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USA Adoption Slow-down?

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At Abrazo, we're famous for reminding folks that we always seek to "shoot straight" with our clients, even when we're telling them news they don't want to hear, because we think good adoptions are steeped in honesty and openness.

In that interest, we bring you the following New York Times article: No Increase in America's Adoption Rates

Why is this? Board member Renee Todd, who used to also work at the agency, always theorized that in lean times, expectant parents are more inclined to cling to that which is theirs and less inclined to fall victim to the societal influences that inspire the pursuit of less-domestic goals (ie., schooling, career, material gain).

At Abrazo, we've seen a slow-down both in prospective birthparent inquiries and adoptive parent applications, although the majority of adopting parents in our program are still seeing placement opportunities arise within the 6-12 month average waiting period quoted on our website.

The expectant mothers who do contact us for services are often needing (or requesting) maternity support earlier than in years past, which does increase the overall adoption costs when such aid is approved; we are also finding that private pay medical expenses for labor & delivery, for birthparents without Medicaid or insurance coverage, have doubled (and tripled, in some inexplicable cases.)

Will the economy make new victims of our smallest citizens, some of whom are undoubtedly remaining with parents-of-origin who are unwilling to consider the adoption option even when they ought to do so? Will this increase the national welfare tab and the state child protection rolls, in years to come? Or is the eventual abolition of voluntary/private adoption in America a good thing, in the end run?

At Abrazo, we don't purport to have all the answers. But we do strive to continue offering quality adoption services to those who still need them, for as long as the Good Lord enables us to do so.

(Many thanks to those whose tax-deductible holiday contributions are helping us to respond to those in need-- adopting parents and birthparents alike. The economy has hit small, private agencies like Abrazo-- which receive no public funding or grants-- hard, and we truly could not keep the doors open and our fees affordable without the support of our loyal donors, whose gifts help offset the difference between our operating costs and the expenses reimbursed through adoption fees collected each year.)

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Are you seeing any changes in what potential birth parents are seeking in potential adoptive parents during these times?

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The one variation I'm noticing is that fewer expectant parents seem willing to consider matching with adoptive couples who live out of state.

I think this is because the hurting economy makes it painfully evident to them that they may not have opportunity to actually see their child after placement, if their child isn't living within the same region, statewise (perhaps because they fear neither they nor the adoptive parents may have the means to travel?)

Over the years, we've noticed that it is also getting harder and harder to get prospective birthparents to consider matching or placing with couples who already have multiple children (whether adopted or biological), but whether this is related to the recession or not remains unclear.

Good question, erin!

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Thanks for your quick reply, Elizabeth. While it's not very good news for a family like ours (out of state, and with one child already), I definitely would rather hear the truth. We'll just have to hope that there is one set of potential birth parents that we appeal to!

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Please know that my response was not meant to discourage our out-of-state clientele, but rather, to lend them insight that may empower them in their pursuit of the "right" match... so they (you!) can anticipate an expectant parent's concerns during that first call, and say--if it's true-- "We know some birthparents are hesitant to match with out-of-state couples because they're afraid they wouldn't have the opportunity to see their child over the years. If being able to see your child as he/she grows is important to you, we'll make a point of traveling back to Texas yearly/coming to Camp Abrazo each summer, so you can have those special visits. Please be assured that we won't let the geographical distance between our state and yours keep us or you from having a truly open adoption, because that's important to us!"

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I am curious if the need for foster parents has increased or decreased during this trying economic time?

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I don't think the need for foster homes EVER slows down, because the number of involuntary removals is always (sadly) on the rise... :(

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In the past (when I was doing child abuse work), we did notice an increase in the number of cases of abuse reported during tough economic times.

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It's good news for special needs kids, of course... but bad news for domestic adopters. However, it's not just domestic adoption agencies that are going under: international adoption agencies are closing up shop, as well. And yet another agency's closing announcement (click here) suggests that 60 American agencies have recently shut their doors.

Even Utah's venerable Children's Aid Society, in operation for 100 years, is considering shutting down: story here.

What needs to happen to turn this around? Read one organization's assessment of the falling domestic adoption numbers here.

There's no question that Abrazo, too, is feeling the pinch, as placements have slowed down and families are waiting longer for fewer calls from prospective birthparents.

Yet the number of unplanned pregnancies remain consistent; the problem we see is that Texas is being steadily inundated with out-of-state baby brokers trolling our state for moms unaware that adoption facilitators aren't even permitted in Texas. We continually report these illicit adoption planners to our state licensing authority, but even they cannot keep up with the lawbreakers.

We're in it to win it for the children we serve, so your hearty AbrazoChicks will continue to persevere, even though the combined pressures of falling domestic adoption numbers and increasing operating costs in the current economy may force us to make changes in our staffing or our programming and/or procedures.

We still believe that God has a plan for Abrazo and its people, and we press forward, in faith! as we strive to continue our strong tradition of helping parents in need plan brighter futures for the children that so deserve nothing less!

Thank you for your continued patience and prayers.

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Elizabeth-

We are here for you. Praying God's protection on this agency as well as others. Praying there will be a swing upward and beyond for the agency. As I sit here today and reflect on what God has done with the help and facilation through Abrazo, I'm in amazement over TY.

Keep the faith. God can turn it around :D

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Thanks, Dyna... we've been so blessed with great clientele over the years!

We've never seen teens as the primary birthparent client served by agencies like ours, but we do suspect this apparent change in pregnancy demographics may be having some impact on the current adoption wait time: Expectant Mothers Over 35 Now Outnumber Pregnant Teens

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Just out today: Lower Birth Rates for US Women Tied to Economy.

As stated in the Associated Press story:

The U.S. birth rate dropped for the third straight year, with declines for most ages and all races, according to a federal report released Thursday. Teens and women in their early 20s had the most dramatic dip to the lowest rates since record-keeping began in the 1940s.

Concurrently, Foreign Adoptions Fall Again.

What this means, unfortunately, for those who are waiting to adopt domestically is that there continues to be an ever-shrinking "pool" of mothers in need of placement options, and there's an ever-growing field of prospective adopters, agencies, attorneys and facilitators competing for that decreasing supply of available children.

Ironically, Abrazo has been blessed to be busy this year, but we still strive to prepare our parents-in-waiting for the reality that while most of our agency's placements occur within 6-12 months of our adoptive families' submission of profile and homestudy, adoption can and does take longer than that, sometimes. (And may increasingly require more patience, due to realities such as described in the news stories above.)

If anything, it just affirms the need for adoptive families to be as expansive in their "child requirements" as possible (ie., stretching one's openness to a variety of scenarios and opportunities.../races/genders/ages) and engaging in all the outreach that's possible (advertising on Parent Profiles, handing out "Help Us Adopt" business cards, using social networking to spread the word that you are seeking to match with an interested expectant mom, etc.) Take heart: there are still plenty of children in need of loving homes; it just might take more time and effort to find them.

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I happened across this post today. I have my own theories about why a family with three bio-kids who only wants to adopt a girl under the age of three is finding it slow-going? But I think the ever-dropping numbers of American moms willing to consider adoption stand as a reminder of how much we should (as a society) appreciate those who do find the courage to place when doing so is in the best interests of their child/ren.

http://www.chicagono...are-the-babies/

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