Are you waiting to adopt? Is your name on a list somewhere, and you’re hoping to be matched with the right child? Did you know you can be proactive in your search to complete your family and that children are waiting for adoption? It sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? Especially if you have been waiting in uncertainty, wondering when you will get matched. Many kids are overlooked because of their age, needs, or because they are part of a sibling group.
Each state has a photo listing database of children waiting for adoption. There are also national databases of children waiting to find a forever family. It is possible to adopt from another state with the proper paperwork. When adopting from another state the process may take longer, but try not to be discouraged. If you find a child that you believe is a good match for you, reach out to the caseworker for more information. When adopting from another state, the process will still include home studies and visitations. There is often a specific amount of time the child must stay in your home before finalizing the adoption to be sure the family is a match.
Almost 108,000 children are waiting for adoption in the U.S. foster care system. This is the number of cases where the child is legally ready and waiting to find their family. Another 300,000 kids are being fostered that are not yet legally free for adoption and may return home or be placed in kinship care. However, if you are a foster to adopt home and the child in your care becomes available, you are usually allowed to adopt the child if you wish to.
If you have a current adoption home study completed, you may browse these websites and contact the social workers for more information on children you believe may be a good fit for your family. Most inquiries require the submission of a completed home study to receive detailed information regarding children waiting for adoption. The states and caseworkers need to know you are ready and able to adopt before giving out personal or confidential information.
Children who are waiting for adoption in foster care have often been waiting years. The average wait for a child to be adopted when in foster care is 21 months. Some children wait longer and age out of the system when they turn 18 years old. The average age of children available in foster care for adoption is 7 years old. Many foster care adoptions are the result of infants placed in foster care and are then adopted by their foster families after the biological parents’ rights have been terminated. Sadly, many children waiting for adoption are older children who are overlooked due to age or special needs.
It is common to think of adoption in terms of bringing home a “baby.” That is not always the case. Many older children need permanency and family too. And while an older child may not have been what you had pictured initially, an older child adoption can be wonderful too. Maybe you aren’t a “baby” person, but love hanging out with kids? Older child adoption may be perfect for you.
Oftentimes, sibling groups are waiting to be adopted together. This can mean waiting even longer to find permanency and a forever family. If you are thinking of adopting more than one child, please consider a sibling group. While it may feel overwhelming to bring in several children at once, you would be able to help children who are bonded stay together. There are other benefits to adopting a sibling group as well. The children have each other for comfort and familiarity, which will help ease the transition into your home. Children often have more information to share about their past and history. Biological siblings who have dealt with the same trauma before being adopted may be able to help each other cope.
One important thing to know when considering adopting older children (any child past the infancy stage) is that there may be attachment disorders or mental health issues based on their early childhood trauma. If they have been in and out of foster care or have moved around a lot, they are at risk for these issues. They are also at risk if they were often neglected during the first two years of their lives. It is important to have adequate resources to help if the child needs therapy or other help. It is also important for you to be able to recognize if a child is suffering from issues related to trauma. Trauma behavior cannot be “loved” away. In early childhood trauma (including reactive attachment disorder), a child has had their brain altered by the traumatic events. Caseworkers and adoption agencies should be able to provide you with resource options to help.
If you are hoping to adopt an infant, having a home study completed and current is important. Many infant foster placements are with families who are considered a foster to adopt home, with much of the adoption paperwork (home study) and visits completed. While no foster placement is a guarantee to move towards adoption, social workers will place children that are legal risk cases (cases that have the potential to become adoption placements) with families who would like to adopt from foster care. Infants whose biological parents have utilized the haven laws and safely abandoned newborns in designated locations are often placed with foster-to-adopt families. Mandatory wait times may still apply before legal adoption (often six months in-home, but may vary). These cases often move faster than other cases as biological parents may be unidentified. This means that the process will not include visitations with biological parents, or have any chance of appeals. Other times infants born to parents unable to take care of them safely are placed with adoption-ready foster parents. While the biological family is still able to try to reunite with the child, the child is in a home that is ready to adopt if the option becomes available. Each area is different in the time constraints of what they must legally do before termination of parental rights. Sometimes, a biological parent might realize within the allotted time for reunification that they are not capable of meeting the safety guidelines and will terminate their rights voluntarily. Other times, biological parents will have rights terminated involuntarily, with much documentation and supporting evidence of the need for out-of-home placement by caseworkers. These situations can be a much longer process.
