Working in adoption provides us with so much joy. It also gives us lots of heart ache. We fear for the children who need and won't ever have a family to care for them, hug and nurture them. We worry about the families who want to love a child, but for whom birthing or adopting a child seems elusive and impossible.
Lately we've noticed an increase in foster care/adoption inquiries coming in to our offices. To say this excites us is an understatement. It thrills us to think that more waiting children might soon have a mom to help with homework, or a sibling to teach them to cook. It makes us nutty happy to think that more childless adults may soon know the boundless love of a child. We've always promoted the idea that adopting a waiting child from the U.S. foster care system is not only helpful, but life changing in the best way possible.
For families living in Hawai'i, adopting from the foster care system is not an option. Hawai'i supports a reunification mandate, which means that birth families are prioritized, sought out, and supported in finding a way to care for their birth children. Occasionally, in cases where no family is known, or all family members are unable, unwilling, or in rare cases, unfit, a child may need a resource care home. In those cases a family who has been trained and who has signed up to be a foster family, might be asked to permanently adopt a child.
Unlike Hawai'i, 48 other U.S. states, participate in the AdoptUSKids project. AdoptUSKids does a wonderful job of both publishing information about waiting children and how to adopt them, and also hosts dozens of individual state and county waiting child websites.
The information provided, and the case workers supporting the children, do a good job. We've met so many deeply committed and hard working case workers over the years. Each seems to care greatly for the children in their case load, and it's heart warming to hear them highlight a child's strengths, while noting concern about individual needs. We've sat in on inter-disciplinary (Zoom) meetings wherein five or more staff will be present to talk about one child.
Here are some helpful facts about adopting a child through the US waiting child system:
1) There are hundreds of thousands of children waiting today, for an adoptive family.
2) Prospective parents receive every available report, medical screening data, and insight into a child before committing to him or her or them.
3) Unlike private (domestic or international) adoption, adopting from the U.S. foster care system costs at most a few thousand dollars. In many cases any direct expenses carried by the adopting family, would be reimbursed by the child's sending state.
4) In most cases, and this part is the most beneficial to your future child, information about birth family is available, and will allow your child to maintain or develop a relationship with his/her/their birth family.
5) During and post adoption (processing) families and their children can receive wrap-around support for many years. Our agency, A Family Tree, offers support and counseling, and can guide families with individualized parenting plans.
6) Many of the children on the AdoptUSKids website are in the process of being considered by a family. While we love seeing all these incredible faces, love the site, and promote it for all the good work that it accomplishes, we also caution against falling in love with a particular child or with the idea of a child. There's more to say about this, but suffice to say that children need to be accepted for who they are, not who we want them to be.
There are children waiting for parents.
So, if you're able or interested, please take a few minutes and check out AdoptUSKids.org website. Maybe you can't adopt a child but as with most things, just knowing, and caring is a good, small step towards helping.
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