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Health & Pregnancy

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How Are International Adoptees Doing?

Study Shows Fewer Behavioral Problems for Children Adopted Internationally

'Adoption Nation' continued...

Roughly a quarter of the children brought to the U.S. from other countries come from China, with another quarter coming from Russia. The rest come from other countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, and Central America.

Because of the Chinese government's one-child policy, most of the adoptions from that country are girls.

Adoption researcher Adam Pertman tells WebMD that the boom in international adoptions is largely responsible for a fundamental shift in the way Americans perceive families.

Pertman wrote the book Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming America, and he is executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

"This is pretty monumental," he says. "Our ideas about what families are, of what they should look like, and how they form are literally changing every day. And the impact goes way beyond the family."

Education Is Key

Pertman says parents who adopt internationally these days tend to be more sensitive to the identity issues and other problems their children are likely to face than they were in the past.

"Gone are the days when white parents adopting a child from Korea were told to just raise the child as if he were born in the U.S.," he says.

He adds that it is critical that parents who adopt internationally educate themselves so that they will be prepared when the questions come.

Susan Soon-keum Cox was one of the first international adoptees to the U.S. She says the No. 1 mistake that parents make is trying to raise their adoptive children without acknowledging their background and cultural heritage.

Soon-keum, who was adopted from Korea in 1956, grew up in a small town in Oregon with almost no contact with other Asians. She now works with the adoption agency Holt International, which has placed more than 50,000 children from other countries with American families.

"These days, with the Internet and greater awareness, there are many more resources for children, even those who live in small towns," she says. "The barriers of distance have been greatly eliminated."

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