During the early 2000s, the number of international adoptions reached unprecedented levels. At the same time, a number of high–profile celebrities adopted children born overseas, raising the visibility of a pathway.
This has provided loving, permanent homes to thousands of children since the 1950s.
In the years since, however, international adoption numbers have fallen 82 percent, with just 4,059 children joining families in the United States in 2018, according to a U.S. State Department report.
A host of complex factors have contributed to the decline. These range from the implementation of initiatives to help children remain with their birth families and increased domestic adoption in some countries, to changes in adoptive family eligibility in others. Some countries have closed their international adoption programs due to concerns about unethical practices, or for reasons of politics.
In many cases, however, the process has simply become too difficult or costly for families seeking to adopt a child from overseas. For children waiting for families, this is a devastating trend.