Foreign Adoptions by Americans Continue to Decline

According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2014 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption, American adoption of foreign-born children is dramatically declining. The report, released last week, found that the number of foreign-born children adopted by American families has dropped to its lowest level since 1982. Americans adopted 6, 441 foreign-born children in 2014, which constitutes a greater than 9% reduction from the 7, 094 adoptions reported in 2013. The report’s findings indicate a 74% decline over the past ten years, when 22,991 foreign-born children were adopted in 2004.

Various adoption agencies surveyed in this Wall Street Journal article attribute the reduced numbers to several factors, including “policies meant to promote domestic adoption and foster care in countries such as Ethiopia; nationalist sentiment against adoption in emerging economies like China and South Korea; and increased U.S. scrutiny of some countries and individual cases.” For example, China recently began advocating for domestic adoption and instituting stringent qualifications for foreigners to adopt. Additionally, the U.S. discontinued adoptions in Cambodia and Guatemala due to “evidence of baby selling and document fraud.”

Another potential contribution to the steep decline is the improper implementation of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. The United States implemented the Convention in 2008. The Convention ensures that each intercountry adoption aligns with the best interests of the child and protects children from abduction, exploitation, and trafficking. According to the article, some countries, such as Cambodia, signed the Convention prior to creating procedures enabling their compliance.

Adoption advocacy organizations such as the National Council for Adoption (“NCFA”) note that despite the plummeting numbers, American interest in pursuing intercountry adoption has not decreased. In response to the Annual Report, the NCFA proposes that the U.S. create a new office to serve as the nation’s Central Authority (as mandated by the Convention). The NCFA contends that the present Central Authority, the Office of Children’s Issues in Consular Affairs, serves merely a regulatory role. The proposed new office would focus not only on maintaining ethical procedures, but would also place an emphasis on advocacy. According to the NCFA, this includes partnering with and supporting willing countries in upholding their children’s best interests in the realm of intercountry adoptions.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

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