(NEW YORK) — The number of foreign children adopted by U.S. parents dropped almost 5 percent last year, continuing a steady decline that’s now extended for 12 years, according to new State Department figures.
However, department officials said they have been working closely with numerous countries to strengthen international adoption procedures, and they suggested the numbers could rise if the U.S. adoption community helped to address some of those countries’ concerns about ethics and oversight.
The department’s report for the 2016 fiscal year, released on Thursday, shows 5,372 adoptions from abroad, down from 5,648 in 2015 and more than 76 percent below the high of 22,884 in 2004. The number has fallen every year since then.
China, as is customary, accounted for the most children adopted in the U.S. Its total of 2,231 was down slightly from 2015 and far below a peak of 7,903 in 2005.
Congo was second on the list with 359 adoptions. Many of those were adoptions that had been delayed for several years during a suspension — now lifted — that the Congo government imposed out of concerns over adoption fraud.
Ukraine was third on the list with 303 adoptions, followed by South Korea, Bulgaria, India, Uganda, Ethiopia, Haiti and the Philippines.
As adoptions from various countries have declined in recent years, adoption advocates — and the State Department — have cited Africa as an area where adoptions may increase. However, Susan Jacobs, the department’s special adviser for children’s issues, said this can present unique challenges because some African birth parents may incorrectly believe that adopted children would return home to care for them after living abroad temporarily to get a good education.
For a second straight year, there were…