Foreign adoptions by US families drop by more than a quarter

David Crary, Ap National Writer Updated 2:40 pm CDT, Wednesday, May 6, 2020

NEW YORK (AP) — The number of foreign children adopted by U.S. parents fell by more than one-quarter last year, extending a 15-year decline, according to State Department figures released Wednesday.

Sharp drops in adoptions from China and Ethiopia more than offset increases from Ukraine, Liberia and elsewhere.

In the 2019 budget year, there were 2,971 adoptions from abroad, compared with 4,059 in 2018 and a high of 22,884 in 2004. The number has dropped every year since then, even as American families continue to account for roughly half of all international adoptions worldwide.

China, as has been the case for several years, accounted for the most children adopted by American parents. But the total of 819 was down from 1,475 in 2018 and far below a peak of 7,903 in 2005.

The State Department has attributed the steady decrease in adoptions from China to an improved Chinese economy and expansion of domestic adoption, as well as laws restricting activities by foreign adoption agencies and other nongovernmental organizations.

There were only 11 adoptions from Ethiopia last year, compared with 177 in 2018 and a high of 313 in 2017, when the African country was No. 2 on the list. Ethiopia imposed a ban on foreign adoptions in 2018, citing concerns about the well-being of adopted children and improprieties by adoption agencies.

After China, the most adoptions last year were 298 from Ukraine, an increase of 50 from 2018. There were 244 adoptions from Colombia, 241 from India, and 166 from South Korea.

Adoptions from Liberia rose from 30 to 51.

For a fifth straight year, there were no adoptions from Russia, which once accounted for hundreds of U.S. adoptions annually but imposed a ban that fully took effect in 2014. The ban served as retaliation for a U.S. law targeting alleged Russian human-rights violators.

According to the new report, 56 children were adopted from the United States to nine foreign countries, including 24 to Canada and 17 to the Netherlands.