Are you thinking about adopting this year? You don't want to miss this discussion of how to adopt and current trends in private infant adoption, foster care adoption, and international adoption. Our guests are Chris Peszka, MSW, Regional and District Supervisor at Adoptions From The Heart Adoption Agency, and Robin Sizemore, Executive Director of Hopscotch Adoptions.
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Please pardon any errors, this transcript is automated.
Dawn Davenport 0:00
Welcome, everyone to Creating a Family talk about adoption and foster care. I'm Dawn Davenport. I am the host of this show, as well as the director of the nonprofit creating a family.org. Today we're going to be doing our How to Adopt annual How to Adopt to show so this is how to adopt in 2023. We will be talking with Chris Peszka. He is the regional and district supervisor and Adoptions from the Heart adoption agency. He has a master's degree in social services. He is a licensed social worker in the state of New Jersey, and he has been working with children and families and adoption and foster care for over 30 years. He is also a field instructor for the student interns at the MSW program at Rutgers School of Social Work. And we have Robin Sizemore. Robin is the executive director of Hopscotch Adoptions. Welcome Robin. And Chris, we are so glad to have you.
Robin Sizemore 0:58
Thank you for having me. It's
Unknown Speaker 0:59
nice to be with you today.
Dawn Davenport 1:00
Such a popular and fun show to do. So the outline for this show for our listeners is that we're going to be talking about domestic private adoptions, primarily infant adoptions. And we'll be talking with Chris about that, then we'll be talking about adoptions from foster care. And I'm going to carry the baggage on that one. And then we will be shifting to international adoptions. And we'll be talking with Robin about that. And then hang around to the end because the part that I am looking most forward to is talking about what we're seeing in the future shifts that we've seen in the past last couple of years. And some of the changes we're anticipating for 2023 and beyond. So I am looking forward to that discussion. All right, Chris. Like I said, we're going to begin with you and domestic private adoptions. Primarily, we think of those as being infant adoptions. i There are it is possible to adopt a child past infancy, but that's relatively rare, I would assume.
Chris Peszka 2:03
Yes, it is rare. It's more the exception that rule. But it does occur.
Dawn Davenport 2:07
Yeah, other than through foster care, which we'll talk about in a minute. So what is the process for adopting privately in the United States? Again, predominantly, this would be infant adoption where?
Unknown Speaker 2:20
Yeah, so for prospective adoptive parents, I like to think of the processes involving education, evaluation and preparation. So I think it's very important for prospective adoptive parents to really educate themselves and have agencies such as ourselves, educate them, not just about the logistics and the regulations regarding adoption, but really fully understanding everything that adoption involves and taking into account all members of the adoption triad, the evaluation process, it's usually a state regulated requirement that prospective adoptive families in the state in which they reside, have to meet regulations. It's called a home study evaluation. Personally, I feel that their home study is a bit of a misnomer, because it sometimes leads people to believe that we're just studying their home or their residence. And it's really so much more. It's an overall evaluation and assessment of an individual or couple to become adoptive parents. And then I think the last stage of the process is really preparation. So again, some of those logistical things about how this works, everything from how to manage the waiting period until you're selected, what happens at the hospital for an infant adoption, and then the post placement supervisory period, everything that happens after your place with a newborn, up to the point where you can finalize the adoption in court.
Dawn Davenport 3:46
Excellent. Yeah, I agree with you about home the word home study, I have often thought that it's it's misnamed. And I'm so glad that you brought up the fact that education is also a part and should be a part. And if it isn't, there's something wrong, because even when you're adopting an infant adoption is not the same as parenting a child by birth. And we need to be educated on that. Now, of course, you would expect to hear that from me as the Executive Director of the National Adoption, education and support organization, but I love it when I hear it from those in the field as well. And actually, that is a when we tell people how to choose an agency, one of the things we say is look for an agency that wants to invest in educating you because that's an agency that wants you to succeed not just in the first six months, but throughout your your life with this child. So Chris, what are some of the reasons that pregnant women are placing their children for adoption? And has any of that change, say in the last, I don't know X number of years, do you see a difference in why and so what are the primary reasons you see now and has and how has that changed?
