Of this group. 50% were male, 50% were female, 38% were White, 35% were Black, and 16% were Hispanic. Adoption statistics are difficult to find because reporting is not as complete as it should be. The government spent $2.6 billion dollars to conduct the 1990 Census, but still it under-represented minorities and categorized children as "natural or by adoption" without differentiating, while special laws were implemented to "protect" and separate adoption affected families. In 1995, a "continuous" census (instead of every ten years) was proposed but has not been implemented. Even the government cannot rely on its most often cited broad official "guesstimate" of "5 to 10 million adoptees in the U.S." Private agency or independent adoptions account for more than 80% of adoptions in a state like California, but these are difficult to track, particularly when they cross state and country borders. In addition, no one knows how many U.S. children leave the country to be adopted abroad (Carangelo, 2007).
Because of the problems with record-keeping, even adoptees and their parents cannot "prove" their biological relatedness nor adoptive status, exacerbated by the withholding of documentation, including relinquishment agreements, true birth records, adoption decrees. The hospital record of birth is treated as "confidential" and withheld from the parties named in them. Medical birth records are often legally destroyed long before an adult adoptee knows where to look for them. Concerns over this provided the impetus for what is now an international Open Records Movement and International Soundex Reunion Registry (ISRR). ISRR maintains a secrecy policy not to reveal a total count on the number of its registrants and claims not to know how many are adopted. The Open Records Movement has also produced a cottage industry of searchers who quietly circumvent state laws to find their own families, to access their own records and to help others do the same. Under the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (PL-96-272), a provision called for statewide tracking systems for children in foster care who received care within the previous twelve months, but the Reagan Administration chose to implement a "voluntary" system that has been inconsistent from state to state. In 1986, Congress passed a law mandating a National Data Collection System for foster care and adoption and included a five-year timetable of steps in the process to insure Federal Regulations in place by the end of 1988 and full implementation by October of 1991, though the implementation date was not met. In 1997, Congress passed the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System (AFCARS), requiring states to collect case-specific data on all children in foster care for whom the State child welfare agency has responsibility for placement, care, or supervision. This would include placements by private agencies under contract with the public child welfare agency. As Carangelo (2007) writes,
Until recently, no state legislated mandatory collection of even non-identifying family background and medical information pre-adoption. Adoption disclosure statutes, agency policies and procedures, which differ from state to state, and even from county to county, may permit summarized identifying information to the parties it concerns, usually for a fee and, in highly populated areas, after a long wait. Agency conditions for identifying disclosure include unsolicited mutual consents or confidentiality waivers of parties who may be deceased or out of state and not know of law changes, "confidential intermediaries" (who may prevent contact indefinitely), psychological counseling, court and agency discretion, non-refundable registry fees, intermediary and search fees -- often pocketed without provision of services.
Clearly, statistics on adoption in the country remain unreliable.
The nature of the adopters has been analyzed, based on the data that has been compiled. A survey in 1988 showed that some 2,000,000 women between the ages of 14 and 44 who had ever sought to adopt a child, and of these 1.3-million did not adopt, 620,000 had adopted...
Also, approximately 10,000 children were adopted from abroad, bringing the total number of unrelated adoptions to 61,000 (Bachrach, London, & Maza, 1991). The number of children adopted has ranged from a low of 50,000 in 1944 to a high of 175,000 in 1970 (Maza, 1994). The number of adoptions by unrelated petitioners declined from a high of 89,200 in 1970 to 47,700 in 1975, though the number of adoptions by related petitioners remained constant between 81,000 and 89,000 during this period (Maza, 1984).
There are several different types of adoption that can be noted. Public adoptions are those in which children in the public child welfare system are placed in permanent homes by public, government-operated agencies, or by private agencies contracted by a public agency to place waiting children. In 1992, for instance, 15.5% of adoptions (19,753) were public agency adoptions (Flango and Flango, 1994). From 1951 to 1975, the percentage of adoptive placements by public agencies more than doubled from 18% in 1951 to 38% in 1975 (Maza, 1984), a number that has since fallen to approximately 15% to 20% of all adoptions (Flango and Flango, 1994). Private adoptions are those in which children are placed in non-relative homes through the services of a non-profit or for-profit agency which may be licensed by the State in which it operates. An independent or non-agency adoption is one in which children are placed in non-relative homes directly by the birthparents or through the services of one of the following: a licensed or unlicensed facilitator, certified medical doctor, member of the clergy, or attorney. In 1992, there were 47,627 adoptions (37.5%) of this type (Flango and Flango, 1994). The highest percentage of such adoptions was 45% in 1970 (Maza, 1984).
Kinship adoptions are those in which children are placed in relatives' homes, with or without the services of a public agency. Stepparent adoptions are those in which children are adopted by the spouse of one birth parent. In 1992, the plurality of all adoptions (53,525, or 42%) were either kinship or stepparent adoptions (Flango and Flango, 1994). Between 1944 and 1975, the proportion of adoptions by related individuals steadily increased until they constituted over 60% of all adoptions, and since almost all adoptions by related petitioners are handled independently, it is likely that by the 1970's a substantial proportion of independent adoptions were by related petitioners (Maza, 1984).
Transracial adoptions are those in which children are placed with an adoptive family of another race. Such placements may be made by either a public or private agency, or they can be independent. According to the most recent estimates, including intercountry adoptions, 8% of adoptions are transracial (Stolley, 1993). Intercountry adoptions involve children who are citizens of a foreign nation and who are adopted by U.S. families and brought to the United States. This area of adoption has shown a dramatic increase in the past few decades. In 1992, there were 6,536(5%) such adoptees brought to the United States, and in 1997, that number increased to 13,620 (United States Department of State).
The states with the highest number of adoptions are also states with larger populations. In 1992, California had 14,722 adoptions, with New York second with 9,570, Texas third with 8,235, Florida fourth with 6,839, and Illinois fifth with 6,599 adoptions (Flango and Flango, 1994). Estimates are that one million children in the United States live with adoptive parents and that between 2% to 4% of American families include an adopted child (Stolley, 1993).
The need for more adopters is evident from the statistics on foster care in the United States. More than half a million children are in foster care in the United States today, and kost remain in care for more than three years and live in at least three foster homes. Some stay longer and may be placed in seven or more foster homes (Hochman, Hochman, & Miller, 2007, p. 2). Many of these children cannot find adoptive parents and so remain in the system until they are grown.
At the same time, there is often a lack of children thought suitable for adoption, meaning infants and young children. This has caused some pressure for changes to allow a different sort of adoption, one currently prohibited, under which birth parents might benefit financially from placing a child with a family that really wants a…
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