PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -

Silvia and Tony Signoret, of Palm Springs, had two children of their own. The thought of adoption wasn't an option.

"Never. We just planned on fostering and helping out some children," said Mrs. Signoret, the president of For the Children Foster Adoptive Parent Association.

However, things changed and they adopted children born in Riverside County. "And now we're on number seven," she said.

After decades of steady growth, the number of international adoptions has dropped nearly 50 percent since 2004. The decline, not because there are fewer orphans or prospective parents, but rather rising expenses and regulations in countries such as China and Russia.

"I call them token children. It's the thing to do to adopt from China, so everyone's going to go get them from China," said Signoret.

China's stiff requirements allow single women to only adopt children with special needs. Adoptions to foreigners who are morbidly obese or have facial deformities are prohibited in the country. Last December, Russia banned adoptions by Americans.

"It's just unbelievable the red tape they have to go through," said Signoret.

People looking to adopt overseas may face costly and heartbreaking challenges but For the Children encourages prospective adoptive parents to consider adopting locally, reporting that more than 5,000 children in Riverside County are in foster care and need of a home.

Signoret said the process to take in a local child is feasible and more cost-effective.

"The paperwork is not that big of a deal. The biggest thing is they're free. You can take the thousands of dollars you spend on getting children from out of the country and put it into their education," she said.

If you're interested in adopting locally and have questions on how to get started, you can go to forthechildrefapa.org.