Since the end of the 20th century, infertile couples and single people have increasingly turned to transracial and international adoptions, as well as new medical techniques for treating infertility and providing alternative methods of reproduction. Meanwhile, the number of older special-needs children awaiting adoption has skyrocketed. These children often come from backgrounds of abuse and neglect, and finding appropriate placements for them is one of the most pressing concerns in child welfare today.
In December 2007, the United States joined the Hague Adoption Convention. As of April 2008, the Convention will monitor adoptions between the United States and other Convention member countries. Each member country has established a central authority to maintain ethical practices in the adoption process. The treaty is intended to protect children, birth parents, and adoptive parents from corrupt dealings, such as hidden fees and child abduction, that have become common.
- In 2001, there were 1.5 million adopted children in the United States, representing 2.5 percent of all U.S. children.
- Though U.S. citizens adopted nearly 13,000 children from 106 different countries in 2009, a little more than two-thirds of all children came from only five sending countries: China (23 percent), Ethiopia (18 percent), Russia (12 percent), South Korea (8 percent) and Guatemala (6 percent).
- Adoptive mothers tend to be older than mothers who have not adopted children. Fifty-one percent of adoptive mothers are between 40 to 44 years of age compared with 27 percent of non-adoptived. Eighty-one percent of adoptive mothers are 35 to 44 years of age compared to 52 percent of non-adoptive mothers.