The Foreign-Adoption Squeeze

Photo: Alamy

The new Russian ban on adoptions by U.S. citizens further shrank the supply of foreign adoptees, which is especially vexing for parents hoping to take in a child less than 1 year old. “Years ago, you could adopt a baby internationally,” says Stella Gilgur-Cook of Spence-Chapin adoption services. “Almost without exception, that’s no longer the case.” In 2001, Americans adopted 990 babies from Russia alone; ten years later, U.S. adoptions of foreign infants totaled just 1,442. Here, the top countries from which Americans adopted infants in 2011, the last year for which State Department figures are available.

1. Ethiopia
Prohibits gays and lesbians from adopting. Fees run roughly $15,000, not including the cost of two mandatory pre-adoption trips.
Infant adoptees in 2011: 448
Change from 2001: +1,393%

2. South Korea
Blocks adoptions by single parents and places quotas—which have been steadily decreasing—on all foreign adoptions. Since Korean adoptive parents prefer girls, more boys are available.
Infant adoptees in 2011: 280
Change from 2001: -84%

3. China
Disqualifies gay parents and people with severe facial deformation, blindness in either eye, and a BMI of 40 or more, according to the State Department. New bylaw allows single women to adopt special-needs children.
Infant adoptees in 2011: 278
Change from 2001: -88%

4. Taiwan
Like China, Taiwan has begun prioritizing domestic adoptions, leading some U.S. agencies to suspend their programs there.
Infant adoptees in 2011: 88
Change from 2001: +203%

5. Russia
Before the ban, fees ranged from $20,000 to $30,000 and prospective parents were required to take at least two trips there before they could adopt.
Infant adoptees in 2011: 58
Change from 2001: -94%

6. DemocraticRepublic ofCongo
Had virtually no adoptions to the U.S. until 2009.
Infant adoptees in 2011: 48
Change from 2001: N/A

7. Colombia
Single parents are barred from adopting children under 7, and fees can vary widely depending on the adoption agency.
Infant adoptees in 2011: 41
Change from 2001 -80%

8. Japan
Adoptive parents typically reside in Japan for the entire court process, which takes at least six months. Fees can reach $50,000.
Infant adoptees in 2011: 24
Change from 2001: -23%

9. Kazakhstan
Suspended foreign adoptions to the U.S. in August, though its Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims it’s only a pause.
Infant adoptees in 2011: 24
Change from 2001: -90%

10. Morocco
As of September, has given preference to Moroccan residents.
Infant adoptees in 2011: 24
Change from 2001: +1,100%

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The Foreign-Adoption Squeeze