Unknown Speaker 4:59
I think there's a multitude of reasons why pregnant persons in couples consider and ultimately choose to place their child from adoption, I like to think of it from the perspective of their needs aren't being met. And that can be the very basic needs of of shelter, we work with women and couples who are homeless, it could be that it's a safety issue, they're experiencing domestic violence in their lives, it could be a lack of support from family members and friends, or their their partner significant other, we have some individuals and couples, they have aspirations to further their education and complete their their career goals. And that's the reason why they're looking to place their child for adoption. So I think when you really look at the the main reason, if you want to do an overarching cause for it, I would say is that they're just not ready to be a parent to this child at this time in their lives. And I think that's the simplest way to look at it. I think prospective adoptive parents have to prepare themselves that the person or couple that chooses them to place their child with them could really run the whole continuum or the whole spectrum. In terms of changes, I certainly think that societal, economic and political issues often have an impact on the reasons why individuals and couples choose to make an adoption plan. So certainly, I think we can't discount that. Sometimes it's a financial reason that the economy is not well and someone's unemployed, that has their an impact on their ability to parent that child. And we certainly provide lots of options counseling to expecting and birth parents, we want them to know that choosing adoption is a permanent decision. It's not a temporary decision. So I think therefore, if it's a short term issue, that could be remediated by getting referrals to services, and putting other things in place, then adoption may not be the best choice for them. But I certainly think we do see those trends at times when, again, economic, social and political issues could impact why people make adoption plans.
Dawn Davenport 7:10
Okay, what percentage and you may not know the answer to this, it's a hard statistic to find, what percentage of the adoptions in the United States are what we would consider open? And then we're going to have to define open because everybody's definition is pretty different. But what are let's talk about open adoption. First of all, I know in your agency, it's a very high percentage, but national ID you know, what percentage is open,
Unknown Speaker 7:38
broadly defined, you know, currently, at least the most recent statistics that I've looked at that we provide in our adoption education course, which is titled open adoption, it's 95%. And that means just any really level of openness. So I think that's a trend that we've seen growing and growing over the years. But you're correct. And that openness and adoption does need to be looked at along a continuum or a spectrum as well. I think at the very least prospective adoptive parents are going to get some information on the birth mother from the hospital records and some very basic information. But certainly we encourage as much openness as as possible, really, for the best interest of the child that they have some sense of their family of origin and their history. I think that's very important.
Dawn Davenport 8:26
Right? And I'm, some people consider me this spectrum, the that this can fall can be as little as sending pictures and yearly letters all the way and then or to creating Facebook groups, private Facebook groups or posts things all the way up to monthly visits are we know families who have the birth mom or baby sets, you know, so it can be across any spectrum? It is you're forming a relationship, and relationships grow and develop. And so it can have an interesting thing. Do you see this as well, that as adoptive parents and birth parents move into the relationship very often, the barriers that they've set up because based on their concerns melt away, and they just become just, it's a very natural relationship without many of the artificial barriers we put up at the beginning. Have you seen that as well? For sure.
Unknown Speaker 9:27
And our agency does have minimum requirements of our adoptive parents, including the pictures and letters and communication, as well as a minimum of two in person visits a year. But I think setting those minimum standards or requirements does help alleviate the fears that many birth parents have that adoptive parents aren't going to follow through with an open adoption relationship. But I think much like any relationship, that relationship grows and evolves over time, and often a closeness develops and grows and some of the was agency involvement stipulations sort of do fit fade away and melt away. And their relationship takes a life of its own without the agencies being involved in it as closely.
Dawn Davenport 10:11
Yeah, exactly. And I should just say that there are many agencies that do not have any requirement at all about what is the degree of openness. However, that brings us up to the point of the majority of domestic infant private adoptions in the United States are what we call expectant parent choice, if you may use a different term. But Chris, explain what that means, from a practical level. For those prospective adoptive parents. I think some
Unknown Speaker 10:43
agency including ours, you know, give prospective adoptive parents some choices over the situation and circumstances of the expecting and birth parents. But once we know that, what we'll do is provide to the expecting or birth parents, the list of adoptive families that are matched for their situation, and families often Create Profile booklets and have videos, profiles, if you will. And the expecting or birth parents have the ability to select the adoptive family for their child from the group of families that match their situation, I think is the simplest way to put it in practical terms.
