I think the phrase that shook me up most was this: "In reality, there are very few young, healthy orphans available for adoption around the world. Orphans are rarely healthy babies; healthy babies are rarely orphaned." After spending time in orphanages in the country I plan to adopt from, I can confirm this is true. It’s a fact that children who wind up in these generally have one parent still alive, and/or that a high percentage of the younger ones have a disability that is beyond the means of their existing parents or extended family to manage.
The NGO I was volunteering at has implemented a policy of actually reducing the children they had in their home, and instead investing funds and resources in tracking down (extended) family members, and convincing them, with the help of social workers, to take the child back into their unit, and then providing them with financial support for their upkeep. It’s a strategy that has worked well (they have gone from housing 200 to 20 children in a few years) and one that is being preached, and increasingly put in to practice, by child welfare agencies all over the world.
As an adoptive mother, it also gave me the assurance that every effort had been made to track down the immediate family of my little girl, and that when they did, her surviving family were not in a position to take her back. But I only found this out by asking many, many questions on her background and the circumstances that led her to being institutionalised.
When the time comes that you are allocated a child, I urge you to do the same. As the above-mentioned article points out, international adoption is a demand-driven business. Thus, mistakes are made, even if you are using a well-respected agency. Independent adoptions carry a greater risk, though I have come to the conclusion that the optimum way to carry out any adoption is to spend a good amount of time before allocation in the country itself, visiting the orphanages, talking to social workers and officials and forming a first-hand opinion of how things work. At worst you will bring home an informed opinion of whether this adoption is the ‘right’ thing to do, and at best connect with the child that will form part of your future family.