But as Blitzer found when she filed to adopt another child from China six years ago, these fairy tale endings are now less common.
Door to China narrows
If Blitzer, now 55, filed for adoption in China today, she would have no hope of being matched with a healthy baby. In May 2007 -- a month after she filed for her second adoption -- China instituted new, stringent rules for foreign adoptions. The new rules at first prohibited single people and those over the age of 50 from adopting a child. In 2011, single women were again allowed to adopt but only children with special needs, such as those with a physical disability. Single women must sign an affidavit that they are not homosexual.
China also now prohibits adoptions to foreigners who are morbidly obese or have facial deformities. People who have taken antidepressants for serious mental disorders in the past two years are also not eligible, as are applicants who are blind, have schizophrenia or a terminal disease. Couples must be married at least two years, unless either person has been previously divorced -- in which case they aren't eligible to adopt until five years after their wedding. China also now requires prospective families to have an annual income equal to $10,000 per family member and at least $80,000 in assets.
The new rules were necessary to protect "the best interests of children" as foreign demand for children outstripped the supply of orphans, Lu Ying, director of the China Center for Adoption Affairs, told the state-run Xinhua news agency in early 2007. The rules ensure adopters "are able to offer the Chinese children adopted the best possible environment to grow in."
Adoption agencies at the time predicted stiffer requirements would reduce the number of applications rather than slow the rate of adoptions. "The new rules will help shorten waiting time for qualified foreigners and speed up the process for children, especially the disabled, so that they can go to their new families, where they can get better education and medical treatment, more quickly," Lu told Xinhua.
That hasn't been the case. China remains the number one source of adoptive children, but by 2011 the number of Chinese children adopted by foreign families had dropped by half compared to 2007, according to the Newcastle University survey.
Blitzer now waits behind a backlog of prospective parents. "I'm grandfathered in, so I'm still eligible for a healthy infant and frankly I don't want to lose my place in line," she said. "But I'm 55 now. My kid is going to high school. What is reasonable for both of us? What is affordable?"
As China slows international adoptions, the number of children filling its orphanages is climbing -- rising to 92,000 in 2011, almost a 50% rise from 2004, according to China's Ministry of Civil Affairs.
China isn't the only nation slowing the outflow of adoptions. Russia has long been the second-largest provider of orphans for international adoption. But last December, Russia passed a bill banning adoptions to the United States by 2014. The move is widely seen as retaliation for a law the United States passed in December on human rights abusers in Russia. Emotions have run high on the issue following the death of a three-year-old Russian boy adopted in Texas earlier this year, and the 2010 incident of a seven-year-old boy being sent back to Russia.
Other nations open, close
During her long wait for a second child from China, Blitzer has considered searching in other countries.
"Does it pay to move out of China to somewhere else? In the meantime, various countries have opened and shut down [their international adoptions]. Vietnam closed; I think Korea is iffy right now," Blitzer said. "Haiti has opened and closed since the earthquake and opened again; Russia has opened and closed. So it's a real conundrum about the right thing to do."
In May, Ghana became the latest country to suspend international adoptions, according to the U.S. State Department. It joins Bhutan, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Rwanda as states that have closed their doors.
South Korea plans to phase out international adoption, and adoptions to the United States from Nepal have effectively stopped. Authorized U.S. adoption agencies left the country after the State Department warned against adopting from the Himalayan nation. The United States doesn't currently accept adoptions from Cambodia, Montenegro, and Vietnam.
Starting in July, Colombia notified it would no longer accept applications of non-Colombian parents seeking to adopt a child under six years and 11 months old, unless it's a child with special needs.
The closures are a result of concerns the children are not, in fact, orphans. Many of the top sending countries to the United States in the last 15 years, like Guatemala, Nepal and Vietnam have halted or suspended adoptions because of serious concerns about kidnapping and corruption.
"There is an inherent naivety about international adoption that it does an absolute good, but it is inherently a high-risk venture," said David Smolin, a law professor at Samford University in Alabama, who adopted a pair of children from India in 1998 only to discover that they were stolen from their mother. "To not recognize that in the face of the evidence is almost criminal."
Before it closed in 2008, Guatemala sent one in every 100 children born for adoption abroad. The highest adoption rate ever recorded was South Korea in 1985, when 1.3 of every 100 children born were sent abroad for adoption, according to Selman, statistical adviser to the Hague Convention on international adoption.
In an attempt to regulate adoptions, many countries ratified the Hague Adoption Convention, which aims to avoid trafficking and make it easier for children to have their citizenship finalized in their new countries. A fundamental principle of the convention is that attempts should be made to place children in their own country before international adoption is considered.
Critics say the treaty, which the U.S. joined in 2008, has restricted adoptions.
Costs -- which can be as high as $50,000 -- continue to climb. The wait can stretch for years even after an adoptive parent and child are matched as the adoption paperwork wades through the bureaucracies of both sending and receiving nations.
"I was the lead sponsor of the Hague treaty and it was my expectation that after just a few years of implementation, we would be tripling and quadrupling the number of children adopted and the opposite has happened," said Senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana, in a recent documentary on international adoption. "Sometimes I've said to myself, 'why did I even help pass that treaty?'" The senator plans to introduce the "Children in Families First" legislation this week that aims to address these problems, a Landrieu staff member, who asked not be identified, told CNN.
End of the road?
UNICEF estimates that there are 151 million children who have lost at least one parent worldwide and 18 million who have lost both parents. Globally, there are more children living in foster care or institutions than there are being adopted, according to the United Nations. But most of these children are older and have special needs, and are not the healthy infants many adoptive parents typically desire.