Dawn Davenport 11:19
It is the decision generally doesn't have to be if they expect it parent or parents don't want the decision that the agency will take over. But it is the majority of times it is the expectant parents who are selecting the forever family for their child. Yeah, that's correct. Right. What are some of the typical special needs? And I'm using air quotes around that word of children who are available for adoption as infants in the United States?
Unknown Speaker 11:52
Well, I think you're right. I mean, that could certainly be broadly defined. Sometimes it is minor medical issues that are treatable through surgery, procedures, and treatment. I think there are other children that may have more lifelong disabilities and issues that are going to need ongoing care and treatment. But it also just varies widely.
Dawn Davenport 12:13
Yeah, as you would expect through children. In any any children being born. One of the special needs or one of the concerns, is prenatal exposure to alcohol and drugs. How common is that in? And let's be honest, oftentimes, we don't know if we can ask questions. So we don't know. But but unless the baby or the birth mom or being or the mom were being tested at birth, we may not know the answer. But how common is that? How, how prepared should adoptive parents be for the fact that the child they're adopting may have been exposed prenatally to alcohol or drugs?
Unknown Speaker 12:51
Yeah, it's a very good question. I would say my experience, roughly two thirds of birth mothers have used some substance. And that could be anything from tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs, whether prescription or non prescription to some degree at some point during the pregnancy. We emphasize education around this issue for adoptive parents, and I would strongly encourage any persons who are considering becoming adoptive parents to really look into the medical issues related to this, I think there's a lot of myths and misconceptions around what substances may have what impact on a child. And as you mentioned earlier, Don, there, there are no guarantees in life, and whether it's adoption, or parents having their own biological child, there certainly could be medical issues and disabilities that come as a part of that. I think sometimes in adoption, there's this belief that things should be different, because it's more of a formal process. And that's not always the case. But I do think that that's what we see. But you know, referring to medical professionals and looking at the research and again, our agency does provide an education course for our adoptive parents on the effects of prenatal drug and alcohol use. And I can tell you, having taken the course several times myself along with the adoptive parents, the first time I took it, I was rather surprised what my preconceptions were around some of these substances and potential effects were and what the reality is in terms of what the statistics show. So there's nothing more important than educating yourself and getting the actual information to prepare you for
Dawn Davenport 14:24
it. And I would add that creating a family has a number of courses, specifically addressing prenatal exposure as well. I want to let you know about 12 Free adoption and fostering courses that are available to you through the generous support of the Jackie being Family Foundation. These courses can be found at Bitly slash J B F support that's B I T dot L y slash J B F support. They are a part of creating a family's online parent trade center, but they're brought to you for no charge. Thank you to the timekeeping Family Foundation. All right, now let's ask a practical question. How long does it take to adopt a baby in the United States privately?
Robin Sizemore 15:15
I think I'd prefer to
Unknown Speaker 15:16
break that down into several segments. Sure, I would say that, you know, the home study evaluation, the assessment of prospective adoptive parents generally takes about four to six months. But I think with agencies that do a lot of education and preparation, it can be anywhere from 12 to 18 months from the time that a prospective applicant applies until they go on in that waiting list. Once on a waiting list, wait times vary. It could be as short as a few months, it could be upwards of four to five years. Part of that depends on, again, how each agency defines its policies and procedures in terms of matching. I certainly think in general, the more open adoptive parents are, to different circumstances and situations, generally, they have more opportunities to be shown to prospective expecting and birth parents. And as a trend, they might be selected in a shorter amount of time. But it's really hard to predict. And I think that prospective adoptive parents really need to prepare themselves for many unknowns in this process. I certainly think the waiting time once you are an approved adoptive parent on until your place is probably one of the most difficult times because you don't know when it's going to happen. And I know that that can be very emotionally difficult. In most states, once you've been placed with a child, you generally are going to go through a post placement process that typically I would say takes four to eight months on average, before the adoption can be finalized.
Dawn Davenport 16:44
Okay, and it does. Because if we go back to the Bayfair, the process, which is mean that that expectant parents are the ones who are choosing, it's very hard for an agency. In fact, it would be impossible for an agency to say because we don't know which family they're going to choose. And it's not necessarily the family that's been waiting the longest.
Unknown Speaker 17:02
Yeah. And in my experience, I often find it has to do with connections, you know, that the expecting your birth parents feel a connection to this particular adoptive family. And that's the overriding reason they, they choose them. So you're right, it's hard to determine how long that will be.
