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Foreign adoptions by Americans fall, number of worldwide orphans rises

Foreign adoptions by Americans fell to their lowest level since 1994, according to the State Department. Foreign adoptions by Americans keep falling, despite the continuing increase in the amount of orphans and needy children worldwide. 

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Foreign adoptions by Americans fell to a 17-year low. Some blame new restrictive policies like in South Korea, where the government is trying to encourage domestic adoption to shed its reputation of being a source for international adoption. Here, a pastor in South Korea tends to an unwanted infant left in a "baby box" by its mother.

Associated Press

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The number of foreign children adopted by US parents fell by 7 percent last year, to the lowest level since 1994, and is likely to plunge further this year due to the new ban by Russia on adoptions by Americans.

Figures released Thursday by the State Department for the 2012 fiscal year showed 8,668 adoptions from abroad, down from 9,320 in 2011 and down about 62 percent from the all-time high of 22,884 in 2004. The number has dropped every year since then.

As usual, China accounted for the most children adopted in the US. But its total of 2,589 was far below the peak of 7,903 in 2005.

Ethiopia was second, at 1,568, followed by Russia with 748. For the current year, the figure from Russia is likely to shrink to only a few dozen adoptions that were in the final stages of approval before the ban was enacted last month.

The immediate purpose of Russia's ban was to retaliate for a new US law targeting alleged Russian human-rights violators. But the measure also reflects resentment over the 60,000 Russian children adopted by Americans in the past two decades, 19 of whom have died.

The ban has caused anguish for scores of US families who were in the process of trying to adopt Russian children, and it has saddened many of the families who successfully adopted Russian children in the past. They've been posting family photographs and heartwarming testimonials on a Facebook site called Orphans Without Borders.

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