American families adopted 241 Indian kids in 2019, an official US report said on Wednesday. In fiscal 2019, consular officers issued 2,971 immigrant visas to children adopted abroad (2,677) or to be adopted in the United States (294) by American citizens, the State Department said in its 12th annual report on the issue. The report shows a decline in the total number of inter-country adoptions by American families, Special Advisor for Children's Issues Michelle Bernier-Toth told reporters during a news conference.
Most of that decline he attributed to a decrease of inter-country adoptions from just two countries: China (a decrease of 656) and Ethiopia (a decrease of 166). In both cases, the reductions result from "continued social, economic or legal changes that we have previously reported on regarding those countries", she said.
"We believe that most of the continuing worldwide decline is due to countries prioritising domestic placements for vulnerable children before considering inter-country adoption, or countries such as Russia, Guatemala and Ethiopia, which have unilaterally suspended or banned inter-country adoption," she said.
At the same time, some countries noticeably increased the number of inter-country adoptions to the US, including Ukraine (+50), Liberia (+21), Hungary (+17) and Colombia (+15), the report said.
However, Chinese kids still top the list of adoptions with 819 in 2019. China is followed by Ukraine (298), Colombia (244), India (241) and South Korea (166).
Responding to questions, Bernier-Toth said adoptions have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but that is not to say that they have stopped.
"Although our embassies and consulates abroad have suspended routine visa processing, adoption cases remain a priority, and to the extent that they are possible given the circumstances within each country and the stage at which each case is, we are continuing to process adoption cases and have had a number of families return to the US with their children just within the past month," she said.
According to the report, in 2019, families outside the US adopted 56 children from America to seven countries: Canada (24), the Netherlands (17), Mexico (six), Ireland (five), Belgium (one), Switzerland (one) and the United Kingdom (two).
The report said Peru on average takes a maximum of 899 days to complete the adoption process.
Peru is followed by Guinea (848 days), Dominican Republic (834), Burundi (825) and Burkina Faso (808 days).
India, on an average, takes 457 days to complete the adoption process.
(With PTI inputs)