Adoption Rates Have Been Declining – How Can We Reverse That Trend?

The Holt FamilyPhoto by David Faytinger, U.S. Air Force
More than 15 million children do not have parents. How do we incentivize couples to adopt these children?

There is hardly anything in this world that one is entitled to. Each of us is a human being that bears the image of God, and we all have a level of dignity that is far above that of the rest of the earth. Yet that fact does not automatically entitle us to certain things simply because we want them.

Despite the fact that there is not much that the world owes us, I contend that there is at least one thing the world owes to each person, to each child when he/she is born. It’s not education, or health care, or Internet, nor anything material. Rather, what every person in this world is entitled to is a family.

Most families are made by marriage and birth. When a man and a woman come together to form a new family unit by marriage, they will usually bring children into the world together. However, sometimes couples cannot have their own biological children, and sometimes there are children who don't have parents who want them. In such cases, the answer is adoption.

Adoption is a beautiful thing, where rather than a child “happening” (to use the term loosely) to a couple, they seek out a child to take in as their own. It is a challenging process, but the results of it can bring a good life to children who previously had no parents of their own.

Indeed, my wife is adopted, and she entered a family that cared incredibly well for her and taught her how to be an incredible woman.

In the early years of the 21st century, adoptions in America were on the rise. One of the reasons for the uptick can likely be attributed to a law signed by President George W. Bush that increased the tax credit for adoption from $5,000 to $10,000. The adoption process is lengthy and costly, and the tax credit enabled many more prospective parents to afford adoption.

Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute , and his wife, adopted a baby girl back in 2004, the peak year of adoptions. That year, there were 22,884 children adopted from overseas according to the State Department, and he hoped to see that number increase. However, the exact opposite happened.

The year we adopted turned out to be the high-water mark in foreign adoptions and the number has dropped ever since. By 2016 it had fallen 77 percent from its peak, to 5,372. This is the lowest total in three and half decades.

The drop is not from lack of children in need of parents. Indeed, there are over 15 million children across the globe who do not have parents. Many couples want to adopt these children, but they do not. Why is that?

One attributable cause is continuous government obstruction over the past decade. Both in the United States, and abroad, governments have enacted more stringent rules for adoption. In Russia, Vladimir Putin signed a heartless law into effect that bans U.S. citizens from adopting children from Russia. How incredibly cruel to children longing for a home.

The United States’ government is at fault for this as well, as Brooks notes:

Foreign adoption plunged all through the Obama administration as the State Department imposed new hurdles in the name of curbing abuses, which are a significant worry for parents adopting from some countries (although not China, where virtually all the children, like my daughter, were abandoned at birth).

What now shall we do? Several solutions could address this tragic problem. First is to contact our legislators, and urge them to enact policy that will not dissuade prospective parents from seeking to adopt.

If the cost and the time of the process is too burdensome, many will understandably not seek that option. Governments should not be seeking to unduly burden the process of family formation, for the family is the foundation of any civilized society.

Second, we can also donate some of our disposable income to adoption agencies. These organizations work with government agencies, orphanages, and prospective parents to facilitate adoptions. However, that requires a lot of time and money to do. Since undoing bureaucracy can often take years, this solution is a much more short-term approach to an issue that will require long-term efforts.

Many couples who have adopted can testify to the joy that comes with bringing home a family member, just as Brooks concludes about his own experience:

In truth, I don’t know or care what my daughter has done for my income or health. But my happiness? It spikes every time she looks at me and I remember the magic day we met.That’s something more dads, moms, and especially kids deserve in this unhappy world.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Have you had any experience with the adoption process? Share your thoughts with me!

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