September 18, 2013 @ 1:50 PM


By staff


An interesting story was recently provided by CNN, detailing the growing trend of American children being adopted overseas via international adoption. Usually our concept of foreign adoption is by Americans adopting a child from overseas. Interestingly, however, while international adoptions by Americans has declined by more than 50% in recent years, adoptions of American children by foreign citizens have started to rise. Just ten years ago, the numbers were so small, such adoption virtually did not even exist.


Compiling statistics is somewhat tricky, as the U.S. government only tracks adoptions done by Hague Convention providers. (This is an international treaty which only permits adoptions by approved providers, usually adoption agencies but sometimes adoption attorneys.) There are many adoptions still taking place by non-Hague providers, however, due to that fact that the Hague Convention only applies when both countries involved in the adoption are “Hague countries.” So independent adoptions, usually outside of the Hague Convention, are often not categorized and we need to look to the other countries’ statistics to learn the accurate numbers.


In 2010, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Ireland - in that order - reported 205 children born in the United States, and adopted overseas. There are several unique factors leading to the international adoption of American children, rather than from other countries as would be expected, such as from third-world nations where there are certainly many parentless children living under difficult circumstances.


One key factor is the child’s health. One of the many reasons international adoption has declined in America, and those adopting parents electing to focus more on in-country independent adoption or agency adoption, is the health of the children, and the accuracy of the child’s medical records. A common complaint of Americans adopting overseas has been that medical records are inaccurate or lacking in needed information. Also, many foreign countries are now only releasing children for adoption for international adoption when those children have special needs.


In America, however, although there are not enough newborns to satisfy the adoption desires by our huge population of couples facing infertility, there are hundreds of thousands of children in our foster care system. Many adoptive parents in America decline to adopt these children, instead focusing on newborn adoption via independent adoption, or private adoption agencies. Often cited reasons are fears over emotional issues faced by the child after spending time in foster care, and the child’s ethnicity not matching the desires of the adoptive family. A large percentage of the children in foster care are African American, and the majority of American adopting parents, both in independent adoption and agency adoption, desire to adopt Caucasian, Hispanic or Asian children.


As reported by CNN, a Florida resident, birth mother Susan (who is Caucasian - and the birth father African American), when electing to find adoptive parents, chose a couple from the Netherlands. Susan’s reasoning was as follows: “There’s too much prejudice over here. The white people are going to hate him because he’s half black, and the majority of black people are going to hate on him because he’s half white.” While some may not agree with her sentiment, the point is those are her feelings which led to selecting a foreign family. And as a reality, the statistical reality of the large number of African American children awaiting homes in foster care is telling.


Another reason many foreign adoptive parents adopt from America is our more flexible approval of adoptive parents. Many countries will not permit adoption if the adopting parent is single, or more commonly, if the couple is gay. This leaves the United States as one of the few countries permitting adoption satisfying the adoption needs of those adoptive parents. Michael Goldstein, a New York adoption attorney who assists in many international adoptions, commented: “Bluntly, the U.S. is probably the only country that will allow a gay couple to adopt a child. So the gay families of the world, when they can’t adopt in their own countries or don’t want to necessarily, and want to adopt a baby, they’re going to turn to the U.S.”


Canada has been the most popular destination for children adopted from the United States (148 in 2010), and the Netherlands second most popular (bout 250 children placed between 2004 and 2010).


Open adoption is also very common in these international adoptions, as compared to international adoptions where the child is coming to the United States, which are almost always completely closed. Traditionally, independent adoptions were always open adoptions, and private agencies soon followed that trend. Now it has expanded into international adoption, at least when the U.S. is the sending country. Quoting Indiana adoption attorney, Steven Kirsh, who is active in the field of international adoption, foreign families are usually more willing to have some level of openness than American families. This, in turn, makes those families more attractive to birth mothers selecting adoptive families. Kirsh said, “The Dutch families would, for example, want the birth mother to help name the child, because they wanted the child to have that connection with the birth mother. Almost never does an American family do that.”


Indications are that these international adoptions of American children by foreign citizens will only grow, and most likely quite quickly. The benefits are there for everyone in the adoption triad: the birth parents are content; the adoptive parents have a child; and the child has a family, as opposed to foster care.


Original reporting for CNN provided by Sophie Brown. To read the entire article, including photos of some of the children adopted with their Dutch families, please visit: