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International Adoption Becoming Difficult Amid Treaties, Regulation

International adoption has been a popular practice for American couples, with adoptions reaching as high as 20,000 a year. This process is becoming more difficult as barriers increase, with international organizations and foreign countries alike enacting increasingly stringent regulations.

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    Since the early '90s, Americans have adopted more and more children from overseas. In fact, international adoptions in the U.S. have tripled over that time, to more than 20,000 a year.

    But over the past three years, that growth has begun to slow down, and it may drop even more. That's partly due to disputes over a global treaty known as the Hague Convention on International Adoption. It creates new protections against child trafficking and stricter requirements for adoption agencies.

    The U.S. has signed on to the treaty, but since then has reached an impasse with Vietnam. As of today, Vietnam is not accepting new adoption applications from the U.S.

    That's not the only problem: Troubles have arisen with adoptions from Guatemala, Russia, and a few other countries. All of this is of great concern to the thousands of American families looking to adopt from overseas.

    We examine the state of international adoption with Susan Soon-Keum Cox of Holt International, Children's Services, an international adoption agency; and Kathleen Strottman, she's executive director of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, a bipartisan caucus focused on adoption issues.

    Thank you both for being with us.

    Kathleen Strottman, to you first. What has happened with regard to these adoptions from Vietnam?

    KATHLEEN STROTTMAN, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute: Judy, over the last five years, I think both the U.S. government and the government of Vietnam have been actively engaged in conversations about how to better protect the families that are adopting the children in Vietnam and the children themselves.

    And I think they both agree that there's a need for reform so that they can ensure that every adoption that is taking place is an ethical one. Where we have reached a level of disagreement is about how to achieve that reform and how to move forward post-September of this year.


    Susan Cox, what's your view? Why this impasse with Vietnam?

    SUSAN SOON-KEUM COX, Holt international, Children's Services: Well, one of the things that happened just recently when the prime minister of Vietnam was in Washington, D.C., he and our president agreed that they both are very committed to doing what's necessary to ensure that adoptions don't stop between now and September.

    And one of the things that Vietnam is going to do is begin working only with Hague-accredited adoption agencies. And that provides a level of protection that really hasn't been there before.