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.