MYTH: Adoption — Particularly International Adoption — Is Coming To An End.


Without a doubt, this is one of the most pervasive and dire of adoption myths. There are many theories behind the adoption doomsday scenarios — the most lovely and hopeful of which is the notion that children no longer need adoption to have a permanent, loving family.

If this were true, our work would be done.

In every country where Holt works — and long before pursuing adoption — we strive to keep children in the loving care of their birth families, whenever possible. But sadly, we are far from living in an ideal world where every child can remain with their families.

Fall Leaves

For children who are orphaned, abandoned or unable to remain or reunite with their birth families, adoption is still the best route to a permanent, loving family.

And we assure you that adoption is not ending — not anytime soon.

“I mostly hear this myth about Korea.” So says our long-time adoption counselor Emily Lund, who is often the first person you will speak to when you contact Holt. “There have been rampant rumors for decades now about Korea wanting to eventually cease international adoption,” Emily explains. “Social media doesn’t always help.”

As with many rumors, this one is actually grounded in some truth. But in the game of telephone that invariably follows — now conducted over Facebook and Twitter — truths often become warped and distorted.

In truth, the Korea program has long been one of Holt’s strongest and most reliable adoption programs. And through the years, children from Korea have continued to find homes overseas at a steady, uninterrupted pace.

China, Marks 16

However, in the mid-1970s, Korea did state its intent to end the practice of international adoption, and has since then systematically worked toward that goal — promoting domestic adoption as an alternative. As giving children the opportunity to grow up in their birth country and culture is central to an ethical system of adoption, Holt has also long supported Korea’s efforts. But unfortunately, domestic adoption is not keeping pace with the number of children relinquished into care every year. The children who do find homes in Korea are often younger children with no known health conditions. In Korea, girls are also preferred to boys. As a result, the children left in care frequently have medical or developmental conditions, are often older (between 6-12 months at referral, 24-36 months at placement), and are mostly male. Through international adoption, many of these children are able to join the loving, permanent families they deserve.

In short, there still exists a strong and urgent need for international adoption from Korea. The Korean government continues to refer many children for placement, and Holt continues to find families for them. And so long as the need remains, Holt does not foresee the government of Korea halting the process.

So that clears up one rumor tied to the myth that adoption is ending. But don’t stop reading, because it doesn’t end there…

“I also hear [the myth] here and there because we have so many programs on our website that are ‘closed’ to new families and so they call me thinking those programs are closed forever, when really,” Emily says, “they are just closed on Holt’s end.”

Philippines, Dalangin 2

Holt closes country programs temporarily for a number of reasons — the most common of which is to ensure that the timeframe stays manageable for families in process. “That’s just a fancy way of saying we have enough families in process in our smaller programs,” Emily explains. The Thailand and Philippines programs, for example, are closely monitored and intake opens and closes throughout the year based on the number of applicants. If Holt accepted more applicants to these programs, they would likely end up waiting much longer — years longer — to be matched with a child. If a family has their hearts set on a particular country program, they can wait for intake to reopen. Or if they are open to another country, they can apply for a program with a shorter timeframe.

Another reason why Holt closes programs close is inordinately long in-country processing timeframes. One program that is closed for this reason is the standard China process for children with no known health conditions. This phenomenon mirrors the shift that took place in Korea over a decade earlier. Much like in Korea, China has in recent years experienced a dramatic growth in the number of children joining families domestically within China. As most of the children who find homes in China are younger children with no known health conditions, the children who need international adoptive families are now older or have at least some minor special needs. In fact, as every child who comes home from China will have a special need, Holt no longer draws a distinction between a “standard China process” and a “special needs process.” When you apply to the China program, you are applying for the special needs program. If a family does wish to adopt a child from China with no known health conditions, they will face a wait of at least 7 years. As this is not a manageable timeframe, Holt no longer accepts applications for this process.

This shifting landscape in China is likely behind the number one myth about China adoption: that the need no longer exists for families to adopt from China. To the contrary, the China program needs families for boys and girls with special needs — all age ranges and all levels of need. When you apply to the China program, you will not be “competing” with other families for a small number of children. We have strong partnerships with child caring institutions in China and are receiving new children to find families for every week.

So don’t believe the rumors! Until the day comes when every child can grow up in the loving care of his or her birth family, the need for adoption will remain strong and urgent. And whether you are hoping to adopt from China or Korea, Vietnam, India or Thailand, when you apply to adopt, know that you are offering a loving, permanent family to a child who truly needs one.

mom adoptive son and dad holding hands and laughing

Learn More About International Adoption

We work with families in all 50 states to find loving homes for children from 11 locations around the world!

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