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.