The Changing World of Adoption

The Changing World of Adoption

By Sue Shellenbarger

This blog often explores family issues — and a growing number of families now
include adopted members. But as adoptions have become more accepted,  the
stories that grab headlines usually involve celebrity
parents like Madonna
, or train wrecks such as the adoptive
who returned her child to Russia last year.

A new book offers solid information that is often missing from the headlines
— including facts about the impact of the Internet on adoption, the decline
in international adoptions
and the rise in foster-care adoptions.

In an updated edition of “Adoption
,”  Adam Pertman, executive
director of the nonprofit Evan B. Donaldson Adoption
and an adoptive father himself, shows how patterns of adoption in
the U.S. have turned upside down. Once-hot international adoptions have slowed
amid rising nationalism, efforts to keep children with biological parents and
fears of corruption, he writes. After peaking at 22,884 adoptions in 2004, U.S.
adoptions of children from other countries fell 44% to 12,753 in 2009.
Meanwhile, adoptions of foster children rose 53% to 55,000 in 2008 from 36,000 a
decade earlier, amid policy changes and increased demand by parents. The
website,, is an
excellent resource on foster-care adoptions.

The Internet, of course, is having a vast impact. Even though 29 states have
laws that limit or regulate advertising adoption placements, cyberspace is
brimming with ads looking for pregnant women who might be willing to give up
their babies for adoption, Pertman writes. And while some adoption agencies are
ambivalent about posting information about children online, most see the
Internet as the most powerful tool they have ever had for connecting children
with wannabe parents.  (The book also explores the dark side of online
activities. Some websites offer prospective parents who sign up with an adoption
agency instructions on persuading ambivalent pregnant women to relinquish their
children, Pertman writes.)

The internet also is making it easier for adoptees to find birth parents. A
growing number of adoptive parents keep up regular contact with birth parents,
exchanging Christmas gifts and acting like relatives, writes Pertman, who also
describes his own efforts to keep his two adopted children in touch with their
birth parents. The potential benefits are significant, he writes — diminishing
angst among birth parents, easing personal insecurities for adoptive parents,
and providing both parents and adoptees with information needed for good
parenting and medical care.

More resources on adoption
can be found at the website of
the National Council for Adoption, an advocacy group. (We have also posted
before here and here
on juggling adoption and a job.)

Readers, have you or anyone you know tried to complete an adoption? What has
that experience been like? Have you noticed increased difficulties or any
changes in adoption? Do you know of any valuable resources on adoption issues?

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