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ISSUE 116 VOL 5 PUBLISHED 10/11/2002

Children find security in American homes

By Anonymous
Contributing Writer

Friday, October 11, 2002

Blood is not always thicker than water, especially when it comes to a parents love for a child. The desire to have children is one that affects most people during their lifetime. The intricate bond between a parent and child is said to be unlike any other. Parents make sacrifices in their own lives and careers simply to have a family. In this country, having children is a necessary part of the American dream. Why do people decide to have children? Perhaps couples want to express the sanctity and love of their union in the form of a child, or maybe they desire to leave a legacy of themselves on earth after they are gone. Often, people want to have a unique relationship with a human being that they have created through birth. Some have been excited to have children from early on. Unfortunately, the plan to have children biologically does not always work as planned. Or, for some, a child may come a little too soon. In either case, there is a possible solution: adoption. Couples adopt for many reasons, the most popular being infertility issues. Infertility accounts for nearly 50 percent of foster care adoptions and 80 percent of private adoptions. Approximately 11-24 percent of couples with infertility problems choose to adopt. Children are also adopted by a stepparent or foster care parent when their biological parents can no longer care for them or their home has been declared unsafe. Some couples choose to adopt rather than give birth to their own children for personal reasons or to provide a child with a loving home. No matter what the reason, adoption in the United States is much more far-reaching than one might imagine. Estimates indicate that nearly six out of ten Americans are directly affected by adoption. This means that a person is likely to have a friend or relative that has adopted a child, have a friend or relative who is adopted, or be involved in the adoption process himself or herself. There have been no attempts to calculate precise national totals of adoptions in the last decade, but agencies estimate the number to be from 120,000 to 130,000 adoptions per year, both domestic and international adoptions. In 1992, the last year that national adoption statistics were calculated, 127,441 children were adopted in the United States. The highest recorded national adoption totals occurred in 1970 when 175,000 children were adopted. Adoption levels reflect both changes in societal norms and improvements in technology and accessibility of contraceptives. Typically when one thinks about adoption, he or she imagines a baby being adopted into a family of unrelated and unfamiliar people. This situation, however, represents only one side of adoption. In the United States, several types of adoption exist including international adoption, foster care and stepparent adoption, private adoption, and independent adoption. International adoption refers to the adoption of children born in foreign countries by American adults. Children have been adopted from nearly every region in the world, but most come from Eastern Europe, South America and Asia. Since its beginning in the 1950s, international adoption numbers have been increasing each year. In 1997, 13,620 international adopted children came to the United States. Most children adopted internationally are less than five years old when they arrive in the United States. Sometimes the children are adopted into a family of another race, however, this number is still a very small percentage of total adoptions. Foster care adoption constitutes the largest number of adoptions in the United States. Foster care parents may choose to adopt a foster child if he or she can no longer live with their biological parents. The biological parent may have passed away, been convicted of a crime, or created an unsafe atmosphere for his or her child. Stepparent adoption can occur either for custody issues, financial concerns, or other reasons. Private adoption typically occurs through a non-profit or for-profit agency. The agency will match a parent and child together and take care of legal issues. In turn, the parents pay a fee, which can range from $4,000 to $30,000. Private agency adoption is one of the more expensive types of adoption. The number of babies up for private adoption has decreased in the last few decades, mostly due to the decrease in children being born and the widespread availability of contraceptives such as the birth control pill. When a lawyer or other licensed facilitator regulates an adoption, it is considered an independent adoption. In 1992, 37.5 percent of adoptions were independently sanctioned. The costs of independent adoption are similar to private adoption. For some couples, adoption may not be the answer. The costs, waiting for a child, and the inability to pass biological traits to a family member may seem like disadvantages to some parents. However, for those who have chosen to adopt, they are likely to have no regrets. Many adopted children also share this positive sentiment regarding adoption. “Completing the circle of adoption by becoming someone that helped me grow up in my loving family is only a small token of gratitude I can hope to give to other waiting children,” said Jade Soik ‘03. Adoption allows women and men who cannot have children to be mothers and fathers. It gives some women the opportunity to postpone their family without facing abortion. Children who otherwise could have been abandoned or suffered in poverty can be welcomed into a warm home and a loving family. Adoption, through its ability to connect a child with loving parents, can make lifelong dreams and hopes become reality. Information gathered from

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