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The high-profile legal saga of the 10 Idaho-based Baptists arrested in January for attempting to smuggle 33 Haitian children into the Dominican Republic is winding down. But evangelical adoption advocates wonder what the long-term impact will be.  

Leading orphan care advocate Russell Moore suggested in the days following the arrests that the scandal might be a black eye to evangelicals' adoption efforts worldwide. But two months later, Moore said he is no longer worried about a fallout.

"In many ways, the controversy served as an opportunity to clarify what we mean and what we do not mean," said Moore, dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. "No one in the Christian orphan care community is calling for children to be adopted who are not in fact orphans. And no one is calling for children to be adopted apart from the legitimate processes."

A larger hurdle for international adoptions by evangelicals may be new restrictions on adoptions in countries where they have been most prevalent, including China, Guatemala, Russia, Vietnam, and Liberia.

China, which has traditionally accounted for the majority of adoptions to the U.S., rewrote its qualifications for adoptive parents in 2007. Guatemala, the second-largest source of American adoptions, completely shut down its program in 2008 due to widespread corruption, though it will launch a new adoption system this June. Since 2004, these and other restrictions have resulted in a 40 percent decline in overseas adoptions by Americans—from an all-time high of almost 23,000 in 2004 to fewer than 12,800 in 2009, according to the U.S. State Department.

"American citizens who adopt from overseas adopt from a very small number of countries," said Michele ...

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In the Magazine

May 2010

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