International Adoption

Legalized abortion, a decrease in the number of adoptable Caucasian children, social acceptance of single parenthood, and financial support from the government have caused the number of adoptable children in the United States to drop significantly, reportedly by 30,000 in 20 years. Consequently, many couples, especially Caucasian ones, looked for children abroad, including in Asian countries. Most prevalent among foreign adoptees were Korean, Romanian, and Russian children.

Since the Korean War, Korean children have been favorite adoptees, the most sought after for about 30 years. Initially adoptees were war orphans or unwanted Am-erasians, and later they were mostly abandoned girls and children born into poverty. As a group they made excellent adjustments, had good self-esteem, and were quiet, high-achieving, responsible, socially mature, and without emotional problems. Although the majority of these children were past the noncritical stages of adoption on arrival in the States, they did better than U.S.-born Caucasian adoptees.

Later, Romanian and, more recently, Russian children became popular U.S. adoptees. In the 1990s, after news reports on neglected and abused children in Romania were broadcast, many U.S. families adopted Romanian children. Most Romanian adoptees had endured serious hardships, including institutionalization, neglect, serious malnutri tion at developmentally critical times, and, in some cases, abuse. As a result of social deprivation, many of the adoptees suffered from disinhibited attachment disorder, displaying indiscriminate friendliness with strangers. Many children older than 6 months showed cognitive impairments, but not the younger adoptees. However, some children, though equally deprived during critical phases, overcame their problems. Similar reports came from families with children adopted from Russian orphanages.

Specific parental stress can be created by foreign country officials and government-sanctioned red tape, which can delay the adoption (e.g., through extortion or in an effort to solicit bribes), and can also occur when transplanted children, surrounded by strangers and unable to communicate in English, manifest (at least initially) regressive, anxious, or rejecting behavior instead of the joy and gratefulness the parents naively expected.

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