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US agencies face strains amid adoption decline

Published:Sunday | April 30, 2017 | 3:16 PM

Adoption agencies face strains amid decline


For legions of Americans craving a chance to adopt children, a confluence of daunting trends makes this an especially distressing time.

The overall number of US adoptions have dropped significantly in recent years, straining the viability of many adoption agencies and drawing some into conduct that authorities describe as unethical or worse. Would-be adoptive parents confront the spectre of long waiting times and high fees. And many face pressure to spend lavishly on self-promotional advertising if they want to compete for a chance to adopt an infant.

Chuck Johnson, CEO of the National Council for Adoption, estimates that one million families are trying to adopt at any given time.

"No matter where they go, unless they're super lucky, they're going to be in for a long wait," Johnson said. "They're going to be in a slow, painful process for foster care or in this massive competition for the limited number of healthy infants - and that's where the situation is ripe for fraud. There are so many families who want to adopt, and so few options for them."

Inevitably, some of the people desperate to adopt fall victim to scams. In March, a woman from Carolina Beach, North Carolina, was accused of using the Internet to fleece a dozen would-be adoptive parents. In 2015, a Texas woman was sentenced to five years in federal prison for defrauding a Kansas couple out of $22,225; she falsely claimed she was pregnant and wanted to put her twins up for adoption.

In the absence of comprehensive federal figures, Johnson's council, which represents more than 120 adoption agencies, periodically tries to tally the total number of adoptions in the US Its latest count, released in February, showed a 17 per cent drop from 133,737 adoptions in 2007 to 110,373 in 2014.