The University Record, January 8, 2001

Adoptions of international children increase from last year in Michigan

By Bernie DeGroat
News and Information Services

Although private-agency adoptions in Michigan were down slightly last year, the number of children from foreign countries permanently placed into Michigan families increased 14 percent from the year before, says U-M social work researcher Leslie Hollingsworth.

Of the 2,738 children placed for adoption in 1999 by private agencies in the state, 805 (29 percent) came from outside the United States, up from 704 in 1998 and more than twice as many as four years ago.

According to an annual study of licensed, private adoption agencies in Michigan by Hollingsworth and the Michigan Federation of Private Child and Family Agencies, 435 of the children adopted internationally in 1999 were from Asia (up 67 percent since 1996), 284 were from Eastern Europe (nearly 2.5 times as many as four years ago), 83 were from Latin America (about a fivefold increase since 1996), and three were from Africa.

“The increase in adoptions of children from Asian countries was particularly noteworthy with regard to Korean children, whose adoptions increased from 228 in 1998 to 303 in 1999—a 33 percent increase,” Hollingsworth says. “This increase occurred in spite of a new policy in Korea limiting the number of children permitted to be internationally adopted to 2,000 per year.”

Among children adopted in Michigan from other countries, the most came from Korea, followed by Russia (190), China (84), Guatemala (77) and Romania (62).

While children from other countries represented the second-largest group of private-agency adoptions in the state last year, children with special needs from within the United States comprised the largest group of children who found permanent homes with Michigan families in 1999, the study shows.

Despite a decrease in the number of adoptions last year involving children with special needs (down 5 percent from 1998), 52 percent of all private-agency adoptions in Michigan were of this type (involving 1,415 children), Hollingsworth says. These are mostly older children with emotional, behavioral or medical problems often associated with abuse or neglect.

Once again, African American families in Michigan represented the largest number (54 percent) of adopters of children with special needs, corresponding closely with the 56 percent of adopted special-needs children who were African American.

In addition to the findings regarding international children and those with special needs, the study also found declines in adoptions involving a voluntary release by birth parents to private agencies (down 8 percent to 396) and direct-consent placements, in which prospective parents are already known by the birth parents (down 20 percent to 122). Again, as in other years, white families represented the largest number of these kinds of adoptive placements (89 percent).

The U-M study also found that in 1999:

  • More than 90 percent of families in voluntary-release and direct-consent adoptions were two-parent families, while 43 percent of the families adopting children with special needs were single-parent families.

  • 76 percent of families who adopted through voluntary-release or direct-consent placements had annual incomes of at least $40,000.

  • 60 percent of families who adopted children with special needs had annual incomes below $40,000.

  • 282 children were adopted cross-racially or cross-culturally.

  • 341 sibling groups of two to five children were adopted together.

  • 98 percent of Michigan’s private adoption agencies offered post-adoption services.

    Of the 75 private agencies licensed to provide adoption services in Michigan in 1999, 67 (89 percent) took part in the study. Thirty-four of the agencies are members of the Michigan Federation of Private Child and Family Agencies, a statewide association of 59 private, nonprofit child and family services organizations.

    The Michigan Federation was formed in 1969 to better coordinate service delivery, present a united voice in advocating for Michigan’s children and families and promote wider use of innovative programs established in private agencies.