The Baby Deficit

How changing attitudes about international adoption are creating heartbreak for American families

Peter Rad for TIME

Gabrielle Shimkus was driving home when her husband Frank called with the good news. They have a son for us, he told her.

Later that September day in 2008, a picture of the boy--a tiny, 2½-month-old orphan in Kyrgyzstan with a severe cleft lip and palate--arrived by e-mail from the adoption agency. "It was scary at first, he was so small, so fragile," Gabrielle says of those first photos. But the couple, who had been trying to adopt for four months, felt an immediate connection with the child. "That's it," Gabrielle remembers feeling. "He's ours. That's my son."

They decided they...

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