The adoption landscape is changing in the US, and one couple's heartbreaking story illustrates the effect that fact is having on would-be parents. Christa Trinler and Wayne Walrath were one of the more than 3,200 couples and individuals left in the lurch when the Independent Adoption Center (IAC) abruptly declared bankruptcy a month ago. Not only is the couple out more than $6,000 they had paid the private adoption agency since signing up late last year, they'll need to start all over again with a new agency. The problem? Experts tell CBS News that California-based IAC had taken on more clients than it could realistically serve in a reasonable amount of time. The number of couples looking to adopt a baby is rising, but the number of babies available is falling. Earlier this month, an expert told the East Bay Times IAC's closure is "a big red flag" on the future of private adoption in the US.
The factors involved: stricter rules imposed by foreign countries on US adoptions (including a complete ban from Russia); fewer US moms putting babies up for adoption thanks to decreasing stigma against single moms; and the opioid epidemic, which has resulted in more babies being born with health issues. Experts say IAC should have dropped the number of pre-adoptive families it took on as placements slowed. Instead, new clients effectively paid money that IAC needed, in some cases to reimburse or complete adoptions of longer-standing clients, in what one expert calls a sort of "Ponzi scheme." That same expert notes that had IAC never accepted another client, it would have taken the agency eight years to serve the ones it already had—a far cry from the 18-month wait the agency touted. More than 100 adoption agencies have closed or consolidated over the past decade, and some experts are now calling for more regulation of private adoption agencies. (Read more adoption stories.)