What country has children the most in need of being adopted?

If you are considering adoption, and/or have a heart for orphans, you may have wondered which country has the most orphans. Also, you may have wondered which country has the greatest need for adoptive parents. Since international adoption is always changing, and what’s true for Canada may not be true for you, here’s some guidelines when narrowing down where in the world children are most in need of being adopted:

1. As you begin your search, you are bound to find that certain countries are closed to adoption at this time. Even though there may be thousands of orphans there, adoption is not an open. Strike these countries from your list.

2. As you search farther, take notice of the countries that have programs that are currently full and have a “call back” list. This means that the country/program is so full with prospective parents that the agency can’t even entertain an application from you for a while! This can happen at times when there are more people seeking to adopt then there are children available.  By default, strike these countries/programs from your list as well.

3. Look into wait times from when the dossier is received to when one could expect a proposal. Generally speaking, those with waits that are 5+ years tend to be slow because there are way more prospective parents than there are children available. Another strike. (You should now be left with only a handful of countries/adoption programs that a) the country is open to international adoptions and b) have open spots for you to apply now and c) have a proposed wait list of less than 5 years).

4. As you communicate with the handful of various countries’ adoption programs, you may find that one theme remains when you ask, “what children are the most in need of being adopted?” You are likely to hear over and over again: boys, sibling groups, children over 5 year of age, and children with special needs. 

5. While the first four points was looking at international adoption, don’t forget to contact your local Children’s Welfare office to inquire about adoption from Foster Care as well. There are children in need of being adopted whose parents have had their rights terminated and these children wait…and wait… and wait for a permanent family.

Edited: What country has children with the greatest need of being adopted? The short answer is… its complicated. See Kristen’s comment below for more consideration re: international adoption:

3 thoughts on “What country has children the most in need of being adopted?”

  1. Just wanted to add some additional thoughts:

    1. The country with the most “need” for adoptive families or the country with children most “in need” of adoption is not always the same as the country with the shortest waiting list or the most available children. I’m sure there are plenty of children in need of forever families in countries that don’t currently have intercountry adoption programs. There are also plenty of children in need of families even in countries with long waits.

    2. Sometimes programs with long waits aren’t necessarily that way because of tons of families waiting to adopt (although that definitely adds to the wait), but because of paperwork and a system of checks and balances in place to make sure those adoptions are ethical. And in many cases that’s good, even though it’s hard to imagine waiting years from start to finish.

    3. Countries with very short wait times that promise fast referrals may look and sound appealing, but sometimes that means that the program is a pilot program, or that there is a lot of corruption within that country or agency. Not always, but speed of process should probably not be the only determining factor in picking a program and agency.

    4. Families should really be honest with themselves about the number and age of children they wish to parent, or feel capable of parenting. Just because there are lots of teenage boys (for example) available for placement doesn’t mean that every family is a good match. Same thing goes with special needs and sibling groups. Many times, agencies require families to show proof that they have the available resources, experience and support to parent a child of a specific age or specific set of needs. I think this is smart. Parents are making a life-long commitment to this child, not just “rescuing” them from an orphanage.

    5. International adoption is a roller coaster and at any time the process can drastically change. Just speaking from our own experience and after over 2.5 years in, our process looks vastly different now than it did when we started. I think families should definitely do their research and pick a program that is right for them, but also keep in mind that even with the most carefully calculated decision, things can still slow down, speed up, stop altogether, or change drastically when you’re in the middle of it. It’s just part of the ride.

  2. Thanks Kristen!! Great points. The more I read about adoption, the more I realize that there’s even differences re: international whether you are in the US adopting or in Canada. I should have been more clear in my post – at least in Canada, international adoption is never fast. The soonest I’ve seen advertised is 1.5-2 years once dossier is received. It seems like a lot of agencies (there’s so few of them in Canada) are quite transparent about the wait-times..some flat out say that it will be a 5-10 year wait. Crazy. The ones that I’ve had contact with have said that the wait is due to their being more prospective parents than children available.

    I’m just a research addict, and you are in the process of adopting. Thanks SO much for sharing. It’s true that adoption needs to be about wanting to parent a child, not “rescue” one. There has been curiosity re: which countries have the most orphans in need of adoption, so this post was an attempt to dig into that, although it’s very complicated!

  3. In 2012 international adoptions accounted for 25% of all adoptions in the United States. China and Ethiopia were the highest incoming countries of origin. Recent changes in Russian policy has reduced inter-country adoptions. The Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, plays an active role in the inter-country adoption process and are dedicated to assisting parents as they seek to provide a home to orphans abroad. Guidelines are provided by a multilateral treaty signed by over 75 countries in the Hague, Netherlands, to strengthen protections for children, birthparents, and prospective adoptive parents in the adoption process. The treaty provides a framework for countries to work together to ensure that adoptions take place in the best interests of children and to prevent the abduction, sale, or trafficking of children in connection with inter-country adoption.

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