International adoption in France: sharp fall in 2015

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development published the 2015 statistics for international adoptions in France on January 26, 2016. According to the latest tally by the International Adoption Mission, only 815 foreign children were adopted by the French in 2015.

Between 2010 and 2015, the number of international adoptions in France fell by 4 times and is now on a par with national adoptions, with approximately 800 children confided to the Social Services for children every year. This number is the lowest since the beginning of the 80’s. It is the fifth consecutive year the adoption statistics are lower in France. Between 2004 and 2015, the number of adoptions fell almost 80%.

According to distribution by geographical zone in 2015, the number of adoptions in Africa topped the list (283 children) followed by Asia (235), America (159), Europe (134) and Oceania (4). Regarding the country of origin, Vietnam became the leading country of origin for children adopted in France with 108 adoptions, followed by Colombia with 75 adoptions and the Ivory Coast with 62 adoptions. Fifty-four % of international adoptions were for boys and 46% for girls.

Sixty-five % of the 2015 adoptions concerned children « with special needs » (compared to 53% in 2012). This designation refers to their age (over 5 years old), to simultaneous adoptions for at least two members of the same family and/or one or several pathologies. One international adoption out of two was accompanied by an official adoption agency, 25% by private individuals, and 25% used the French adoption agency. Less than ten homosexual couples had recourse to foreign adoptions. These children were all natives of South Africa and Brazil; the only two countries open to adoption by couples of the same sex.

At the end of 2013, more than 18,000 licenses in France were in the process of being validated: thus many couples may never adopt. In a report entitled “International Adoption around the globe : reasons for its’ decline” the national institute for demographic studies observes that the strong decline in the number of international adoptions throughout the world has several explanations, but all of these explanations have one point in common: it is not the number of « requests » by the candidates for adoption that has shown a decline, but the « offer » of adoptable minors. This lack is firstly explained by structural, demographic or economic reasons: on one hand, lower mortality and higher standards of living in the traditional countries of origin for international adoptions reduce the number of orphans; on the other hand, contraception distribution and abortions (…). Finally, the higher standard of living allows the public policymakers to develop social and family policies to help minor-aged orphans or those who are abandoned. Thus the total number of minors confided for international adoption is reduced.

Several decisions of a political and legal nature contributed to increasing the shortage of international adoptable minors since the middle of the 2000’s. For example, since 2006, China has demanded that the child confided for international adoption be adopted by a heterosexual married couple. In Russia, in opposition to China where the Hague convention is not applicable, the number of minors confided for international adoption has seriously declined since 2005 following several scandals, where certain events have affected national emotions (particularly that of little Artiom Saveliev, adopted by an American woman, who then rejected him and sent him back to Russia en 2011). Even other countries (Rumania, Bulgaria, Guatemala, Vietnam…) have implemented an international moratorium on international adoptions, in order to have time to align their practices to be in conformity with the Hague Convention and to eradicate merchandising children.

In its 2015 report, INED (French National Institute of Demographic Research) concluded that « the decline in adoptions is not without consequence in a country such as France: we can anticipate an increase in requests for medically assisted reproduction and gestational surrogacy”. This slippery technique could be prejudicial. It’s noteworthy to recall that “the right to a child” does not exist: the adoption process does not exist to give a child to a couple, but to give a family to a child who has already been subjected to serious traumatism by being deprived of his father and his mother.