Over 400,000 children enter the U.S. foster care system each year and about half will not be able to return to their biological families. That means a large number of children each year are eligible to be adopted. Once they turn ten their chances of being adopted decrease significantly. Many older children will linger in the foster care system for many years. Each year about 26,000 youths age out of the foster care system without ever being adopted. By writing this book we wanted to educate the public about the needs of these children and encourage more to consider older child adoption both here and abroad.
Here is a video of Stephanie saying a few words about the needs of older children in the foster care system, how many are eligible to be adopted, and the challenges faced by youth who age of the system without a permanent family.
A single person or couple must decide what type of adoption is best for them and their family. Prospective adoptive parents vary in their income, ability to travel, interests in adopting children from a specific cultural group, and willingness to maintain contact with biological family members. Parents with lower-incomes many only be able to adopt domestically due to the negligible costs of adopting from the U.S. foster care system. For prospective parents with higher incomes the travel and agency costs of intercountry adoption may not be a barrier. Some people feel a sense of obligation to adopt from their own country since so many children are in need right in their backyards, while others feel more comfortable adopting a foreign child. An important component of many people’s decision is their willingness to have contact with their adoptive child’s biological family. Children adopted domestically will be more likely to have a continuing relationship with biological family members including siblings or grandparents as compared to their internationally adopted counterparts. This is due to the simple fact that they may have preexisting relationships with family members and that these family member may live close by. Children adopted from another country most likely have completely lost contact with their biological family or have never known them, making continuing contact a moot issue. A final factor that contributes to some families’ decisions to adopt from another country is their own ethnic background or familiarity with a country they’ve spent time in which leads them to want to adopt a child from that culture or country. Prospective parents should become family with both types of adoption before making their final decision. An important part of the decision-making process is to speak to adoptive parents about their experience adopting domestically or through a specific country program.