United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund

Recent statistics from UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund) estimates 153 million orphans in the world currently with approximately 5,700 being added daily.) Of these, approximately half a million are in China, 17,000 in Korea and 20 million are estimated in India. Many of these children have been exposed to war, hunger and severe poverty. There are many reasons why children become orphans. Some are given up due to disaster, war, famine, poverty, or even social prejudice. Other influences include restrictions on the number of children allowed. In the Chinese culture female babies are frequently abandoned in favor of male babies. In America, there are estimates of up to 2 million couples or people waiting to adopt. These numbers are only the ones actively pursuing adoption. It is also estimated that as many as 81.5 million (or as many as 40% of Americans) have considered adoption at one time or another. Many people choose to try international adoptions because the wait time and costs may be better.

How can these two needs be reconciled? The straightforward answer would appear to encourage international adoption. During 2017, over 271,000 domestic adoptions took place. However, the US Department of State reports that in 2017 about 4,714 intercountry adoptions took place.

Why so few when so many wait to adopt? One answer may be that many of those orphans are not infants (two years or older), have been in the state care system since birth or have medical problems. But there are other reasons like government bureaucracies. Both domestic and foreign bureaucracies are creating a barrier to hinder adoptions. In researching foreign adoption policy, it becomes apparent that there is numerous overlap of state, federal and international bureaucracies. First, looking at the State of Texas requirements, we find that any adult over the age of 21, single or married, is eligible to adopt. International adoptions will have various requirements of the specific country of the child’s origin. Moving upward the US State Department regulates the immigrant visas required to bring foreign children into the country. However, internationally the 1993 Hague Convention further regulates adoption practices which impact many countries including the US. More recently Public Law 106-279 established additional responsibilities in the US State Department to ensure the processes of the Hague Convention are adhered to.

Trying to make International adoption easier is the goal. In order to adopt, as listed above, international adoption involves hundreds of hours in paperwork, court proceedings, tens of thousands of dollars, language barriers, and possible heartbreak. In order to make the international adoption process more efficient, there needs to be fewer cooks in the kitchen. There are currently four cooks: the US Federal Government, State government, International Government, and the Hague Convention (an international entity). All four of these have overlapping requirements for international adoption leading to unnecessary redundancy. An example of overlapping requirements is eligibility for potential parents. The parents must pass eligibility at every stop. So, in order to make the international adoption process more accessible one must eliminate the redundant regulations within the four entities.