Friday, October 25, 2013

Is There Really a Need in the U.S.? (Adoption Fears & Falsehoods Series)

When you're considering something as huge as adoption, there's bound to be some fears and questions that come up. In the first post in this series, I talked about the falsehood that says, "We could never afford to adopt!" Today, I want to focus on another falsehood that almost kept us from pursuing domestic adoption.  It's this:

The thinking goes kind of like this: "There's millions of kids languishing in orphanages all across the globe with no hope of a family. In the U.S. all I ever hear about adoption is the big waiting list and the years and years and years it takes to bring home a child. Surely there is not really a need for domestic adoption."

This much is true: there is a tremendous need for international adoption. According to Unicef's research, there are over 13 million orphans (children who have lost both parents) in the world. The need is astonishing...that's largely why Josh and I originally planned to adopt internationally. When we began considering adoption, we were very skeptical that a need really existed here in the U.S.  But over time we've learned that the great need to adopt internationally doesn't mean there's not a great need to adopt domestically.  

What about those big waiting lists?  Yes, there are some agencies with very large waiting lists. However, this does NOT mean that all agencies/adoption lawyers are overflowing with waiting adoptive families.  In fact, there are many agencies around the U.S. who need more adoptive families.  Many agencies have expectant mothers coming to them, and yet these agencies don't have enough waiting adoptive families willing to be presented to the pregnant mothers' specific situations. What "specific situations" am I referring to?

Justin Taylor re-posted this quote from The Atlantic: 
"[Y]ou want an infant? No problem: less than a month after we adopted our first child, our agency called us asking if we knew anyone at all with a completed home study. They had a healthy baby boy in a hospital and nobody willing to adopt him. (Agency rules didn’t allow us to take him before our first was completed) For our second, the agency tried for days to contact us around Christmas since we were the only people on the list who were willing to take him.
Why was it so hard to place them? Simple: the adoption market is built around healthy white infants. If you’re willing to remove even *one* of those conditions, the waiting list is short to non-existent."

Consider these stories and facts:
  • One adoption lawyer we spoke with said, "We're just lucky if we have one or two interested families to show some of these pregnant women." 
  • Just last week I heard an agency send out word, saying, "We are in desperate need of adoptive families!  So many expectant moms and not enough adoptive families!"
  • One adoption professional Josh and I spoke with last year said that he had a good number of waiting adoptive families, but only a couple of those were open to adopting non-white children.
  • The National Counsel for Adoption states that approximately 22,000 infants are adopted each year domestically...and that's JUST infants.
Yes, there is a need for adoption here. Still not convinced?  You have only to look to the Foster Care system to let all the questions about "need" in the U.S. fall by the wayside.
  • The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute states that 400,540 children here are in foster care.
  • AdoptUSKids in its excellent breakdown of state-specific information says 19,431 children are in foster care in Illinois right now; 3,347 of these children are waiting for adoptive families (the rest are still in reunification processes w/their birth families). These children are very much in need of a family!

There is most certainly a need in the U.S. for adoption. If you've held back from pursuing domestic adoption because you're not convinced that there is actually a need here, please take to heart these statistics and stories.  Don't let this specific falsehood hold you back from missing the gift of adoption!

(Note: I'm not trying to say that anyone that tries can adopt an infant in less than a month. Timing is different for each family. I chose to include that story as an illustration that there is, indeed, a need in the U.S. for adoption.)

(If you have any further questions about domestic adoption, please contact me at

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