a unique position to fill the gap, or at least to take advantage and divert more hopeful parents to the thousands of kids in foster homes, wrote Budak.

“Because the supply of infants has dropped dramatically, childless couples find themselves going for what’s left: the kids who are at risk,” said University of Guelph psychology professor Michael Grand in an interview with Budak. “These are not the kids who have been traditionally chosen first.”

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