What you should know about adoption in America

Who pursues adoption? What kind of people are looking to adopt a child? Most people first assume that infertile and gay couples are the most likely to adopt. However, about a third of adoptions are carried out by single women and men, according to childwelfare.gov. It is not only people who are incapable of having a genetic child that choose to adopt.

I was first informed about adoption from a middle school teacher who told us a little synopsis of her life on the first day of class. She had never married, and when she was in her mid-30s, she decided to become a parent and adopt two daughters abroad. She raised them for the first ten years of their life completely on her own until she later did end up getting married. Nobody had ever told me what adoption was like until that moment, and it was soon after that that I decided that no matter what may happen, I wanted to adopt a child later in life. However, through all of the years of research, there was a lingering question in the back of my mind: what’s it like to be someone who is adopted?

Katie Coyle ’18, Psychology, was adopted as an infant – as was her sister, Megan. Her parents were unable to conceive children and chose to adopt through a local Catholic adoption agency. She found out she was adopted around five or six years old and adapted to the new knowledge well. Recently she discovered more about her birth parents. “I know their names, I know their majors, and where they went to college. And like the situation of my birth, but I don’t know personal information besides their first names,” Coyle said.

Katie and her sister Megan prove that a family doesn't need to have a biological connection to love each other.

Katie and her sister Megan prove that a family doesn’t need to have a biological connection to love each other.

She has chosen not to contact them as of yet but plans to in the near future. She believes it was for the best that she was adopted, as she adores her adoptive family. If and when Katie does contact her birth parents, she plans to always refer to her adoptive family as her true family.

The way that Katie and Megan were adopted is usually what comes to mind when we think of adoption: there was a pregnant woman, and they chose to give their child up for adoption for whatever reason, and they were instead raised by a different set of parents or parent. That is a relatively common practice, but usually, it is a private agency that orchestrates these adoptions. However, there is another side to adoption. There are those who are not put up for adoption when they are born or shortly after birth, but those that are put up for adoption when they are older, and sometimes much older.
So how do older children end up in the adoption system?

Children that are placed in the foster care system are often there because their original homes were not suited for them, or their parents were unable to take care of them. Generally speaking, the state takes the child out of the home because it is not a suitable environment for the child. In these instances, the children are almost always placed in the system when they are of school age and have a hard time trying to find a home to stay with permanently. Foster care is a temporary living situation for a child to have support until they can be placed up for adoption or reunited with their family. This is usually a period used to assess what the child needs most out of a family. The foster family reports back to the child’s social worker on what they struggle with the most and what their positive behaviors are. The children that are to be placed for adoption have profiles created for them that are posted by their social worker on the state’s adoption site (and often on a national adoption website as well). The children then remain in foster care until they are adopted, or until they age out of the system.
According to childwelfare.gov, “The median age of the children in foster care on September 30, 2013, was 8.2 years.” And according to AdoptUSkids.org, a website dedicated to domestic adoption that is connected with each state’s public adoption organizations, there is a high number of kids in the foster system waiting to be adopted. “Each year more than 20,000 children age out of the foster care [sic] without being adopted. Today there are 108,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted ranging in age from less than a year old to 21.” Children who are older and placed in the adoption system are a lot less likely to be adopted and are more likely to age out of the system. So when a child turns 18 to 21 years old, depending on the state, the child is taken out of the foster care system and is left to figure out their lives on their own. It effectively makes those children parentless. The prospects are not pretty for kids that age out of the system.
All of this would indicate that there’s a growing need for people to consider adoption as a meaningful choice to starting or growing a family. Whether that be a baby or a teenager is up to the person considering adoption, but regardless of age, all of the children need a home. If you’re considering adopting a child, contact your local county’s humane services. Similarly to having a child of your own, it is a lengthy process and can be time-consuming. If you’re prepared enough to go through pregnancy, you’re likely just as prepared to adopt a child. It is well worth considering the option of giving a home to a child in need of one. “I’ve seen the beauty that can come from it, and I feel like it’ll pay off,” said Coyle, reassuring those in doubt of whether or not to adopt.
I personally plan on adopting older children later in life. I’ve read through countless personal biographies of the kids who are up for adoption and the one thing they all say, one way or another is, “I need a home.” I cannot imagine what it must feel like to be in the foster care system. Instead of just feeling sorry for their situation, I’ve chosen to act and help take care of at least a few kids that find themselves in a hard spot in life. I can’t adopt them all though! Whether you’re a man, woman, married, single, gay, straight, infertile, already a parent, live in an apartment or live in a mansion you are eligible to adopt. Most kids do not discriminate about who their parent is; they just want someone to love them for who they are, just like we all do.

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