Is Donald Trump's Policies Hurting International Adoption?

Created: 09 November, 2017
Updated: 17 October, 2022
3 min read

In September, President Trump issued a presidential proclamation adding a number of countries to his travel ban that made headlines earlier this year.

The original list of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen now includes Chad, Venezuela, and North Korea. Taking effect on October 18, this travel ban has restrictions that are indefinite and subject to change, ABC News reports.

While there has been much speculation about how this travel ban might affect citizens from these countries, many hopeful parents are also wondering how the travel ban — especially the indefinite nature of the more recent travel bans — might affect international adoptions.

In 2016, families from the U.S. completed over 5,300 international adoptions. Many people choose to partake in international adoptions because they’re far less expensive and often much easier to complete than domestic adoptions.

But many adoption hopefuls are worried about the anti-immigration ideals that the Trump administration has promoted so far in his presidency. In addition, some are worried about a resurgence in nationalism and populism and lack of civil discourse in the United States that has appeared to peak following the presidential election.

Trump’s foreign policy plans do have the potential to disrupt potential adoptions, especially given Trump’s incendiary comments toward China — which is the most popular country for international adoptions.

Since visas and passports are vital parts of the international adoption process, many prospective parents are wondering if international adoptions will continue to be an option. Will these new policies make the process even more difficult moving forward?

It’s hard to tell for certain at this point. While state governments have been stepping in to block these unconstitutional bans, none have actually addressed the ways these travel bans could impact international adoption.

Banning travel for Muslims hailing from countries where Islam is the dominant religion could certainly impact children looking for new homes. Similarly, the ban on Syrian refugees specifically could leave children orphaned by the conflict in Syria without a home or even the potential for one in the U.S.

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What is clear is that the Trump Administration has been far from welcoming to refugees, immigrants, and those hailing from Muslim majority countries. However, many adoption experts argue that although there are many barriers when it comes to overseas adoption, so far these bans do not yet pose a threat.

“Over the past 10 years, many factors have made inter-country adoption much more challenging,” Jedd Medefind, president of the McLean, Virginia-based Christian Alliance for Orphans told the Christian Post earlier this year. “Although the travel ban debate has created much uncertainty and questions, it has not had a major impact on actual adoptions.”

He notes later on that some unaccompanied minors have reportedly been delayed in entering the U.S. due to the ban but also indicates that he believes that the ban “includes an exception for adopted children.”

Others argue, however, that this process is much more complicated. As reported by the AP earlier this year, there were roughly 100 refugee children scheduled to be adopted by American foster families who were left “stranded.”

“[A] series of Trump administration orders, and court rulings interpreting them, are now barring refugees with no close family in the United States,” Ellen Knickmeyer of the AP writes. “That requirement shuts out the refugee children in the foster program, who have no relatives they can turn to anywhere.”

It’s unclear what is in store for the future of international adoption in the U.S. Though experts note that adoption protocols are stable for now, the indefinite nature of travel bans from certain countries — many of which are predominantly Muslim, could play an important role moving forward.

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