Thursday, November 17, 2011

Statistics: Intercountry Adoptions Disrupted or Dissolved

The State Department's Annual Report on Adoption includes statistics about disrupted adoptions:
In FY 2011, adoption service providers (ASPs) reported five disrupted placements in Convention adoptions, i.e., cases in which there was an interruption of a placement for adoption during the post-placement (but pre-adoption) period. Table 6 summarizes this information.

In addition, information received from the Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to §422(b)(12) of the Social Security Act indicated 33 cases of disruptions and dissolutions involving 41 children who were adopted from other countries and entered state custody as a result.
First, note that the figures for adoptions from Hague Convention countries are only those reported by an agency.  Second, note that the disruption figures apply ONLY to cases where the disruption happened prior to finalization of adoption.  That's a pretty small pool, since most international adoptions are finalized in the foreign country, before the child comes to the U.S. That explains why the only countries represented on the list of disruptions are the Philippines and India, two countries where the adoption is not finalized until the child is in the U.S. So a child whose adoption was finalized in China, for instance, and then after coming to the U.S. the adoption was disrupted or dissolved, won't appear in these statistics. 

Second, the report won't report an adoption dissolution until a court has legally ended the adoption. The 2010 report notes, for example, that Artyom's case, where the adoption was finalized in Russia and then his mother returned him, is not included in the disruption statistics because no court had yet to legally dissolve the adoption.  But, of course, the only reason the State Department knows about Artyom's case is that it was "widely reported," as they put it.  Post-adoption, it might be that the agency would never know about it to report it, and the federal government would never know about it because the child has already acquired citizenship.  And readoption or foster placement is just a domestic adoption/family law matter that flies under the radar of the State Department.

Third, though the number is small (5), it represents an increase over the 2010 report and the 2009 report, where there were no reported disruptions. Whether that represents an increase in disruptions or an increase in reporting can't be known from the reports.

The second set of statistics is still small -- 33 cases of disruption or dissolution involving 41 children -- out of 9,320 total adoptions in FY 2011. And the pool is likely to be actually larger, since the cases of disruption are captured here regardless of when the adoption happened.  Still, it is a disturbing figure. According to the report,
This information was provided in the annual update from states on progress made toward accomplishing goals and objectives in the Child and Family Services Plan. This information was submitted by states to the Department of Health and Human Services through an Annual Progress and Services Report (APSR). The most recent APSRs were submitted on June 30, 2011 and contained information from FY 2010. All of the information provided by states in the APSR was included in this count regardless of the date provided from the states on specific actions taken in a case or when it was reported to the state.
First, this statistic is unlikely to reflect the full picture.  A child who did not end up in state custody after disruption won't appear in this statistic, either.  And it's common for a child from a disrupted adoption to simply be passed on to a new family without entering state custody.

Second, this also represents an increase over 2010, where there were 9 cases representing 22 children. The 2009 report did not include this category.

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