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Is International Adoption Slowly Dying? Thoughts from the JCICS Conference

Last week, I was able to attend and speak at a conference in Baltimore, sponsored by the Joint Council for International Children’s Services (JCICS).  JCICS is a membership-based advocacy organization for orphaned children around the world.  During this conference, I was able to hear presentations by agency representatives, international adoption doctors, government advocates on international adoption, and a young man who had been orphaned.  As I met these people, I was struck by how kind they are and how much they genuinely care about children.

Getting to meet so many of the adoption agency staff with whom we have worked was so inspiring.  Each was so passionate about placing the waiting children on China’s shared list. Currently, there are more than 1600 children with medical needs who now wait for a family.  Most people don’t understand that adoptions from China aren’t slowing for children with a special need.  There are so many children waiting every day who would love a family of their own.

I spoke about the challenges of medical care for orphans in China, sharing with agencies and adoptive parents the struggles we have helping children with medical needs and what potential issues that adoptive families might face.  Because of pollution, birth defects are rising in China, and as a result, many children end up in orphanages.  There are many issues that arise with the care of children with medical needs.  Our goal is to be able to help Chinese orphanages care for these children in the best way possible and then advocate for their adoption.  Every one of those children on the shared list is a beautiful child just waiting to be loved.

One of the more sobering things about attending the conference, however, was hearing how many adoption agencies have had to shut their doors due to a decrease in international adoption.  Membership in JCICS has dropped by over 60 members this year and over the past three years, international adoption has dropped by half the number of children.  Tom DiFilipo, President & Chief Executive Officer of JCICS, cautioned that within five years, international adoptions could drop below 5,000 children a year and there may be only be five international adoption agencies left.  Some very large organizations are actually completely against international adoption.

What are you feeling about the decrease in international adoption?   Are you planning to do anything to help preserve international adoption?  Are you planning to do anything to help any of the true orphans who need families around the world?  Because of the slow down in international adoption, do you think more people might consider domestic adoption?  Please join the conversation and let us know your thoughts!

Karen Maunu is the Associate Executive Director for Love Without Boundaries. She lives in Minnesota and has five children, two of whom are from China.

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  • alice says:

    I have three children adopted internationally. Doctors have told us our son would surely have died if he had not been adopted. He had an undiagnosed medical problem that required emergency care. So he would have been better off dead in his home country than alive and thriving here in my home? He’s nine now. He is a joy to everyone who knows him and he is certainly glad he was adopted. The attitude that abortion is a solution for child abandonment is sickening, and the idea that these children will all be adopted in their home countries is naive.

  • Tracie says:

    If there were no longer a need for international adoption then that would be one thing. However, large organizations aren’t the ones wasting away in hell hole orphanages now are they? I don’t think the need could be greater, and international adoption is an awesome chance for children to be matched with the families that EVERY child deserves.

  • ptaj80 says:

    I think the requerements are being more and more selective. This way less and less people are able to adopt from other countries.
    My husband and I would love to adopt children from China but we don;t meet one of the requirements we can’t even try to apply.
    Plus, there are group opposing international adoption which i think is very silly in a world where we are becoming “global”.

  • Tori says:

    My husband and I are saving money to adopt internationally. We have been involved in the juvenile “justice” system domestically and my husband will not again consider adopting domestically. However, international adoption is SO expensive there is no telling if it will be around by the time we save the money to adopt.

    I am a HUGE supporter of international adoption, as well as domestic adoption. As long as there are children without parents, living in orphanages, and on the streets I believe we are obligated to do something about this horrific crisis.

  • Veronika says:

    Yes, I think international adoption is dying, but not because there is less of a need for international adoption. I think it’s because of the big international organisations who are opposed to international adoption and will do anything to abolish it. The organisations claiming to care for the children, but will do anything to make the adoption of those children impossible. While it sounds so good on paper to cry about children being removed from their culture, what does growing up in their culture help if they’re prostitutes on the streets or get caught up in trafficing rings? People who adopt from overseas usually go to a great deal of trouble to preserve their children’s culture and I dare say those adopted children will get greater exposure to their ethnic culture than those having to prostitute themselves to survive. I know there are adoptees who oppose international adoption because of their own feelings and experiences, but who are they to decide that everyone feels the same and there should not be international adoption? Have they ever given thought to what their lives would have been if they were not adopted? You would not have grown up with your biological parents, no matter how much you would like to believe that it was the alternative to adoption. You would have most probably grown up in a culture where there is not much love or opportunity for those who grow up as orphans. Recognise that international adoption is a GREAT option for TRUE orphans, children who would have grown up in orphanages with no other alternatives, not children who are bought and sold to fill demand. Recognise that millions of children are going without things you have every day – love, care, family – just so some can take the moral high ground. And abortion is not the answer to children living in orphanges. Those children has AS MUCH right to live and be loved as those who see slaughtering them before birth as a solution to their circumstances.

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