erall, DeFilipo — whose council represents many international adoption agencies — found reason for optimism in the new statistics.
"What you're seeing is fewer countries sending very large numbers of children and a broader range of countries participating,” he said.
He mentioned Kenya, Peru and Brazil as countries not now among the most common nations from which children are adopted, but which might increase international adoptions in coming years.
By contrast, another adoption expert, Harvard law professor Elizabeth Bartholet, depicted the new numbers as "totally depressing.”
She said China and Russia reflected a trend in which countries opened themselves up to international adoption, then scaled back. She attributed this in part to UNICEF and other international organizations encouraging countries to care for children within their homeland, even when domestic programs such as foster care might be inadequate.
UNICEF's child protection spokesman, Geoffrey Keele, said the U.N. agency does believe it is preferable to care for orphaned or abandoned children in their own countries if good homes could be found.
"The best interests of the child must be the guiding principle,” he said. "We don't go about discouraging international adoption. We just want to be sure it's done properly.”
For U.S.-based adoption agencies, the biggest impact has been on those specializing in placing children from China.
For the second year, no Romanian children were adopted by Americans. The Eastern European country, which provided 1,119 children to U.S. families in 2000, has banned adoptions by foreigners, except for relatives.