Dawn Davenport 17:17
Or the fact that they're, they're looking for a family that has already adopted and has another child or they're looking for a family where this would be the first stop or you know, there's there are different things that they're looking for, and we are different religions or whatever. So how much does it cost to adopt a baby,
Unknown Speaker 17:36
the cost do vary. But if I can put a range on it, I would say with most domestic infant adoptions, we're probably looking between $25,000.40 $1,000 When you do add up all of the cost from applying getting education, the home study evaluation, process, placement fees, and post placement fees and the like,
Dawn Davenport 17:57
what factors influence the cost, because that's a big range.
Unknown Speaker 18:03
I think sometimes it has to do with the particular requirements or regulations in a certain state. So for example, if it's going to be an interstate adoption, the birth family is from one state and the adoptive families from another. There's a process that the agency has to go through called the interstate compact on the placement of children. There's more work involved for the agency to process all of those documents. So there's a fee that gets passed along to the adoptive family. I think sometimes there's also the some states have the ability to have the licensed adoption agency, take the surrender or termination of parental rights as opposed to hiring an attorney and going through a court process. So there's a fee for that. So sometimes it's just the specifics of the adoption. I certainly think the wait time could also impact that. In most states, a home study evaluation has an expiration date anywhere from one to three years. So if a family is waiting, they may need to renew their home study approval. ongoing education may be a part of that different agencies do charge advertising and marketing fees. And then certainly, you know, generally the largest fee is the placement fee, which does cover the cost of the agency operations. The staff, you know, on average, I would say most adoption agencies with expecting and birth parents that they provide services to and that runs the gamut of one phone call to counseling women and couples for months and months and months. On average 75% of the expecting and birth parents at least did we work with choose a plan other than adoption? So there's often a lot of time and resources that staff spend with expecting and birth parents and we don't charge the fees to the expecting and birth parents. So that has to get factored into.
Dawn Davenport 19:42
That's such a good point. And you can work through an adoption agency or an adoption attorney and another distinction there is something you alluded to Chris and that is whether they provide counseling and ongoing counseling Support for couples or women who have or have placed a child through their agency. And all of that costs money, but it's also potentially very, very helpful, both for the short term and the long term. All right. Anything else you want to tell us about adopting an infant through private adoption in the US, Chris, before we move on to talking about foster care?
Robin Sizemore 20:24
Unknown Speaker 20:26
think the first step for anyone who's considering to becoming an adoptive parent is to really do their research, read a lot and continue to commit to ongoing education. I understand that, you know, some folks that want to become adoptive parents are single parents. Some are couples that have experienced infertility issues. Others are members of the LGBTQ community who choose adoption to start or expand their family rather than other reproductive methods. I think it's really important to not rush into choosing an agency and starting this process without really fully understanding what it is and the more you read, and the more you research, and the more you continue to review that information is really important. I think it's a decision that really shouldn't be taken lightly. And making that commitment to as I said, either start or expand your family through adoption really starts with that process.
Dawn Davenport 21:18
For I would totally agree with you that spending doing the legwork upfront will save you a lifetime of trouble and heartache or it's just It's smart. It's a big decision, it's worth spending a little time. And I will link to a guide that creating a family has which includes questions for how to choose an agency and list of questions, things to consider, which much of it is a direct repeat to what Chris has said today. So I guess I totally agree with
Unknown Speaker 21:54
linear I think, right selecting, selecting an agency really, that's a lot of where the research should take place rather than and this is a very emotional process. So I understand the inclination to, for lack of a better word, want to be a little impulsive to get the process started. But I think doing that research and choosing an agency that is really the best fit for you and is going to meet your needs, I think is really a prudent thing to do.
Dawn Davenport 22:19
And that is going to that advice. We will be applying for all three types of adoption we're going to be talking about today adopting from foster care and international as well just want to throw that out there because I think that's important. If you want to know what you could do to help creating a family, both the nonprofit as well as this podcast, the single best thing you could do is to let your friends and family know about this podcast. That's how people learn. Word of mouth is how people learn about new podcasts. And for us to do our mission as a nonprofit, which is to educate and support adoptive Foster and kin families. We need you to be on our team to let others know about the podcast. So please, please, please tell others if you are a foster are an adoptive or a kin parent, tell your family, send them a link to a specific show that you think will help them help you be a better parent to your child. And just tell your friends who may be thinking about adopting or fostering.
