US State Department 2022 Adoption Report: No Mention of Deported International Adoptees, Nor of Birth Parents. Look at the The Fees!!

The U.S. State Department has issued its FY 2022 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption: Report of the Activities of the United States Central Authority under The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.

The report includes a discussion of the countries that the Office of Children’s Issues (CI) has visited or been in contact with, an overview of the situation in Ukraine, and tables of data.

The report contains no information on nor mention of the deportation of international adoptees from the United States, nor of the need for citizenship for all international adoptees. Nor is there any reference to international birth/first parents as participants in any calls, town halls, policy meetings, or any other place at the table.

There are two mentions of engagement with adult international adoptees, one in a town hall and one at a Special Commission event which is held every five years, “primarily focused on illicit practices and post-adoption services. Nearly 400 people participated in the Special Commission, including 73 member states, observers from non-governmental organizations, and adult adoptees.” The number of adult adoptees is not specified.

There is no mention of the fraud and corruption that many adoptees and adoptive families have encountered post-adoption, often in the course of search and reunion efforts. There is no mention of South Korea’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s review of possible fraudulent adoptions from South Korea to Denmark and several other countries, including the U.S. Nor is there any mention of the government inquiries into fraudulent international adoptions by Sweden, the Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland, Ireland, Chile, and elsewhere.

Photo description: the United States flag

Some highlights from the U.S. report:

Total adoptions in FY2022 to the U.S. : 1517

Top countries of origin:

  • Colombia 235 children
  • India 223 children
  • Republic of Korea 141children
  • Bulgaria 84 children
  • Ukraine. 82 children

Number of U.S. Children Adopted Internationally: 25 (The U.S. children were adopted to Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Switzerland.)

Median Adoption Service Provider (Adoption Agency) Fees:

Over US$50,000 for adoptions from Albania and Armenia

Between US$40,000 and US$50,000 for adoptions from Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Colombia, Costs Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Hait, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar Peru, Poland, South Africa, and Vietnam.

This means, for example, that U.S. adoptive parents paid US$9.6 million in adoption agency fees for children from Colombia; US$1.2 million for children from Burundi; and US$3.8 million for children from Haiti.

The role of money in adoption is horrifically complex. The U.S. adoptive parents are likely all eligible for the adoption tax credit, which has reimbursed adoptive parents with literally billions of dollars.

The role of money in adoption deserves much more research, attention, and conversation.

And this report deserves that as well, as much for what it says as for what it does not say. Feel free to share your thoughts about it.

Ethiopian Adoptions: An Eye-Opening, Jaw-Dropping Investigative Report

E.J. Graff has written a far-reaching, detailed, urgent investigative report on Ethiopian adoptions: “They Steal Babies, Don’t They?”

Many people, including me, have been extremely concerned about the role of fraud and corruption in adoptions in Ethiopia. For far too long, according to Graff, “orphans were ‘produced’ by unscrupulous middlemen who would persuade desperately poor, uneducated, often illiterate villagers whose culture had no concept of permanently severing biological ties to send their children away.” It is heartbreaking–for the children, for the Ethiopian parents, and for the adoptive parents.

This report is an “exclusive investigation of internal US State Department documents.” These adoption-related cables, emails, and other written material were requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

There is also “an alphabetized index of every U.S. adoption agency and Ethiopian orphanage that we found mentioned in these hundreds of pages. Each item…below the name of the agency or orphanage is a link to the FOIA-ed documents posted on our site. We realize that these are raw documents, out of context, and give only partial impressions of what some Embassy staff members were thinking at particular moments. To offer a fuller picture of what was happening, we asked every U.S adoption agency named in these documents whether they would like to submit a response that might clarify, correct, or comment on anything mentioned regarding their agency.” The agencies’ responses are available here.

Graff is ultimately optimistic about the future of Ethiopian adoptions, as a result of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, Uniform Accreditation Act which took effect in July 2014 as well as the Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR). We all want children who need safe, loving families to have them. If that happens through adoption, we all want the adoptions to be transparent and ethical–nothing short of complete integrity.

As the adoptive parent of twin daughters adopted from Ethiopia in 1994, and as a mother who met my daughters’ Ethiopian family in 2008, I know firsthand the role of inequity, economics, and heartache that adoptions can have. I also know the love and joy surrounding all of us, as we have been able to meet, talk, and learn. I am hopeful that many people–especially adoption agencies, government officials, prospective parents, adoptive parents, and Ethiopian adoptees around the globe–will read this. I am less confident that Ethiopian birth parents, marginalized and too often voiceless, will have their questions answered and their fears resolved, but that is their right, and only fair. And fairness is long overdue.

My thanks to E.J. Graff for her incredible efforts on this important article, and to the US State Department for its work to make adoptions more transparent. I applaud all those involved in adoption, in Ethiopia and around the world, who are genuinely committed to ensuring an ethical process that protects the rights of children and families.