International adoption can be a daunting task

Nine out of 10 Americans believe adopting a child from another country is a meaningful way to make a difference in the world, but every year fewer families are able to complete the process of international adoption.Resolving that statistical discrepancy is at the core of a campaign by Chances for Children, a child welfare organization, to reform the system of intercountry adoption, said Craig Juntunen, child welfare advocate and founder of Chances for Children. "Most Americans believe putting an at-risk, orphaned child into a loving and attentive family is a very good thing to do," Juntunen said. "But because of systemic problems, fewer people are adopting every year." Chances for Children released the results of a survey Wednesday showing that 65 percent of Americans believe international adoption is on the rise. However, the stark reality is that intercountry adoptions to the U.S. are in a free-fall. And among those who have considered intercountry adoption, more than two-thirds say they have not acted because of red tape, high costs, and the overwhelming difficulty of the process, according to the survey, conducted by M4 Strategies of Costa Mesa. Because of these unnecessary barriers, the number of intercountry adoptions to the U.S. has fallen by about 45 percent from 2004 (22,990 adoptions) to 2009 (12,753), according to the U.S. State Department. Juntunen said the survey results demonstrate that international adoption has practically become discriminatory as problems in the system prohibit many American families from bringing a child into their homes. "These results prove what we have been saying all along," Juntunen said. "The system of intercountry adoption is in need of significant change. The frustration stems from not being able to put these families and children together in a sensible period of time and at a reasonable cost." The first of its kind in 13 years, the survey of 1,000 respondents indicates many Americans have a higher opinion of international adoption than some organizations which refer to adoption as a "last resort." The survey also found that: 93 percent of Americans have a favorable view of adoption; 48 percent of Americans report they have the physical space in their home to support another child; and, 53 percent believe parents who adopt a child tend to be more responsible parents than many parents with biological children. Those who have considered international adoption said they would be interested in visiting a single-source, first-step adoption web site featuring testimonials from recent adoptions, news about changes in national and international adoption law, and methods for submitting questions and receiving quick answers about adoption. "This survey underscores many strong viewpoints and perceptions about international adoption by the American public," Juntunen said. "These attitudes will help us form a positive movement to create sweeping change to the system."

********** Published: February 12, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 43