A recent report by the State Department has shown an 80 percent decline in international adoptions since 2004. There is much speculation as to the cause, but many attribute it to simple politics. The truth is that there are countless factors involved. Even though there are plenty of families in the U.S. who are willing to open their hearts and homes to potential international adoptees, the opportunity to adopt internationally is steadily falling.
In December 2012, the Russian government banned adoptions to the U.S. just two weeks after our government imposed sanctions on some Russian officials. Earlier this year Ethiopia halted adoptions by foreign countries out of concern for child welfare. It came as the result of high profile abuse and neglect cases of international adoptees. South Korea temporarily banned adoption by foreign countries likely because of a remark made by a sports commentator about the country exporting children. Romania, Guatemala, and Kazakhstan have also banned or reduced adoptions by the U.S.
Some governments claim they want to keep the children in their home country for cultural reasons or to keep them safe. Others disagree with that reasoning saying that out of 60,000 adoptees from Russia, 19 died from abuse or neglect, which is a much smaller number than it would have been in their home country.
One argument holds the Hague Convention accountable. It’s supposed to encourage successful adoptions, but may have unreachable standards by the poorest of countries. Rising fees may share the blame. In February, the State Department issued changes to the accrediting entity (AE) fee structure under which agencies will see almost an 800 percent rise annually in accrediting fees. The new International Adoption Accreditation & Maintenance Entity (IAAME) will be charging a new $500 fee for each adoption. Also, fees that have been waived or paired together for sibling groups in the past will no longer be discounted.
Now is the time to step up for international adoption. Whether you are an international adoptee, hopeful adoptive parent, or simply want to see the much-needed change in international adoption, your voice can make a difference.