Alright, now let's move to talking about adoptions or adopting from foster care in the United States. I'm going to be discussing that with you guys. The first thing is, I like to say there's two main ways that you can adopt from foster care. One, there is a list of waiting children in every state children whose parental rights have already been terminated kids who are simply waiting for an adoptive placement. And we have those children who are ready and waiting for adoption. Another way that people are able to adopt from foster care is by adopting their foster child. They start the process by going in they apply to be a foster parent. Something that we cannot stress enough is that when you go in as a foster parent, your role your job, your mission is to try to help heal the birth family. You are a partner in that process. You are going to be facilitating visitations you are going to be encouraging birth parents. That's your role. That's what you're going into. And the majority of children who enter foster care will reunify with their birth family. And then another large section will be reunified with extended family members. However, about 25% and that's statistic has stayed the same for like so many years. So I think that's it's a good statistic. About 25% of the children that will not be able to reunify with their birth family. And if they're not able to reunify and there isn't extended family that The agency can find, then generally speaking, the adoptive parents will be asked if they want to be the ones to be the adoptive placement, the permanency placement, permanency through adoption placement for that child. So it is definitely possible. And in fact, the statistic would say about 25%. However, if your main goal is adopting, and you're not willing to be a soft landing place for a child who needs it temporarily, then going in that route is is not for you. And that's totally and completely fine. There are lots of people who, what they want is to be a parent, not a foster parent, and the roles are quite different. And so no problem at all know it upfront, and then look into adopting a waiting child. The reasons that children come are available for adoption from foster care, you know, are the same really the world over a neglect and abuse and substance abuse which ties into neglect are the primary reasons something I think that is really important for everyone to remember, it is through no fault of the child who is in foster care that they are in foster care, they didn't do anything wrong, it was their parents who were unable to provide parenting for that child be able to provide a safe and stable home for the child. So these children have been removed by the state and enter foster care. Once the child has been removed from the state, they enter foster care. The process is supposed to be that they look for extended family members to care for the child while they're in foster care. Different states have different records on how successful they are. And they obviously many times they need to look for a non family member. They are supposed to be working with the agency, the social welfare agency is supposed to be working with the birth family, they usually are presented with a plan, for lack of better word list of things that they need to do they need to get in, get their substance abuse disorder under control through rehab, they need to find housing or they need to get a job or they need to break up with the guy who beat the child or whatever. There's a list of things that they must do, including visitation, sometimes parenting, education, things like that. And that's the process while the child is in foster care. The goal is to as swiftly as possible, help the parents heels that the child can go back home. But we are talking about people that really difficult stages of their life. And so sometimes things don't happen as quickly as we anticipate. And we're often asked so what is the age and race of the child available for adoption? Well, it's somewhat depends on whether or not that you have gone in years fostering and then have been asked to adopt because no one else is able to provide a permit No, no family member is able to provide a permanent or waiting children. There is a report that is it's called the AF gar AFC a our report that is prepared every year by the federal government and it's a wealth of information. So you would just try and think well what F gar stands for actually up adoption and foster care Analysis and Reporting System. Now you'll realize why I do not did not know what it stood for. But that's the so if you're looking for specific data on foster care and adopting from foster care, both foster care as well as adoption from foster care, that just type in AFC ARS report and the latest year and they're running here behind. So it looking at the AF gar the latest AF gar report, the children coming into foster care, the ages are range completely, there is no one age that is more and the the race and ethnicity is also fairly equal but not actually fairly equal. So the race and ethnicity is and I'm just going to hit the high of the higher numbers 46% White, 21% Hispanic 20% Black or African American and then others and unknown to make up the those are children entering foster care. Now so those will be the children who would be placed in your home if you are going in as a foster parent. If however, you are looking for waiting children, the greatest need and that for families for waiting children is for older children, children over the age of six or eight depending on the state and sibling groups. The average age of the child who is adopted is around age seven. And as far as race and ethnicity it's very similar to what I reported for kids who were in foster care. The latest year would say 43% White 23% Hispanic and 21%, Black or African American. So those are the kiddos who are available, as far as special needs something that all children who have been removed from their home for neglect or abuse or their parental substance abuse have experienced trauma. If nothing else, the act of having been removed is traumatic, the act