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ADOPTION NEWS CENTRAL
Adoption slowdown in China starts the great decline of 2006
BY ROBIN HILBORN, Family Helper editor
(Aug. 25, 2007) It's official: a third year of decline in the numbers marks the start of a new trend -- downward -- in international adoption in Canada.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada released the international adoption statistics for 2006 to the Adoption Council of Canada on Aug. 16, 2007.
They show that in 2006 Canadians adopted 1,535 children from abroad, a striking drop from the figure of 1,871 in 2005 -- down 18% in one year. This comes on the heels of two preceding years of decline, marking the end of a decade of stability.
Here is the trend since 1995:
1995: 2,010 1998: 2,222 2001: 1,874 2004: 1,955
At 1,535 children adopted from abroad, 2006 has finally fallen below the threshold of 1,800 a year which Family Helper has always quoted ("Intercountry adoptions to Canada have been stable for a decade, falling in the range of 1,800 to 2,200 a year").
A fall of 18% in one year bodes ill for the future of international adoption in Canada. Not only have numbers fallen now for three years, they look to continue on the downhill slope, primarily because of restrictions in China (see below).
The upshot for Canadians wishing to adopt from abroad is a longer wait to be matched with a child (for China the wait jumped from six months in 2005 to ten months in 2006), and a choice of children available for adoption who tend to be older or who have special needs and challenges.
Indeed, as options shrink in international adoption the quick and easy adoption from abroad is becoming a thing of the past. It's hard to avoid the pessimism of Douglas Chalke at Sunrise Adoption in North Vancouver, B.C.: "Five years ago I would not have predicted the extent to which countries around the world have shut down to adoption (or are in the process of doing so). Adoptions from China, as we know them, may not last much more than another decade."
Would-be adopters in the United States face the same sombre prospects as Canadians. According to the Children's Bureau at DHHS in Washington DC, in "New Regulations May Impact Intercountry Adoptions", about 20,000 children a year are adopted from abroad by U.S. citizens. In 2006 U.S. families welcomed 6,493 Chinese, 3,706 Russian and 4,135 Guatemalan children. [Guatemala is not open to Canadians.] "However, recent developments in each of these countries may delay or restrict future adoptions by U.S. parents," says the Children's Bureau.
* China has now placed greater restrictions on families who adopt. New requirements regarding prospective parents' age, marital status, medical conditions, and more, went into effect on May 1, 2007. One restriction prohibits single-parent adoption. ["May 1: nine new adoption rules start in China"]
* Russia is now withholding approvals on adoptions, while it accredits U.S. adoption agencies. No U.S. adoption agency is currently [July 2007] accredited in Russia, and a new law requires five ministries to approve American agencies before U.S. families can bring home Russian children through those agencies.
* Guatemala. The State Dept. has serious problems with the oversight of adoption practices and does not recommend adopting from Guatemala. Adoptions will not be possible once the U.S. implements the Hague Convention.
Here are the top 25 countries in 2006, compared to 2005 and 2004:
China brought in its new rules specifically to slow down applications from foreigners to adopt Chinese children. China has narrowed the field of eligible adopters, shutting out single people and those morbidly obese or over 50 (unless you want a special needs child). However, the demand stays strong and some people may resort to extreme measures ("Man Resorts to Surgery to Adopt Child," AP, Aug. 25, 2007).
Five countries appear in the top 25 for the first time: Albania, Kazakhstan, Mexico, South Africa, Vietnam.
Five countries from 2005 didn't make the top 25 in 2006 (brackets give the figure for 2005): Congo (11), El Salvador (5), Ghana (15), Hong Kong (8), St. Vincent (5).
For the status of adoption in specific countries, and background, see Country News.
Articles by Douglas Chalke are in Heart of Adoption.