Richard Drew/AP
Steve Curtis and his 2-year-old daughter Amelia play with soap bubbles in the backyard of
their Babylon, N.Y. home on Long Island. The Curtis family is trying to adopt a second
daughter from China.

Despite Decline in Adoption Rates, Adoptive Parents Give Back

January 06, 2009 10:29 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
Adoptive parents are forming organizations that give back to their children’s home countries, but restrictions in China and Guatemala have led to fewer adoptions over the past year.

Adopting a Child and a Country

American adoptive parents are giving back to their children’s home countries, forming organizations that provide food and toys, and fund medical and veterinary care in impoverished areas of Guatemala and China. But numbers show that there have been fewer adoptions in the United States over the past year due to corruption and the cost of the adoption process. New restrictions in Guatemala will further limit opportunities for adoptive parents.

But the adoption decline has not impacted the voluntary efforts of adoptive parents.

In December, approximately 25 American volunteers traveled to Panajachel, Guatemala, to work with the Mayan Families organization, which serves indigenous populations. Several of the women on the service trip formed their own organization, Helping Mayan Families, which recently collected more than $30,000 in supplies for poor families in Guatemala, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

Julie Hubbard of Kennett Square, Pa., has an adopted son from Guatemala. She joined Helping Mayan Families in giving back to her son’s native country. Hubbard told Delaware newspaper The News Journal, “I didn’t adopt Leo out of charity … You’re getting so much more than you’re giving.”

Similar efforts have taken place in China, where adoptive families from overseas have created “networks and associations” that work to enhance and improve life for orphaned Chinese children, according to China Development Brief.

Adopted children are also making efforts to help their home countries, reports The Boston Globe. Three 16-year-old Chinese girls journeyed back to China last summer to volunteer in the same orphanage they’d been brought to as infants, spending two weeks giving children lessons in English language, swimming and dance.

Background: Adoption in Guatemala

According to the Associated Press, Americans adopted 12 percent fewer children in 2008, “the lowest level since 1999.” Tightened restrictions on the adoption process and “allegations of adoption fraud” in various countries contributed to the decline, the AP reported.

Although Guatemala surpassed China as “the leading source for international adoptions” in 2008, that is expected to change; U.S. officials have instituted a “corruption-related moratorium on new adoptions” from Guatemala, according to the Associated Press.

In Guatemala, an illegal baby trade has thrived for years. In response, the Guatemalan government reviewed all current adoption cases last summer, but the baby trade is an international problem.

A September 2007 report on NPR discussed the “big business” of babies in Guatemala.

Related: Transracial adoption in the United States

Reference: International Adoption Guide


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