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Adoptions in the United States and Abroad

Each year approximately 123 million women become pregnant. Of these pregnancies, up to 87 million are estimated to be unplanned or unintended. In fact, it is estimated that 50% of all pregnancies in the United States each year are unplanned.

It should come as no surprise then that the rate of United States domestic adoption of infants is up. The National Council For Adoption, or NCFA, recently released a study entitled, “Adoption: By the Numbers.” The study revealed a slight increase of infant adoptions as of the year 2014. Interestingly, the same study also revealed that the number of United States Foster Adoptions increased by 2,924 from 2014 to 2015. This is hopeful and especially important information as it demonstrates a favorable trend in the adoptions of foster children. This reported increase in foster adoptions is so important because sadly, the number of children in foster care is increasing.

“Adoption: By the Numbers” revealed even more interesting and favorable information regarding United States adoptions. According to the study, the number of special needs adoptions doubled from 2007 to 2014. In 2007 the NCFA, (the only agency to track domestic adoptions since the US government stopped mandating states to report the number of adoptions in 1975), reported a special needs adoption percentage of 42.4. By 2014 that percentage jumped to 88.5, a considerable increase. It is important to note that the definition of “special needs” may not be what you think. The United States Foster System has a very specific definition of “special needs,” defined as: “not necessarily the customary understanding of special needs, including older children, sibling groups, children of minority backgrounds, and those with physical, mental, or emotional conditions.” While the 18,329 special needs adoptions in the year 2014 is an encouraging number, it is significantly lower than the 26,672 special needs adoptions in the kar” of 1992.

As of 2014 the most recent data from the United States State Department shows a 9% decrease in foreign adoptions (or 692 adoptions) by parents in the United States. This is the lowest international adoption figure since 1982, and a huge decrease since the 22,884 “Peak Year” number of overseas adoptions by parents in the United States in 2004. The State Department realizes these figures are discouraging and is currently researching how to reverse the decline. Unfortunately, The State Department does not yet have any prediction as to if and/or when inter-country adoption regulations may change, potentially reversing the sharp decrease.

We do have information from some countries regarding the decrease in international adoption. United States parents who chose international adoption adopted the most children from China in 2014, at 2,040 adoptions. This was a 10% decrease from the previous year, and a drastic drop from 2005 when 7,903 children from China were adopted by US parents. The decrease in international adoption from China may not be bad news though. China has recently focused its policy on curtailing the abandonment of children and has begun encouraging domestic adoption.
Ethiopia had the second highest number of international adoptions from United States parents, despite a drop of 852 adoptions from 2012 – 2014. There is good reason for the drop. Ethiopian officials have recently begun emphasizing the placement of abandoned children with relatives and domestic foster families. Additionally, officials have placed stricter guidelines and regulations on orphanages, to reduce/avoid adoption fraud.

Some countries have reported increases in international adoption. The Ukraine, Haiti, and South Korea all reported an increase of adoption by US parents.