A Look at Foreign Adoption

Here is a look at some trends in international adoptions from 1989 to 1998, based on statistics from the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the U.S. Department of State.

In the past decade, the number of U.S. citizens adopting children from foreign countries has doubled, increasing steadily from 7,948 in 1989 to 15, 774 in 1998.

The largest number of adopted children continue to come from Asia (totaling 7,827 last year) although adoptions from China — which last year accounted for the second highest number of foreign adoptions — has surpassed Korea in the past four years.

Adoptions from Europe have increased dramatically in the last 10 years, from 120 in 1989 to 5,660 in 1998. Since 1992, the greatest number of adopted children in Europe has come from Russia, totaling 4,491 last year, ranking it the highest number of foreign adoptions. Children from Romania continue to be adopted, but not anywhere near the 1992 high of 2,552 children.

While adoptions in Central America also have increased — from 595 in 1989 to 976 in 1998 — they have not grown as dramatically as in other regions in the world. Guatemala continues to top the list in Central America, with 911 adoptions last year.

South America is the only region in which adoptions have decreased during the 1990s. In 1989, U.S. citizens adopted 1,757 South American children. Last year, that number dropped to 655. Colombia continues to place the most children, although those numbers, too, have declined. The greatest changes in South America are in Chile, Paraguay and Peru, all of which dwindled from placing several hundred children a year with American families to placing less than 30.