With the acceptance of adoption rising daily in the United States and the fascination with the celebrity adoption, you may be surprised to hear that international adoption numbers are at an all-time low. According to USA Today, international adoption rates are down 80% since 2004; only 4,714 took place in 2017.

The state department has been heavily involved in adoption recently.

Much of the crisis begins not with lack of interest in international adoption, but the rather negligent intervention of the government in adoption practices. The entry of the U.S. into the Hague Convention On Intercountry Adoption as well as regulations of the State Department into adoption entity accreditations have plummeted the intercountry adoption rates.

The Hague Convention

The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption was entered into in 2008 with hopes that it would provide support to prospective adoptive parents and ease the process of international adoption. Unfortunately, many believe the Hague Convention has been a massive failure on many levels and has created a crisis for international adoption.

Many believe the Hague Convention has given the state department only more power to tighten the reins of adoption regulations, making international adoption nearly impossible for some. The Office of Children’s Issues proposed many of these regulations but is failing to take into consideration the collateral damage these regulations hold.

Former United States Senator and former Co-Chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Mary Landrieu spoke on the issue stating, “Congress passed the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption believing that this action would pave the way for a more ethical, transparent and streamlined process for inter-country adoption… Sadly, several years later, it is clear that this decision was a tragic mistake. Instead of shoring up the process and providing support for sending countries, the State Department has twisted the intent of the treaty to close one country after another. The process has become far more cumbersome and far less transparent.”



It is no secret that international adoption is expensive for prospective adoptive parents, but the larger issue lies in the cost to adoption agencies to remain accredited in intercountry adoption.

Jayme Metzgar of The Federalist noted that the issue goes straight to the regulations of the State Department and their interjection as the only accrediting entity, or AE, after the Council on Accreditation removed itself from adoption accreditation because what they felt was a “back-door effort” to implement regulations was previously revoked.

The head of the COA, Richard Klarberg, spoke with Metzgar stating, “The Department of State . . . is requiring COA to make significant changes in the nature and scope of our work in ways which will fundamentally change our responsibilities . . . and which are inconsistent with COA’s philosophy and mission.”

In place of the COA, the International Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME) came. Metzgar also spoke with Lucy Armisted of All Blessing International who spoke of the changes stating, “The biggest shock came February 1, when the State Department released the fee schedule for its brand-new AE (Accrediting Entity). Under the new organization, International Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME), adoption agencies’ fees will skyrocket. Armistead estimates that her agency’s fees, which cost $15,500 for four years under COA, will be a staggering $140,000 under IAAME—an increase of more than 800 percent.”

As a previous Adoption.com publication notes, “The director of IAAME, the new Accrediting Entity, stated they are working under an assumption of only 4,200 intercountry adoptions in 2018. This is an 81% decline in international adoptions by Americans. If this trend line continues, international adoptions will completely end by 2022. The function of the Office of Children’s Issues (OCI) is to advance and promote legal and ethical intercountry adoption. Clearly, the OCI leadership has failed.” The publication further notes that “as a result of the epic failure of U.S. international adoption since 2004, up to 41,658 orphans will be forced into sex trafficking such as prostitution, up to 16,663 orphans will commit suicide, and up to 66,652 orphans will become homeless.”

The crisis created by the state department is a true threat to intercountry adoption for all Americans. It may very well end the ability for prospective adoptive parents to adopt internationally. Tragically, while the intercountry adoption numbers continue to decrease, the number of children who will die internationally awaiting homes that were ready and willing to accept them will also increase exponentially.