When Emily and I adopted Anya from Russia in 1997, the process was much more simple. In fact, we did the entire thing ourselves. The dossier, INS papers, translation, everything. You would think in our modern age this process would become easier not harder with over 143 million orphans in the world. Not true. This new report released today proves it is becoming harder in places like China, Guatemala, Vietnam, and Kazakhstan.

Road to Foreign Adoption Becomes Harder
It seemed like a simple transaction when Tamara Lackey brought her adopted son from Ethiopia to Chapel Hill four years ago: The child had been living in a spartan orphanage, and Lackey was willing to provide a loving home. She filled out paperwork, and five months later her bright-eyed, smiling baby was home.
Hundreds of other families in North Carolina and around the country are discovering that it’s no longer so easy to take in the world’s neediest children.

Just as international adoption has become a mainstream way to build a family — helped by celebrity adoptions such as those of Angelina Jolie, who has children from Cambodia and Ethiopia — the practice is in crisis. Allegations of baby-selling haunt some countries, and some say international adoption’s popularity may be creating a worldwide backlash.

Adoptions have recently become difficult or impossible in China, Guatemala, Kazakhstan and Vietnam — four of the main countries that send orphans to the United States. Hundreds of adoptions are in limbo.

“Everything is so volatile right now,” said Gail Stern, founder of Chapel Hill-based Mandala Adoption Services, which arranges inter-country adoptions. “If you called me today and wanted to adopt a child, I would tell you to sit on it. We cannot in good conscience tell people that if they start today, things will be smooth.”

Concerns about corruption have previously halted adoptions from Romania and Cambodia. But Stern and other experts say they’ve rarely seen so many countries having problems at once. On Monday, Kazakhstan unexpectedly shut down adoptions with little explanation.

China, the largest sender of orphans, has recently scaled back its program so severely that couples might wait more than five years, said Diane Kunz, a Durham lawyer who founded the non-profit Center for Adoption Policy, which promotes adoption. The country now excludes prospective parents who are single, recently divorced, over 50, on antidepressants or overweight — restrictions that Kunz says ruled out about 60 percent of Americans looking for Chinese children.
Read the News Observer article here.

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