Private agencies often have waiting lists for hopeful parents to adopt infants. The wait to adopt an infant through a private agency adoption can be years. There are many more potential parents waiting than there are infants available to be placed. It is helpful for placement if you are willing to adopt a child with special needs and of either gender and any race. The more restrictions you have in your profile, the harder it is to find a match for an available child.
Domestic adoption agencies sometimes have children waiting for adoption that are born with special medical needs and require specialized care. Special needs infants can also be found within the foster care system as well. If you are interested in children waiting for adoption who may have special medical needs, be sure to tell the caseworkers and have your profile reflect that option. Children and infants with special needs often wait longer for placement than children that are born healthy.
Typically, when adopting a waiting child from the foster care system, the cost is minimal. Some tax credits may apply to ease some of the cost. Additionally, in some areas, costs can be reimbursed through the state or county you are working with.
When adopting an infant from a private agency, costs can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. If that isn’t feasible for you, but you are interested in pursuing adoption, foster care adoption might be a good option for you.
In addition to these children in the U.S., there are also international children waiting for adoption. If you are interested in adopting from another country, you can access some photo listings for these children online, at www.holtinternation.org, www.rainbowkids.org, and internationaladoption.org to name a few sites. International adoption has more requirements than state or even interstate adoption. The cost will also likely be greater as it will include travel, sometimes several times, to the country where the child is located. You will want to meet the child you are matched with and will likely return for the actual adoption proceedings. Older children waiting for adoption in other countries often have similar behavioral and mental health issues as older children in foster care. Sometimes, international children have spent time in orphanages, something that is no longer commonplace in the U.S. In some instances, there is little known about the children, medically or otherwise. Sometimes, children are left in orphanages by parents who simply cannot take care of them but hope to return when they can. There have been instances where the children were placed for adoption without the knowledge or consent of their parents. Other times, medical needs cannot be met by families and so they are reluctantly placed for adoption in hopes they can receive the proper medical care the biological family is unable to provide. In some cases, children have waited in orphanages for extended periods of time to be placed with their biological families or with a family within their country only to be placed on international adoption lists when those options don’t produce a permanent placement option. It is important for children of all ages and needs to have a permanent place to call home and a family to love them.
Some things to consider if you are thinking of pursuing international adoption of an older child or sibling group are the following:
-financial responsibilities associated with international adoption
-what do you know about the child’s country of origin and how will you incorporate his heritage or traditions that are important to him into his life with you
-the potential language barrier
-available resources to help with any special needs, mental health, and medical situations
The potential language barrier can be a huge obstacle when looking into children waiting for adoption internationally. Many of these children will not speak your language. If you are fluent in another language, considering the areas where that language is spoken would be helpful. For a child leaving her country, having someone who can communicate with her in her own language would be a good start to begin the bonding and healing process. It would be difficult to have a total communication barrier. A child would not be able to communicate fear, sickness, or even simple things like food preferences. Imagine the frustration of not understanding each other and how frightening that could be. It would be helpful to take steps to make communication as effortless as possible for both you and the child(ren).
It would also be helpful to be aware of cultural norms and traditions that are familiar to the child or children. Learning about the food and customs of their country would help them feel more at home. Imagine going to a foreign country and walking into a home you have never seen with people you don’t know and the child is suddenly expected to thrive. Some of these children have not lived in a family environment before and do not know how to function within a family. These children will require a lot of patience in their transition. If you feel you can provide a safe, loving, patient home for an international child, you can complete an international home study to pursue adoption from the country of your choice. Many countries allow the adoption of children to the U.S., but not all. If you have a country in mind, it is important to do your research in making sure an international adoption is possible and what steps you need to take. Each country has its own requirements for potential adopters. There are many agencies available to help with these requirements and regulations.
In summary, if you are waiting to adopt, think about looking at some profiles of children who may be waiting for you to find them. Open your heart and mind to the possibilities of older kids or those with special needs.
Do you feel there is a hole in your heart that can only be filled by a child? We’ve helped complete 32,000+ adoptions. We would love to help you through your adoption journey. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.