Adoption Awareness Month
Unless you have adopted, or are planning to do so, you may know little about children who need homes. Given that it is adoption awareness month, it seems only appropriate to give some general information about the world of adoption.
According to the U.S. Department of Human Services, there are 1.8 million adopted children in the United States; these children account for 2 percent of all children in the United States. Of those:
• 75 percent were adopted domestically.
• 37 percent through the foster care system.
• 38 percent through private services.
• 25 percent were adopted internationally.
About 75 percent of children are adopted by non-family members while 25 percent are adopted by relatives; seventeen percent of those adopted by relatives are adopted through the foster care system and 37 are adopted through private mediums.
There are several ways to adopt in the United States. One way is through the foster care system. In 2010, there were 107,000 children in the foster care system waiting to be adopted and 53,000 were adopted. The general process is that a state-licensed agency (either for-profit or non-profit) matches prospective parents to children in need of a home. Though substantially cheaper than all other types of adoption, many choose other means of adoption. This is because many people want newborns of a particular race, and foster care adoption houses children of all ages and races. Unfortunately, these children need a home just as much as all other children up for adoption.
A second way to adopt is through a private agency. Private agencies act as intermediaries between children and prospective parents in the matching process. Many choose this medium because the agency guides parents through the entire adoption process.
A third way to adopt is independently, i.e. privately. It is legal in most states, though Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, and Massachusetts do not allow it; the laws surrounding independent adoption vary from state-to-state. This process involves prospective parents independently seeking out biological parents who have put their child up for adoption; lawyers are used as intermediaries. Many choose this means of adoption because agencies have policies regarding parent-criteria and prospective parent-biological parent contact both during and after the adoption. Independent adoption allows both prospective parents and biological parents to set their own criteria. Prospective parents control the search process and have direct contact with the biological parents; both parties also decide if the child will have contact with the biological parents after the adoption process is finalized.
A fourth way to adopt is internationally. China, Russia, Guatemala, Korea, and Ethiopia are common countries from which children are adopted; however, about 80 other countries around the world adopt out children to parents from different countries. In 2010, over 11,000 children were adopted from other countries. Generally, parents use adoption services similar to domestic adoption services. Many choose to adopt internationally to help children in desperate situations; many times, children are undernourished, under-educated, or have disabilities. Others choose this process because, depending on country, it can be less costly.