Simple Economics: No Supply? Bigger Demand

So, this past week there have been numerous articles highlighting the "crisis" of international adoption. Although most every article includes some version of "the kids are the ones who suffer," most of the article titles usually highlight how prospective adoptive parents are suffering.

From Newsweek comes the fear-mongering headline, Who Will Fill the Empty Cribs?

After decades of nonstop growth, the international adoption
mill has begun to stall. Driven by rising affluence, falling birthrates
and resurgent national pride, many developing nations are much less
willing to let their orphans go abroad. Not only can these nations
increasingly afford to care for orphans at home, but they have been
spooked by highly publicized international baby-selling scandals into
tightening rules. Countries as diverse as South Korea, Russia,
Kenya and Brazil now openly discourage foreign adoptions. As a result,
intercountry adoptions have plunged 10 percent in the top five
receiving nations—the U.S, Spain, France, Italy and Canada—since the
high point in 2004, when 45,288 children were adopted internationally.


"Supplies are dwindling from countries that have traditionally provided
the majority of children for international adoptions. The number of
Chinese children adopted by the top five receiving nations dropped from
a peak of 14,493 in 2005 to 10,743 in 2006; in Russia the number has
fallen from 5,829 to 2,781 since 2004. "Russian society is back on its
feet both economically and morally," says Elena Afanasyeva, a Duma
deputy and member of the Committee on Women and Family. "We are now
capable of taking care of our orphans." In China the number of adoption
applications now exceeds the country’s ability to process them. As a
result, authorities have gotten much more choosy about who can adopt,
excluding applicants who may be single, obese, taking antidepressants
or over 50, among other things. Other source nations have implemented
new restrictions to deter outsiders from adopting: South Africa now
demands foreigners spend at least five years on native soil before
adopting, and Tanzania three years. Moscow
temporarily halted its international adoption program last year, partly
in response to reports that 14 Russian children had been killed by
their foreign adoptive parents since the 1990s." (Read the whole article here)

Other articles:

Families stranded awaiting kids from foreign countries (Thanks to Ed)

Bursting the China Bubble (thanks to Alison)

New Rules and Economy Strain Adoption Agencies

Americans find it harder to adopt

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

3 thoughts

  1. THUD
    That’s the sound of my jaw dropping to the floor when I read this in the first of the additional articles:
    “In 2006, with their son Quinn, 2, dying from a degenerative neurological disorder, the Paulsons decided to adopt a third child. Their first-born, a boy, now 6, would be lonely without his brother, they reasoned. And so would they.”
    Speechless. Just speechless.

  2. I don’t like how that article refers to the “supply” of children and countries “Providing” children. It makes adoption sound sort of dirty, doesn’t it?

  3. Nicki, you might be interested in reading Kim Park Nelson’s article in Outsiders Within, entitled “Shopping for Children in the International Marketplace.” The language of supply & demand is, unfortunately, part of the ethical world of adoption as it is currently practiced. Nelson makes us face that reality–which may not be “dirty” but it is why adoption today is always haunted by the issues of child stealing and baby selling.

Leave a Reply to Lori Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s