Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com
REXBURG — Over the past 13 years, international adoptions by Americans have dropped by 81 percent.
But one local company is trying to change that.
Nathan Gwilliam is the CEO of Rexburg-based Adoption website, which he founded 20 years ago. Adoption.com claims to be the world’s most-used adoption site and has the largest online adoption community. It has facilitated thousands of adoptions and works to help adoptees reunite with their birth parents, according to the company website.
One of the company’s biggest concerns is a seemingly continual decline in international adoptions. In 2004, the International Adoption Accrediting Entity budgeted for 22,989 international adoptions. In 2018, IAAME budgeted for 4,200.
Gwilliam said if that trend continues, international adoption could completely end within four years. He said there are various reasons for the dramatic drop in international adoptions including Russia closing its international adoption program in 2012.
“The State Department has been closing country after country and instead of collaborating with the international adoption agencies, the State Department has been treating adoptive families, in many cases, like criminals.”– Gwilliam
The Hague Convention was intended to streamline the international adoption process and protect children from illegal or ill-prepared adoptions.
“We believe that the bigger issue is the State Department,” he said. “The State Department has been closing country after country and instead of collaborating with the international adoption agencies, the State Department has been treating adoptive families, in many cases, like criminals.”
The problem, Gwilliam said, is from federal legislation that was passed in 2000.
Former Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, the original co-sponsor of the Intercountry Adoption Act, which led to the Hague Convention, said she would never have supported the legislation if she had known how the State Department would end up implementing it, according to the National Council For Adoption web site.
“Instead of shoring up the process and providing support for sending countries, the State Department has twisted the intent of the treaty to close one country after another,” Landrieu said in an article on Adoption.com. “The process has become far more cumbersome and far less transparent. American parents who want to help and lovingly raise a child are often made to feel like criminals.”
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