Russia Shuts its Adoption Doors on America


The number of eligible children for Americans who want to adopt is has reached a record low as foreign countries such as Russia close their doors to adoption in the United States.

According to the State Department, adoptions by Americans peaked at nearly 23,000 in 2004 and fell to 9,319 in 2011. The number is expected to plunge even lower now that Russia, America’s third largest adoption source in the last five years, has announced that it will no longer allow Americans to adopt any more of its orphans.

“It’s been a cataclysmic implosion of intercountry adoption,” said Tom DiFilipo of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services. “It’s truly the children who are suffering,” he said, because countries that are accused of adoption fraud refuse to make changes and others are insisting that they can provide for their own.

Other large foreign countries such as China, Ethiopia and South Korea are prompting some prospective parents to look homeward. “A lot of families may switch to domestic,” said Jenny Pope of Buckner International, an adoption agency. Yet even that’s a growing challenge, because as single parenthood becomes more acceptable, she said “there are just not as many women placing their children for adoption.”

There are also fewer foster-care children available, because more are reunited with birth parents or adopted by relatives and foster parents. The overall number of kids in the system, 401,000 in 2011, has hit a 20-year record low. According to the U.S. Children’s Bureau, the number of children waiting to be adopted fell from 130,637 in 2003 to 104,236 in 2011. Their average age is 7 and they are a mix of races (28% black, 22% Hispanic and 40% white.)

The options are becoming fewer and fewer for families. They are traumatized by costly failed attempts to adopt abroad, and do not want to risk fostering a U.S. child only to lose guardianship later to the birth parents whose parental rights are restored. Surprisingly, chances to adopt from foster care are quite high.

Despite the fewer options, just as many Americans are as eager to adopt as ever. Advice: “Be prepared for a bumpier ride than 10 years ago.”

Article Source and Picture Source- USA Today


  1. The effects of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s law are heart-wrenching even before we consider the 46 pending adoptions he canceled. Russia banning American adoptions is seen as “a political retaliation against a U.S. law targeting Russian human rights abusers.” It is abundantly more clear, though, how the law hurts orphans. A large number of Russians are behind their President as a recent poll found that 56% are in support of the ban. According to the survey, they base their support for the ban on a popularized conception of the United States as a “violent, dangerous place.” Despite this view of America, cases concerning the mistreatment of adopted children are reportedly rare. “In truth, a child is far likelier to die of abuse or neglect in Russia than he or she is in the United States. Since 1998, tens of thousands of Russian children have been adopted into the U.S.; a total of 19 adoptive Russians have died. In Russia, 1,220 adoptive children died during a period of the same length.” The facts speak for themselves.

  2. I personally feel this is just another example of anti-Americanism that is becoming more and more rampant in certain countries. I thinking using Amanda’s statistic of 56% of the country behind Putin’s decision showcases this (Although this IS Russia and polls need to be looked at more carefully). Certain nations believe that the U.S. has too much influence around the world with the military, culture and social ideas being adopted elsewhere. Maybe parents in Russia or China would rather see their child, even though they are giving it up, be raised domestically as opposed to being shipped off to a country they deem “corrupt.” It is sad that innocent children need to be used as political bargaining chips.
    I also think that certain cultures feel that the people who may be adopting, such as single women or homosexual couples, are not fit to raise children. This may be a backlash more of culture than of politics. It is also disheartening that people who really want to raise a child in a loving home are facing more and more barriers to that goal.

  3. I believe that many good points have been raised as to the negative reasoning behind the bill. As mentioned by Ms. Zefi, the disturbing response by Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Jim McCarren, that the motivation behind President Putin signing the bill was in response to President Obama signing the Magnitsky Act on December 4, 2012 sheds a terrible light on the bargaining chips used in international politics. ( ).

    Russian government officials contend though that their bill is to protect adopted Russian children and they give examples of the abuse of adopted children at the hands of American parents. ( The Russian Foreign Ministry’s special representative for human rights, Konstantin Dolgov, also pointed out that the U.S. is one of two countries, the other being Somalia, that has not ratified the 1989 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and that, aside from the adoption ban, Russia’s bill nearly mirrors that of the U.S. As Ms. Zefi mentioned, 56% of Russians polled by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) about this new law supported it. (

    To clarify one important aspect though, all adoptions are not cancelled as has been headlined in all of the news. The U.S.-Russian Adoption Agreement enacted in November will allow all cases that have been approved by a court prior to the new year to be reviewed on a case by case basis until 2014. (

    My question is:
    Russia has a legitimate concern in the safety of their children. We do not like the steps that they have taken to fix the problem. Even so, its Russia’s problem to fix and, despite not having to, they will be reviewing all approved cases to ensure the safety of the child. Do we sanction Russia in order to pressure them to put in place a solution that the U.S. finds satisfactory or do we allow Russia to determine their own international adoption policies?

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