Tracking Orphan I
Some friends of mine who used to work INS (now USCIS) right here in Pittsburgh would always tell me that there was something of an urban legend down there that there must be some environmental problem here that kept fertility rates low. Seriously. The reason was that they said an inordinate number of international adoptions processed nationwide came through their Pittsburgh office... Thus they inferred a larger demand for international adoptions locally. Of course it was the type of thing that gets me wondering.
It is true that when you benchmark this, the number of births locally is low. There are some real obvious reasons for it. An older and much more highly educated population both tend to decrease the number of expected births. Low international immigration also depresses local fertility rates compared to elsewhere in the country. Once you take both of those factors into account I think you explain most of the recent differences observed in birth rates in the region vis a vis the US.
But back to my INS friends.. and this was some years ago for the record…. Not anyone who is down there now. I could never get them to give me some hard numbers to document their perceptions even. Probably is something to dig into a bit. My guess, and it is purely a guess, is that there may be more international adoptions that would be expected for a region our size. Also pure speculation, let’s call it a hypothesis, is that the regions long history and connections to Eastern Europe facilitated some steady flows of adoptions over some recent decades.
So a speculative hypothesis to explain an unsubstantiated observation… nothing more. Just watching and praying like everyone else.