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Outflow- the United States as an adoption “sending country,” (while adoption imports near 6 year low)

The adoption industry has such quaint terminology for the import and export of children via adoption.

Countries that primarily export children are labeled “sending countries.” Whereas countries where importing is the predominant mode are labeled “receiving countries.”

The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University has done a wonderful interactive map visually explaining such. (Please explore, country by country).


Where do babies come from….   …and where do they go?

The United States is largely an importer of other people’s children in inter-country adoptions. Yet as of late, the American import numbers, mirroring much of the U.S. economic downturn are nearing a six year low.

The number of U.S. foreign adoptions is near a six-year low due to greater barriers overseas and fewer orphans coming from a wealthier China, U.S. Special Adviser for Children’s Issues Susan Jacobs said.

Total adoptions to the U.S. fell last year to 12,753 and will “be somewhere in that ballpark” in 2010, Jacobs said in a telephone interview. “Domestic adoptions in China are on the rise and international adoptions are taking longer, so it’s harder to adopt there.”

Over the next decade, Ethiopia is set to surpass China as the biggest source of U.S. adoptions. The number of children adopted annually from Asia’s biggest economy has dropped to 3,000 from 7,900 over the past five years, State Department figures show. There were 2,277 Ethiopian children placed in American homes in 2009 compared with 442 in 2005, the data show.

After peaking in 2004, total U.S. adoptions began to drop as standards became more stringent and applications from countries such as Vietnam and Guatemala were suspended amid allegations of corruption and fraud. Processing adoptions from Nepal were the latest to be put on hold this year.

Adoptions from Russia, about 10 percent of the U.S. total, also declined. Russian authorities had threatened to suspend adoptions by U.S. citizens after the case earlier this year of a 7-year-old boy who was sent back alone to Moscow by his adoptive American mother.

This year’s numbers are due to be released later on this month.

The 2004 peak of 22,990 has now been nearly cut in half over the past six years.

Total Fiscal Year 2009 Adoption Statistics

This has left the adoption industry scrambling, consolidating, engaging in scams and fraud, and pushing “bargain basement” adoptions from African countries such as Ethiopia and Uganda, essentially a “two for the price of one” steal compared to prices from before the adoption market crash.

Yet even as  U.S. importation of children continues to make headlines and would be adopters jockey for position over what children are still available (yes, even as the industry works to manufacture “orphans” to meet that market demand) there still remains an unspoken other aspect of the American adoption market, the open secret that a small number of children are also exported from the U.S. each year for adoptions abroad.

It’s rare to find articles mentioning the child exports, but every so often you get lucky, all the more so in light of the perfect graphic that accompanies this short piece.

These outflow adoptions came to a total of 51 kids adopted by parents overseas in 2008-09.

Of that 65%, or 33 kids originated in Florida (“special needs” children were not included in the tally.)

The vast majority of the exported kids have landed into adoptions in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands has also been feeling the pinch as Chinese adoptions become more rare.

Map: Jeff Papa

One Response to “Outflow- the United States as an adoption “sending country,” (while adoption imports near 6 year low)”

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