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Prospects Bleaker for Kids Already Left Behind

One consequence of the new restrictions on international adoption that we wrote about Wednesday will be longer waiting times for older children languishing in orphanages.

American adopters have been unique in the world their willingness to adopt older children, some of whom have spent many years in orphanages, noted Tom DiFilipo, president of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services.

The French, in particular, and adopters from many other countries generally prefer to adopt only infants and babies under one year old, DiFilipo said. Some children who aren’t adopted by the time they turn three years old or so, for whatever reason, can end up spending their entire childhoods in orphanages or in foster care. Some are abandoned or never adopted because they have easily corrected medical conditions, such as a cleft palate.

International adoption can be controversial, especially in impoverished countries, because scandals sometimes erupt over whether birthmothers intended to give up their babies for adoption or whether they were misled or enticed by money. But when it comes to older children, there’s been no debate. Those children clearly were left behind years earlier. Placing them with families is difficult, and with countries curtailing their adoption programs, it only gets harder.

Adoption advocates are hoping they can get exceptions from new restrictions for older children and for those with special needs, but that’s not guaranteed.

Some descriptions of the world’s waiting children can be found here and at other adoption agency websites.

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