Many Americans who choose adoption as a means to start or grow their family look to adopt children from another country to give them the opportunities they could never have otherwise. Certainly, there are children in many parts of the world in need of a good home and loving parents.

However, the rate of international adoptions has dropped by over 76 percent between 2004 and 2016. In 2004, there were nearly 23,000 intercountry adoptions. Last year, there were fewer than 5,400.

China had the most U.S. adoptions last year. In second place, far behind, was Congo. That's a big change from the past when many Russian children were adopted by Americans. For the past two years, there have been no Russian adoptions due to that government's retaliation over U.S. actions regarding its human rights violations.

Illegal, Unethical Activities

Concerns over American adoption policies and fraud have been responsible for much of the drop in the last dozen years, however. According to the State Department, some countries have expressed concern about unethical and illegal practices by American adoption agencies and those who facilitate overseas adoptions.

Another concern has been a practice called "rehoming," where adoptive parents turn children over to others, sometimes because they have behavioral issues, without authorization. The laws against rehoming a child aren't consistent throughout the U.S. Yet another issue is the failure of some parents to complete the required follow-up reports after adoption.

Is the State Department Partly at Fault?

Some adoption advocates, such as the National Council of Adoption's Chief Executive Offer Chuck Johnson, blame the State Department for not taking sufficient action to deal with these issues and for what is seen as a general lack of support for international adoption. Johnson says that these illegal, unethical activities are engaged in by only a "'few providers' [and are not] indicative of the majority of accredited U.S. adoption providers."

Adoption is often one of the most rewarding experiences there is. However, it's rarely an easy one. It requires research, thought, planning, money and often a considerable amount of patience. If you are thinking about adopting a child from overseas, it's important to have the guidance of a family law attorney with experience in intercountry adoptions to help ease the process and prevent problems later on.