Increased interest in older children and ones from devastated countries have contributed to the rise in placements seen by the nation's largest adoption agency.
Bethany Christian Services reported Monday that it saw a 13 percent increase in the number of adoption placements from 2009 to 2010. The agency placed 1,930 children in homes through its adoption services last year.
"With more than 163 million orphans around the world, it is greatly encouraging to see so many people willing to provide a loving home to a child in need of one," said Bill Blacquiere, president and CEO at Bethany Christian Services, in a statement.
Bethany officials attribute the increase in adoption placements to a growing acceptance of adopting older children and a substantial increase in international adoption inquiries. In the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the agency received nearly 17,000 inquiries for international adoption. This marked a 57 percent year-to-year increase in inquiries on international adoption.
While Bethany officials are pleased with the boost in the number of adoption placement last year, the Michigan-based agency said that more needs to be done given the large number of orphans in the world. The agency hopes to partner with church leaders to support foster care as well as domestic adoption in other countries.
Bethany seeks to develop partnerships with churches in countries where the number of orphans is high so more children can be placed with loving families in their home country.
"Unless we provide countries with the tools and expertise to operate functional foster care and adoption programs, the number of orphans could continue to rise each year by the millions," warned Blacquiere.
Fortunately, some churches in Haiti and Ethiopia have committed to working with the agency to care for its orphaned population.
"We expect adoptions will continue to rise as new movements within the Christian community raise awareness and aid for the global orphan crisis," Blacquiere shared. "The support our families have received from churches and congregations across the United States has been inspiring and we're very grateful."
Bethany Christian Services has more than 80 locations in 33 states and in over a dozen countries. In addition to adoption services, Bethany provides pregnancy counseling, family counseling, foster care programs, refugee services, orphan care, and an infertility ministry called Stepping Stones. The Christian adoption agency was founded in 1944.