Thursday, July 26, 2007

The number of adoptions by Americans has increased in six years, fueled by more adoptions of foster children and a near-doubling of adoptions of foreign-born children, the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) says in a publication.

Between 1996 and 2002, the total number of adoptions rose by 26.4 percent, from 119,766 to 151,332, NCFA said in its 504-page Adoption Factbook IV, released this week.

The bulk of these adoptions were domestic, and included a sizable increase in the number of children adopted from state foster care, said Thomas Atwood, president and chief executive of NCFA, a trade group for adoption agencies and other adoption organizations.

The 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act, which set timelines and incentives to expedite adoptions for foster children who need permanent homes, “certainly gets part of the credit” for increasing domestic adoptions, said Mr. Atwood. But “there’s also been an overall improvement in the commitment and attitude of the system towards promoting adoption.”

The number of international adoptions soared by 86 percent, from 11,303 in 1996 to 21,063 in 2002.

However, the number of domestic infant adoptions again declined, from 23,537 in 1996 to 22,291 in 2002, according to NCFA, which is the only organization that tracks infant adoptions state by state.

“We have set a goal for ourselves of reviving infant adoption in America,” said Mr. Atwood. “By that, we don’t mean persuading more women to choose adoption,” he said. Instead, the goal is “creating an environment where a woman can consider adoption freely, without fear, bias and misunderstanding.”

Other highlights in the Adoption Factbook IV, released in time for NCFA’s National Adoption Conference, which ends tomorrow:

c There were 17 infant adoptions per 1,000 abortions in 2002. This is a smaller rate than in 1996, when there were 19.4 adoptions per 1,000 abortions.

c Even though the number of births to unmarried women is rising, the rate of infant adoption placements by unmarried women fell: In 2002, there were 16.3 adoptions per 1,000 nonmarital births, down from 18.7 adoptions per 1,000 nonmarital births in 1996. This means less than 2 percent of unwed mothers chose adoption for their children.

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