Why Foreign Countries are Banning American Adoptions

Transnational adoptions have been an American tradition since World War II. Between 1948 and 1969, at least 50,000 orphans from abroad were brought to live with parents in the United States. When China and Russia opened up to the rest of the world in the 1990s, the numbers skyrocketed. By 2004, international adoptions worldwide hit an all-time high of 45,299 over the course of the year. The majority of those children ended up in the United States.

Since then, international adoptions have seen a sharp decline, despite high-profile adoptive celebrity parents like Madonna and Angelina Jolie. In fact, last year only 23,626 international adoptions were recorded by the U.S. State Department. Why? Well, it’s certainly not because there are fewer orphans worldwide needing homes, and it’s not because there aren’t willing parents looking for children.

The main reason international adoptions are plummeting is because many countries have made it increasingly difficult for foreign parents to adopt — some, like Russia, have  banned Americans from adopting entirely, while others, including China, have simply put very strict regulations into place which rule out many adoptive families. Vietnam, Ethiopia and Guatemala have all cracked down on U.S. adoptions in response to allegations of corruption and, in some cases, families being tricked or coerced into giving up their children.

While it might sting a little for American parents who believe they can truly provide a wonderful home for a child in need, when you do a little research on transnational adoption, it’s not difficult to see why other nations are becoming increasingly wary. A recent investigation by Reuters has found that hundreds of children adopted internationally have been offered up for “rehoming” on internet discussion groups after failing to bond with their new parents.

There are no official numbers on how frequently international adoptions fail, but some estimate that more than 24,000 children since 1990 have been given up by their adoptive parents — some of them signed over to new legal guardians without any government oversight. Often, these children end up in situations which are physically or sexually abusive. In one highly-publicized case from 2010, an American parent “returned” her adopted 7-year-old to Russia by putting him alone on a flight back to Moscow, accompanied by a typed letter explaining that she no longer wanted him.

So is the solution to these cases to cut off international adoptions completely? In its expose, Reuters explains that many adoptive parents aren’t trained to deal with the potential emotional and behavioral issues that can come along with adopting older children — and aren’t sure where to look for help. Maybe the answer is as simple as providing better education and resources for parents who adopt children from foreign countries, combined with stricter screening measures like those in China. Until those measures are put into place, it’s easy to understand why other countries might continue to be uncertain about sending their orphans to the United States.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Lynne Miller
Lynne Miller3 years ago

I recently read "Finding Fernanda," an eye-opening look at the corrupt system of adoption in Guatemala. Foreign countries should make it harder for Americans to adopt children. There are plenty of shady characters connected to adoption who see it as a way to make money. They prey on birth mothers and prospective adoptive parents. Whether they're interested in adopting children here or abroad, potential parents need to screen adoption agencies to make sure they're dealing with ethical professionals. Not all adoption providers are trustworthy.

Elizabeth F.
Elizabeth F4 years ago

good info

Don Swanz
Don Swanz4 years ago


My bride and I watch just two (2) reality shows: Master Chef and Hell's Kitchen. I will not go into why we watch these two (2) shows at this time. I'll save that for another day.

In any case, we watched the first show of "Master Chef: Junior Edition" and were continuously amazed and absolutely and totally blown away by the talent and abilities exhibited by the 8 to 13 year old participants.

How about cooking calamari, molten lava cake, pasta, ravioli - to name a few of the dishes that were prepared - all from scratch and in an hour.

In any case, if you as parents, grand parents, great grand parents or aunts and uncles have any little ones who are interested in cooking; then this is not only the show for you; but an absolute must for the little ones. And, if you don't have any little ones, you should watch it any way.

You will not be disappointed.

Don ​and I CAN!​ :-))

Becky Sillasen
4 years ago

thanks for sharing!

Alina Kanaski
Alina Kanaski4 years ago

Thanks for sharing--so interesting!

sandra j.
sandra j4 years ago


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

America has enough homeless unwanted children.. lets reign in our own before we tackle all the others?

Elizabeth F.
Elizabeth F4 years ago


Mina X.
Past Member 4 years ago

It is about time that countries stop letting their children be shipped off to america. No child should have to endure losing their family, homeland, culture, language, traditions, etc. all in one swoop. Isn't adoption traumatic enough in and of itself?
Countries should be working towards helping these women keep their children within their families of origin. Offering services, educational programs, parenting classes, family involvement, etc. would be a place to start.
International adoption is NEVER the answer...

Kanako I.
Kanako I4 years ago

adoption of foreign children has appeared as an advertisement for Hollywood stars.

but it is true there are people who are genuinely willing to take responsibility for unfortunate children abroad, so not sure completely banning is necessary despite the large number of irresponsible parents.