In response to many inquiries from concerned Americans, the U.S. Department of State has stated that it will not be possible for U.S. citizens to adopt children who have been orphaned by the tsunami that struck parts of South Asia.
According to the State Department, the international standard in a crisis is to keep children as close to their family members as possible. It can be extremely difficult to determine whether children whose parents are missing are truly orphans. In the current situation, many children have become separated from one or both of their parents. Even when children are indeed orphaned, they are often taken in by other relatives. Staying with relatives in extended family units is generally a better solution than uprooting the child completely.
The State Department believes that it will take many months before the situation in those countries affected by the tsunami stabilizes to the point where the countries will be able to identify the children who are legitimate orphans. It is only if and when these countries decide to make these orphans available for international adoption that American citizens will be able to begin adoption proceedings for these children.
Americans who wish to contribute to ongoing relief efforts in response to the tsunami may obtain further information at www.usaid.gov or from the Center for Disaster Information (CIDI) at 703-276-1914.