On November 16, the Washington Post reported that Foreign adoptions by Americans decline again, to lowest levels since 1994.
“The number of foreign children adopted by Americans fell by 15 percent last year, reaching the lowest level since 1994 due largely to sharp cutbacks by China and Ethiopia, sources of most adoptees in recent years.
“Figures released Tuesday by the State Department for the 2011 fiscal year showed 9,320 adoptions from abroad, down from 11,059 in 2010 and down nearly 60 percent from the all-time peak of 22,884 in 2004.
“Guatemala accounted for 4,123 adoptions by Americans in 2008, the most of any country that year. But the number sank to only 32 last year as the Central American nation’s fraud-riddled adoption industry was shut down while authorities drafted reforms.”
If you’re reading this blog, you probably know that adoptions from Guatemala closed in December 2007; the 32 cases finalized in 2011 have been in process since then.
An article published yesterday by NPR, Fewer Babies Available for Adoption by U.S. Parents, quotes Susan Jacobs, the State Department’s special adviser for children’s issues:
“What we see is a country becoming fashionable. People go to the countries where it’s easiest to adopt, where the rules are lax and you can do an adoption quickly and perhaps get a baby.”
In my opinion, the key part of Jacobs’ statement is “people go to where… the rules are lax.” History has proven that the rules must not be “lax.” The rules must be ironclad, and enforceable. Again, from the NPR article:
“That’s why the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption is important, Jacobs says. The international accord, drafted in 1993 and implemented by the U.S. in 2008, is meant to regulate a formerly wide-open international adoption marketplace.”
The fact is that a country’s adoption system can be only as ethical and transparent as that country’s government determines it must be. Like any industry that involves money, adoption must be closely monitored and regulated, and participants who break the law must be prosecuted. Otherwise, stories like these will repeat again and again, until the total number of adoptions plummets to zero.