Tighter government restrictions have reduced the number of children adopted from overseas to a 15-year low. In response, evangelicals—more willing than ever to adopt—are broadening the type of children they are willing to take in. More families, for example, are taking special-needs children, older kids, and those in foster care. Meanwhile, agencies are developing childcare subsidies and other programs to facilitate in-country adoptions.
"Constrictions on adoption of younger, healthier children have nudged many Christians to consider situations they may not have otherwise contemplated," said Jedd Medefind, president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAO).
Bethany Christian Services, which facilitates hundreds of international adoptions annually, released an adoption kit for HIV-positive kids in 2011. President Bill Blacquiere says churches are responding.
"These children have a big need to have a family," he said. "Their future is very dim."
Worldwide, adoptions by foreign parents declined from 45,000 in 2004 to 25,000 last year. The United States saw an even greater drop, from 25,000 such adoptions in 2004 to just over 9,000 in 2011.
The reasons vary. Although the Hague Adoption Convention passed stricter guidelines in 1993, these didn't take effect in the United States until 2008. Top sending countries like Ethiopia and Guatemala have curtailed most outside adoptions, while Russia now requires three official visits that can cost $50,000.
There is also the bad taste left by a scandal two years ago, when Haitian officials accused a Kansas missionary of trying to sneak children across the border to the Dominican Republic.
However, an official with Dallas-based ...1