With the recent release of Adoption By The Numbers from the National Council for Adoption, some discussion has been generated regarding International adoption versus adoption through domestic foster care or special needs.

The NCFA defines special needs adoption as, “children who are disabled physically or emotionally, children who are part of sibling groups, older children, or children of minority or ethnic backgrounds.”

There were 75,337 unrelated adoptions in the year 2014. Of that number, 61,341 were considered special needs using the above definition. The study also found 5,987 were international adoptions.

So while there are enormous differences in the numbers, people still find themselves wondering why Americans leave the country to adopt internationally when there are so many children in the States who need homes.

The NCFA has several answers.

Because adoption is an individual pursuit – although there are certainly groups who advocate for it – the choice of where and how to adopt is also individual. Why one chooses to adopt, and why one chooses to adopt internationally, or through foster care, or through infant adoption, is a very personal decision. Whatever the reason, when an adoption takes place it is cause for celebration. Adoption is the means of providing a family for a child in need. Whatever that need may be, family could be the stabilizing force in that child’s life to help meet that need – or those needs.

From the National Council for Adoption: “As a matter of public policy, it shouldn’t be an ‘either/or choice’ to adopt domestically or internationally. All children, everywhere deserve a family. Further, NCFA has concluded that a strong culture of adoption promotes the adoption of children; be they American children in foster care or orphans from around the world.” So the short answer to the question of WHY  some choose international adoption over foster care adoption is this: We don’t know. And it really doesn’t matter. Adoption gives children families, and for that reason, we celebrate.