Adoptions: Overseas and from Foster Care

James Kenny, PhD's picture

Recent news stories (Atlantic Monthly, 12/2011) have documented abuses on adoptions from overseas, particularly from Guatemala and Ethiopia. Overseas adoptions have become a lucrative business for some, subject to fraud and corruption. Widespread stories from Guatemala surfaced of adoption brokers paying birthmothers to sell their children, lying to them about what an adoption meant, and even abducting children. Records were doctored to describe children as orphans when they actually had living parents. Skeptical adopting parents in the US have hired local persons to investigate, only to discover that investigators are threatened with jail and even with loss of life.

Private US adoptions, while better regulated here against fraud and corruption, have also become big business. Finding an infant through private sources is costly.

According to the most recent data (AFCARS, 6/11), 408,425 children are in foster care in the US. Of these, about 107,000 are available for adoption today. Adoptions from foster care are not only free from exorbitant fees, but may come with some form of subsidy. Foster parents who have cared for a child who becomes available for adoption know the joys and the problems. Seventy percent of foster children who are adopted are adopted by their foster parents. Why are so many children in need of a permanent home still waiting to be adopted? Is it because adoptions from foster care are not profitable?

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