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Family Helper releases the 5th edition of
    "Canadian Guide to Intercountry Adoption"

Options shrink in international adoption; 
countries stress domestic placement

Family Helper editor

(Oct. 28, 2006)  Options are shrinking for Canadians wishing to adopt children from abroad ... there are fewer countries open and many give preference to domestic adopters.

The options are laid out in the fifth edition of the Canadian Guide to Intercountry Adoption,, just published by Family Helper.

In the Guide, author Robin Hilborn paints a portrait of international adoption in flux -- countries are open one year, then closed the next. Overall, adoptions to Canada have been heading downward, albeit slowly, from 2003's recent high -- 2003: 2,181;  2004: 1,955;  2005: 1,871.

With so many countries currently closed, or processing files slowly, the Guide concludes that Canadians would do best to choose among seven countries: China, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Russia, Taiwan and U.S. (Conditions in each country are summarized in Country Survey, 2006.)

Behind the trend of shrinking options is an unexpected reason: not enough children available for adoption, or (the other side of the coin) too many applications from would-be adoptive parents.

Orphanages remain as full as ever, but countries are making an effort to find local homes for their children. They are encouraging domestic adoption, not least because the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption says that a signatory country must look for adopting homes in the child's home country before allowing overseas adoption.

So, for example, a Bulgarian child is eligible for intercountry adoption only after three domestic families have declined to adopt him -- applications from abroad exceed the number of children available by ten to one. Ukraine is not taking any foreign applications until 2007; in October 2006 the Minister for Family, Youth and Sports released his draft National Action Plan on child protection which includes plans for smaller orphanages (at most 50 children each) and makes domestic adoptions easier.

Even popular China, choice of 52% of Canadian international adopters, shows signs of slowing down: the number of applications is building but the number of available children is not. The China Center for Adoption Affairs is taking longer, 10-11 months in 2006 (vs. six months in 2005), to match children with prospective parents. (For much more on China, see the Family Helper publication We Adopted From China,

The Guide to Intercountry Adoption quotes Douglas Chalke of Sunrise Family Services Society in Vancouver, who warned that international adopters have to be more flexible: ready to accept a longer process and a choice of children available for adoption who tend to be older or have special needs and challenges (i.e. harder to place domestically).

"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," Mr. Chalke said.

The fifth edition of the Canadian Guide to Intercountry Adoption features:

* A portrait of the trends in intercountry adoption, and a forecast of what's to come.
* "Country Roundup" of 24 countries: status, rules and process in each.
* Weighing the advantages of different countries: the "Choice Seven".
* Getting a homestudy.
* Choosing an adoption agency best suited to you.
* Cost of adopting from various countries. There is even more about cost in Family Helper's "Adoption and Money",

You can read the introduction to the fifth edition.


Country Survey: status and history of adoption in 24 countries
Country-specific Resources (in Adoption Resource Central)
Statistics for Canada: international adoptions by year and country
Canadian Guide to Intercountry Adoption, 5th ed., 2006, ISBN 0-9733470-8-2

You may reprint this item with the credit:
"From Family Helper,"

Country News is written by Robin Hilborn,
author of Family Helper,



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Contact: Robin Hilborn,
Box 1353, Southampton, Ont. N0H 2L0 Canada
Copyright 2009 Robin R. Hilborn
Updated Oct. 28, 2006

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