In the United States, the number of children adopted internationally has fallen 52 percent -- from a high of 22,991 in 2004 to 11,058 last year. In comparison, 25,000-30,000 children were adopted through private agencies and about 50,000 were adopted through the foster care system in 2009, the most recent year for which those numbers are available.
Elizabeth Bartholet, a Harvard law professor and international adoption expert, said those numbers are "pretty stunning. I see it as a crisis for international adoption, which I think is a crisis for children worldwide."
But others say a needed transition is under way, and that international adoption should be the last resort for finding homes for unparented children. Loose regulations and the large sums of money changing hands have spawned corrupt practices, they say, and as abuses are exposed, many countries have shut down or severely limited inter-country adoption.
"Which is as it should be," said Julie Gilbert Rosicky, executive director of the American branch of the International Social Service, a nonprofit active in 140 countries. "We should not be adopting children when children are being bought and sold or being stolen."
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