and tips on adopting a child.
How does the adoption
Under state and
federal laws, before exploring adoption possibilities, state child
welfare agencies are required to try to reunite children with
their parents when a child's safety can be assured. States are
required to make a determination regarding reunification or
adoption within one year.
Between 50 and 70%
of all children initially placed in foster care eventually are
returned to their parents.
is not possible, state and federal laws require efforts to find a
permanent home for a child, preferably through adoption. All state
laws require that, before an adoption can take place, the legal
rights of the biological parents be severed through a state court
Who are the children
who need adoptive homes?
One group consists
of children, primarily infants, whose parents voluntarily
relinquish them for adoption; little is known about these children
or the nature of their adoptive placements because their parents
generally deal with private adoption agencies or make private
placements with adoptive families.
A second group of
children are those who have been placed in foster care based on
court determination that they were abused or neglected, and for
whom reunification efforts have been unsuccessful.
In December 1990,
there were approximately 69,000 foster children in the country for
whom state agencies had determined that adoption was the
appropriate goal. Approximately 20,000 of these children were
legally free to be adopted (their parents' legal rights to ever
regain custody had been terminated) and were waiting to be
of the children awaiting adoption were white, 43% African
American, 7% Hispanic. Only four percent of these children were
under age 1; 36% were between the ages of 1 and 5; 43% were 6-12
years of age; and 17% were over the age of 12. The median age was
Two out of three
waiting children have special needs: medical, developmental,
behavioral or psychological.
How long do children
wait for adoption?
Of the children
awaiting adoption at the end of 1990, approximately 46% had
already waited two years.
substantially longer to find homes for minority children. Older
children and sibling groups irrespective of race also have longer
Many children are
never adopted, even though their biological parents' parental
rights have been terminated.
Why does it take so
long and why do so many children go unadopted?
homes for older children and those with emotional or physical
problems requires aggressive action by agencies, and most of the
children waiting for adoption fall into these categories.
In 1990, 43% of the
children waiting for adoption were 6 to 12 years old; only 4% were
infants. Two out of three children--a doubling since1982--had some
special need: they were disabled, older, had siblings, or were
Lengthy processes to
terminate parental rights, lack of financial resources for
adoption, excessive caseloads and difficulty in recruiting foster
and adoptive families contribute to the slow adoption of many of
There is some
evidence that the adoption of minority children is being slowed
because some foster care and adoption agencies are unwilling or
reluctant to place these children with non-minority families. Some
state agencies have followed explicit or implicit policies that
make race or ethnicity the primary consideration in placement thus
reducing the pool of available families.
What is the Clinton
Administration doing to increase adoptions?
is ensuring that states make full and effective use of the
Adoption Assistance program, which provides critical economic
support to families who adopt special needs children, since they
may have large medical and other expenses. Under the Clinton
Administration, the number of children for whom adoption subsidies
are provided has increased by about 30%.
Grants have been
provided to public and private agencies to develop successful
models for recruiting families, provision of post-legal adoption
services, support for parent groups, and the development of
has conducted national and regional leadership conferences to
build the capacity of public and private agencies to facilitate
the adoption of minority and special needs children.
provides support for the National Adoption Exchange, the Adoption
Clearinghouse, the National Resource Center for Special Needs
Adoption, and the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical
is committed to fully enforcing the Multiethnic Placement Act and
Section 1808(c) of the Small Business Job Protection Act, whose
non-discrimination and recruitment provisions should increase the
number of children who are adopted. •The Clinton Administration
has expressed strong concerns about "welfare reform"
proposals that would jeopardize these programs and eliminate the
guarantee of federal funds to help support adoptions.
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