Some adoption advocates worry that the negative developments will result in fewer adoptions — and thus consign more children to lives in foster care or foreign orphanages.
“The reality is that adoption is a vastly successful solution for nearly all of the children who find families,” said Chuck Johnson, president of the National Council for Adoption. “For someone to conclude falsely that adoption is not the worthwhile endeavor it is, then tens of thousands of children will suffer similar or worse fates than these.”
Some improvements are expected starting next July, when higher standards take effect for all U.S. adoption agencies that handle international adoptions. Among the many provisions of the Universal Accreditation Act is one requiring parents to receive training before the adoption to prepare them for future challenges.
The law does not specifically address post-adoption problems. Children adopted from abroad generally become U.S. citizens without delay, and thus it would be problematic to conduct any special tracking of them unless it was on a voluntary basis.
Though the State Department doesn’t have direct responsibility for international adoptions once they’re completed, Susan Jacobs expressed interest in working with others in the adoption field to improve support services.
“We need to help parents to find resources when they are having trouble ... so they don’t turn to the Internet to get rid of their kids,” she said. “This is a horrible practice that can only lead to abuse and neglect.”
During the pre-adoption process, Jacobs said, parents should be given accurate information about a child’s medical and psychological condition to minimize the chances of frustration later on.
“A lot of people say they have a heart for adoption. But you also have to have a head for it,” Jacobs said. “You think love will solve everything. It doesn’t.”