AFRICA: The 'new" frontier for international adoption - or the 'final frontier' ?.
The annual number of international adoptions has fallen by 77 per cent in the years from 2004 to 2016 from c 45,000 to just over 10,000.
In 2005 more than 14,000 children m China were placed for adoption with families in the USA and other western countries. By 2014 the number had fallen to less than 3,000. Similar declines are found in Russia, which sent over 9,000 children in 2004, but less than 1,000 in 2015. The fall in numbers has been attributed to a combination of factors including economic developments and interest in domestic adoption by childless couples in many states or origin which were sending children overseas, but also concern over irregularities and child trafficking.
However, in Africa numbers have been rising in many countries. In 2003 six per cent of international adoptions were from African country es; by 2013 this had risen to 28 per cent. This has been attributed by some to the growing number of orphans in Africa or the influence of ‘celebrity’ adoptions (Mezmur, 2009 ) 1, but others fear that it reflects a market in international adoption and the impact of a missionary zeal in some American adoption agencies. However, in subsequent years numbers have fallen and in 2015 only 20 per cent pf adoptions were from Africa
Although Ethiopia sent most children between 2003 and 2015 – c 60% of all those adopted from Africa over the last 12 years – the number of adoptions has risen most sharply in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in 2017 Ethiopia announced an end to international adoption.
This paper examines concerns over this growth in a continent where poverty persists and there is little understanding of western full adoption, drawing on the work of the African Child Policy Forum (2012), which held a conference on the topic in Addis Ababa in 2013 2 and discussions at the 2015 Special Commission on Intercountry Adoption, held in the Hague in June 2015 and examines the reversal in trends since 2012 and whether this marks the beginning of the end for adoption from Africa – or indeed for international adoption worldwide.
1. Mezmur, B. (2009) ‘From Angelina (to Madonna) to Zoe’s Ark: what are the “A-Z” lessons for intercountry adoptions in Africa’, International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, 23, 145-73.
2. African Child Policy Forum (2013) Africa: The New Frontier for Intercountry Adoption. Addis Ababa: The African Child Policy Forum