The article on Romanian children {"Despite Aid, Romanian Children Face Bleak Lives," news story, Jan. 7} offers a distorted and damaging view of adoptions by foreigners. One would be led to believe that Romanian adoptions are dominated by unscrupulous lawyers, insensitive adoptive parents and corrupt court officials.

In July of 1990 the Romanian Parliament passed legislation that defines adoption procedures for Romanians and foreigners. Each foreigner must have a home study and an array of other documents intended to screen out those who are inappropriate for adoption. The new law requires a court hearing attended by the biological and adoptive families, as well as the district attorney, during which the birth mother's rights are terminated.

If the child is abandoned, there is a long and complicated process that must be carried out before the foreigner can adopt. Prospective adoptive parents must show perseverance and adaptability to cope with the economic conditions as well as delays associated with due process for the birth mother.

As head of an adoption agency, I know Romania is an important new source of adoptable children, but the number of adoptions by Americans -- about 200 per month, as reported by the U.S. Consulate in Bucharest -- hardly constitutes a "baby stampede."

Yet the media, both here and abroad, remain enamored of alleged adoption scandals. In 1988 the media played a major role in suspending adoptions from Brazil through coverage of a small group of foreigners who attempted to circumvent the law by forging birth certificates. Prior to that, scantily substantiated stories of baby buying in Mexico led to so many restrictions that now few children leave that country for adoption.

Yes, there will always be a few who try to operate outside the law in adoptions. However, the vast majority of adoption professionals in foreign countries are ethical. On my two recent visits to Romania, I have been struck by the integrity and honesty of my fellow adoption attorneys.

Most prospective adoptive parents want to comply with the law. When the media present a negative image of adoptive parents and the process, they jeopardize the opportunity for infertile couples to become parents and reduce the chances for needy children to find permanent homes with foreign families. MARK ECKMAN Executive Director, The Datz Foundation Washington