A recent report from the State Department has revealed some surprising findings: Last year, 4,868 children from other countries were adopted by American families. By comparison, in 2004, that number was 22,884. In fact, it’s the lowest number of international adoptions in 35 years.

Nearly half of the international adoptions last year were from China, but many of the other countries—where hundreds of thousands of children still need permanent homes—have seen American adoption numbers fall dramatically in recent years. And, along with lots of children who are in need of homes around the world, there are countless families in America that want to adopt (as these infographs from Christianity Today show).

Chuck Johnson, chief executive of the National Council for Adoption, explained to the Wall Street Journal, “I don’t see a decline in Americans or citizens from Western countries wishing to adopt.”

So, what’s behind the startling fall? Here’s where it gets a little complicated. Governments around the world have cracked down on fraudulent activity and policies that inadvertently opened the door to the trafficking of children. And, many countries are now attempting to reform their own foster care and adoption systems to make it easier for kids to be adopted into families in their own countries. Also, Russia, where hundreds of children have been adopted by American families over the past several years, no longer allows American adoptions after the U.S. targeted the country with human rights sanctions.

Though Johnson warned U.S. News and World Reports that "the absolute reality is that unadopted children are the most likely to be trafficked," he also said he believes the State Department will take new measures in an attempt to allow for more adoptions in the coming years. Discuss

The American Orphan Crisis

400,000 kids in the U.S. are displaced, and the system is crumbling. Read More

A Better Way to Talk About Adoption

We need to be careful about over-spiritualizing the way we talk adoption in the Church Read More

What Not to Say to Parents of Adopted Children

“When are you having your own kids?” and other things to avoid. Read More

Former NCAA National Champion and Heisman trophy winner recently told People that though he wants another shot to play in the NFL, he’s also been focusing on one of his other passions: Adoption advocacy. At his recent charity golf tournament, more than $1 million was raised for the Tim Tebow Foundation, which recently expanded its services to include “Orphan Care,” a specially designed program that gives grants to families who are adopting special needs children. Though the 26-year-old, who just inked a broadcast deal with ESPN, is currently single, he said that he even plans on adopting one day: “When I have a family someday, I'll probably adopt. Adoption has always been something close to my heart. There are so many kids out there who really need a family … I believe that everyone, regardless of who they are, should do something that is greater than themselves. Whether it's adoption, or helping people who are sick, or poor, or whatever. That's what God put us on this earth to do” ... Discuss

Meet Annmaire Richards, a woman in Jamaica who takes in street children and raises them in her own family. Richards says that she “saw herself” in the children who are “fearfully, and wonderfully made,” and her story is a powerful reminder of the average person’s capability to change the lives of those in need. The video was produced by GoBoka Play in partnership with the Make Life Better Foundation, who will donate a computer lab for the children’s education if the video receives 50,000 views by April 10. So, let’s all do our part and watch the video repeatedly for extra doses of inspiration from Annemarie ... Discuss