The number of foreign children adopted by US parents dropped by 9% last year to the lowest level since 1982, according to State Department figures.The department's report for the 2014 fiscal year shows 6,441 adoptions from abroad, down from 7,094 in 2013 and about 74% below the high of 22,884 in 2004. The number has fallen every year since then—a trend that has dismayed many adoption advocates in the US. As usual, China accounted for the most children adopted in the US, but its total of 2,040 was down more than 10% from 2013 and far below the peak of 7,903 in 2005. Since then, China has expanded its domestic adoption program and sought to curtail the rate of child abandonment.
Ethiopia was second at 716, a sharp drop over a two-year period from 1,568 adoptions in 2012. Ethiopian authorities have been trying to place more abandoned children with relatives or foster families, and have intensified scrutiny of orphanages to ensure that children placed for adoption are not part of any improper scheme. The next three countries on the list showed increases—521 children adopted from Ukraine, up from 438 in 2013; 464 adopted from Haiti, up from 388; and 370 from South Korea, up from 138. Russia had been No. 3 on the list in 2012, with 748 of its children adopted by Americans, but that number dropped to 250 for 2013 and to just two in 2014 as an adoption ban took effect. (Read more adoption stories.)