Adoption supply and demand

Some 600,000 women want to adopt a child, with plenty of parents being open to older children and those with special needs. Some 129,000 children in the foster care system need to be adopted. Yet only some 8,000 a year become a part of someone’s family. Why? Needless bureaucratic obstacles. See Jeff Katz – Adoption’s Numbers Mystery – washingtonpost.com. Do any of you have experience with this?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Manxman

    My wife and I took in foster kids for a few years early in our marriage as our family was growing. Our oldest daughter currently is providing foster care in an emergency situation for a pair of infants.

    Foster care is one of those things that sounds really nice until you actually start doing it. At the very least it’s going to involve hard work and probably a lot of conflict and emotional drama added to your life because foster kids often come with a lot of baggage and difficult relatives to complicate the situation. It takes a whole lot more than a desire to love and good intentions, especially if you’ve never been a parent before.

    There are very good reasons why there is a deliberate, rigorous process for screening potential foster parents. Not everyone who thinks they can do it actually can.

  • Ryan

    I don’t think the argument in the article is that there shouldn’t be a rigorous and deliberate process for foster parents or adoption but that the process has too much “red tape”. If the Dems and GOP are serious about reducing abortions, making adoption a viable choice bureaucratically would be part of the solution.

    Full Disclosure: My parents worked in the mid 70s with then assembly leader (later Gov.) Tommy Thompson to streamline the process of adoption in Wisconsin and lower fees and… they ended up with ME! I am truly blessed and advocate for adoption as an alternate to abortion whenever I can.

  • The Jones

    I work at a residential facility, that is kind of like the holding facility for the state when the foster system overloads. My parents also are foster parents and almost adopted two children out of the foster system. But a separate path was chosen for those two children. They are about to go for round number two.

    I consider myself fairly knowledgeable of the foster/adoption system through this. There are more complicated factors than just “You want kids; we’ve got ‘em.” The older the children get, the more complicated it gets. Like Manxman said, most who come from the foster system have strings attached. Family strings come attached. Many times children are reluctant to be adopted because despite the horrible conditions at home, they don’t want to “betray” their mother or father (even though they are incapable of providing any support for them). Family ties run deep. And many times the children are attached to someone who will bring them hardship, or at least a bad example. Those situations get complicated, and take the attitude of “You want ‘em; we’ve got ‘em,” then we are ignoring the emotional bonds that we supposedly want to build.

    I would be interested to see if those 600,000 women are those who answer a poll saying “Um…sure, I’d adopt,” or if they are actually taking steps to make that a reality. That’s a huge difference. There are some steps and training that regular parents are going to need in order to help the children they take in.

    That being said, after working in my current job, I am a little ashamed that Christians haven’t invaded social services. I imagine that perfectly arranged and unused guest bedrooms will not be a positive contribution to your record on judgment day. Something about a “What you do for the least of these” thing that I read somewhere. If there is any place on earth that Christians are needed, it’s in social services. But we don’t need verbal support, we need real commitment.

  • http://www.myownthoughts.com Suzi

    Friends of mine who had already adopted were looking to adopt a second child. The Child Protective System tanked their adoption application, and told them they did, because they said they spanked their child. They agreed to never do so again, if that was necessary, but still they did not get to adopt.

    And, yes, they were trying to adopt an older child.

  • mamaof2

    I wonder how many of the children in foster care are actually adoptable. Many times kids are removed from their homes and their parent(s) given so many tries to clean up their acts, that the kids just sit in limbo for years and years. I know that we have to be careful not to terminate parental rights prematurely, but it is ridiculous and nasty to leave children in foster care for years.

  • William

    My instinct would be to concur with some of the commenters above: the screening process must be (annoyingly) complex to avoid major pitfalls such as 1)Reducing the risk that the parents “give up” with a difficult child and return him to an orphanage, 2) ensuring the well-meaning couple actually has the resources to take on the children, 3) ensuring the couple will not abuse the child, etc.

    Of course, with Suzi’s comment about being denied because of spanking, it makes me wonder if the CPS needs to stop reading Dr. Spock.

  • Anon

    There is a lot of ideology involved. Which is why the Catholic Church had to get out of adoption in Britain. It was deny the Faith or cease helping with adoptions. We may well see that here in a few months.

    Christianity is seen as a reason to not allow a couple to adopt. It is seen as a sign of stupidity, child abuse, and evil.

    There are the racist elements: whites aren’t allowed to adopt non-whites through the means of the government child services.

    The new administration is going to be *very* hostile to Christianity, including Christian parents, adoptive parents, home schools and Christian schools.

    With the drive towards mandatory government preschool and mandatory ‘volunteer’ community service burdens being laid upon home-schoolers and private schools, all written as if they don’t exist, the State as Mother, the State as Father appears to be the intention and policy of the Triumvirs.

    Adoption of UN rules concerning children is also virtually certain, which will further curtail Christian parenting, let alone adoption.

  • Torina

    I adopted three older children from foster care. The system is wrought with challenges. My kids are wonderful but it is all about perspective. I am not afraid of disabilities or issues surrounding neglect, abuse, and trauma. Many people are very afraid. People tell me all the time that I am a saint and that they “could never do what I am doing”. What people really mean is that they do not want to do what I am doing. And that is fine. This is something that you have to want or need to do or it won’t work.

    Personally, I believe the largest hindrance is in the first steps of the process. There are barriers every step you take…and not easy ones. Ones like people treat you like scum for even wanting one of these “damaged” children. They treat you like something is wrong with you and work to weed you out from the beginning. Once they realize you are in it “for real”, they tiredly slog through the process. Of course, not everyone is like this…but most of the people that I encountered are…

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    It sounds like Christians need to publicize what’s going on and talk to legislators. This isn’t the only area where social workers have gotten out of hand–just ask any homeschooling family, or for that matter, anyone wanting to go into social work, but doesn’t do well at parroting the party line.

  • FW

    My experience with adoptions in the state of california is that couples want a newborn, healthy baby that is the same race that they are.

    I hope this doesn´t sound mean, but it sorta looked like people going the animal shelter to adopt a puppy. sort of the same mentality. Only a few couples seemed open to the idea of a child who was older or who had some physical or mental defect.

    California seems to try to steer prospective adopters to the foster child process. this again is a turnoff for most prospective adopters.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    I am adopting a child from India and let me tell you there is A LOT of red tape. Our child will have spent the first two years of her life in an orphanage because of paperwork. Besides, we’re shelling out $25,000 for legal fees, agency fees and government fees. Then we have to travel.

    I think that most people think that the adoption process is daunting and expensive. It is a lot of paperwork, but it isn’t impossible. Something needs to be done to expidite the process, though. It is a shame that babies have to live in orphanages for such a long time.

    There is nothing wrong wanting a young child. Older children do come with lots of pain and trauma. I don’t know if I could deal with that sort of emotional upheaval as a first-time mom, though we haven’t ruled it out down the road.

  • William

    Sarah in Maryland: Regarding the $25,000 of fees, my concern now is whether somebody is making a abnormally large profit off orphans. Everybody wants a piece of the pie, and it shows in the amount of paperwork and money changing hands.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K. (TK)

    Sarah,

    My brother and his wife paid that much, as well. It was a domestic adoption and they ended up providing the mother with a place to live for the final trimester. There was one main lawyer making a bulk of the money; she lives in a gorgeous gated community in a mansion. She did offer a discount for a second adoption. I hate to sound pro-regulation, but….


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