Parents are forced to look elsewhere

Peter Selman on how adoption across borders is in decline

The World Today
Published 9 February 2017 Updated 24 November 2020 3 minute READ

Peter Selman

Visiting Fellow at the School of Geography, Politics & Sociology, Newcastle University

Since 1946, at least a million children have moved to a foreign country to be adopted. Annual numbers increased rapidly in the 1970s and 1980s, and then doubled from 1993 to 2004. But the number fell by 70 per cent between 2004 and 2014.

The dramatic decline over the past decade raises the question of whether inter-country adoption has a future, and if not, what might take its place for childless couples in the traditional receiving states.

Throughout the period 2004-14, the United States has been the major receiving country, accounting for about half of all adoptions, followed by Italy, Spain, France and Canada.

Although the United States receives the largest numbers of inter-country adoptees, several other countries have a higher rate per head of population. In 2004, the highest were found in Norway, Spain, and Sweden; in 2013 in Italy, Sweden and Canada.

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