Since its founding in 1991, Christian World Adoption has had only one objective: to help as many orphaned children around the world as possible find secure, loving homes. Thanks to our families and a truly dedicated staff, we have been very successful at doing that, placing thousands of children from a wide variety of countries in American homes. Our agency motto is "God is in control of our agency and your adoption," and we believe that finding homes for orphans is indeed God's work.
International adoption has faced many obstacles over the decades, with various countries opening and closing, but through it all Americans' desire to adopt has remained strong. U.S. parents adopted an amazing 235,000 children from around the world between 1999 and 2011. That desire to adopt is just as strong as ever, with thousands of families all over the country currently trying to adopt foreign orphans. Yet international adoption to the USA has declined by 62% since its peak in 2004, and that downward trend is expected to continue. Why is that?
Today international adoption—adoption agencies in general and CWA in particular—face a "perfect storm" of circumstances that has made it difficult and in some cases impossible to continue. Many adoption agencies have closed their doors in recent years. Russia's recent ban on adoptions to Americans, the U.S. State Department's decision not to open adoptions from Cambodia, vastly longer adoption wait times in China, and longer adoption times and fewer referrals in Ethiopia have all had an adverse effect on CWA. UNICEF has waged an unrelenting campaign against international adoption for many years. Ongoing mandatory child care costs in Ethiopia despite slower adoptions has been a major drain on our finances. Children living in our partner orphanages have to be cared for, fed and kept healthy every day, even when adoption cases are not moving and the fees we collect do not entirely cover the cost of their care. Costs have been increasing all across the board, including the cost of accreditation and licensing to remain in compliance with U.S. and foreign legal requirements, as well as the number of staff hours devoted to that compliance.
Our struggle to adapt and survive under new conditions has gone on for more than three years. Throughout that time, CWA's staff has continued to bring children home and provide our families with a high level of service. We have always been very committed to what we do, on a very personal level. In a series of cost-saving measures we reduced every possible expense: cut our U.S. staff by two-thirds; curtailed foreign staff; moved to less expensive offices here and abroad; cut back on foreign travel; reduced mailing costs to a minimum; closed Acacia Village in Ethiopia; saved in every possible way on our fixed monthly expenses; and utilized nearly all the proceeds from the sale of a building owned by Christian World Foundation to financially underwrite the expense of providing CWA's adoption services.
Still it was not enough. Given the length of the international adoption process, operating expenses have not been covering the expenses of adoptions for some time. We utilized donations and funds made available by Christian World Foundation to continue funding child care, and we appealed for more donations to a wide variety of possible donors. In the end, we are forced to admit that our continued operation as an agency is no longer feasible. It is with great regret that CWA announces that we are ending operations as an agency effective immediately. If there were any way forward for CWA, we would take that option, but at this point in time we see no other choice but to close our doors. Needless to say, we are devastated.
Christian World has filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy. There is an independent fiduciary operating under the oversight of the United States Bankruptcy Court as Christian World Adoption closes down. We selected this option rather than just closing the doors in order to give families comfort that we have handled their trust and their finances in accordance with the law. The trustee will look over our operations to ensure that all funds have been properly handled. Any funds left in the estate will be paid to creditors. Anyone wishing to file a creditor claim should email the bankruptcy trustee Larry Stiles.
We loved our work, the children, and the parents who believed in adoption. It's been wonderful, and we are thankful to God for the opportunity to serve orphans who needed forever families.