of being of the having been neglected is traumatic, and that impacts how children behave and learn. So I would say that all children for defining special needs that way who are in foster care would have some form of special need. How long does it take? Well, I wish I had a even a good range. And I don't, if you are being asked to adopt a foster child, so you're going in as a foster parent, not with explicit intent to adopt, it really depends on how soon a decision is made on whether the child can be reunified with their family, it has to take that they have to give the birth parents at a period of time to get their act together to work the plan to, uh, to get into rehab. So there's a certain amount of time that has to go by, but sometimes it it becomes clear relatively soon, that the child is not going to be there, the family is not going to be able to heal and that the child will be become available. And then at that point, they should be at that point looking for extended family to adopt the child or take custody of the child. So can't really answer the how long for if you're going in to adopt a child that is already waiting, in theory, at least that should be a faster process, the parental rights have already been terminated. And that is a legal process, it just takes time. So the process for that is that you go in a child has identified they have to the agency has to match the child with you. But all of that sometimes the most time consuming part of it is getting your education. And as with, as Chris mentioned, with domestic infant, there is even a stronger educational component with being becoming a foster parent or adopting. It is usually can range by state, but just usually it's in the 30 hour range. So you've got to sign up for those educational classes. And sometimes that's the hardest part, the hardest, most time consuming part. The other time consuming part is how many home studies is your agency working on and how quickly you can get your home study done? A lot of public agencies, it just takes time because the caseworkers have so many families assigned to them. And so it's just that it takes time for them to get to it. I know I didn't answer that question is because there isn't a good answer, you know, even arrange would be so wide as to be not all that helpful. How much does it cost that I can give you more detailed information on as a general rule, it doesn't cost you anything to adopt from foster care. There may be some incidental costs, but but very few, and the families are not expected as a general rule to pay for for them. In fact, the vast majority of children well over 90% of children who are adopted from foster care receive an adoption subsidy from the state, it can be a monthly subsidy, they also often included on Medicaid so that the child's health care needs. Some states provide reimbursement for in state tuition for colleges or post secondary education. So all of that usually is included. And the first step if you are a prospective adoptive parent, considering adopting from foster care is to sign up for an informational class. And you're one of the big decisions you're going to have to make which again, echoes what Chris had said before, is deciding on an agency. Generally speaking, not every state, but the vast majority of states you have a choice between working with the public child welfare agency is called something different in every state. Or you can work with a private agency that has a contract to licensed foster parents and that state. You should sign up for an information class for both of those because you really do need to compare them. And again, we talk about that at length in the How to choose an adoption agency guide that I am going to link to questions and things that you should think about when deciding. All right now we're moving to international adoptions, Robin Sizemore, you're up. So what is the process to adopt international like.
Robin Sizemore 35:01
So just as Chris shared a great overview of what is typically the process, it mirrors that quite well, the process of training, consulting, preparing a family is significant. The gathering of documentation that's required to be verified and included in your home study, or what we also refer to as a pre Placement Assessment can take a bit of time. Usually, home study could take anywhere from three to five months, depending on how quickly motivated the family is, and maybe perhaps, where a family who has lived in many countries or states for career or education, that is also point that may cause a little bit of a delay, because child abuse registries have to be checked. So yeah, after the home study, or actually, I would say before that interview agencies and find which agency you feel like you're going to have a good fit with, what their program mix is, by way of program. I mean, what countries are they working in, that may be a good fit for you, often families will contact us. And they think that they may be interested in adopting from a specific country, but when they learn about the eligibility criteria is or the eligible children from that country turns out not to be the best fit, and they may choose a different program. So
Dawn Davenport 36:44
yeah, I think that's something that people don't realize is that each country has a requirements of who they will accept.
Robin Sizemore 36:52
That is true. And there's, there's quite a broad mix. Some countries, ancient countries have an emphasis on the help of a parent. And so if there's a percentage body weight, mass body index, or mental health or taking any type of medication that might exclude them from the ability to adopt from that country, some countries require two married parents and have opposite sex. And then there's some countries that are open and work with single parents, LGBTQ parents. Yeah. So it's, it's fascinating. But then you have to also look at the other side of the coin, the type of children that are being made eligible for inner country adoption, may or may not fit with what you believe. And hopefully, you've come to educate yourself with the child that you can best parent.
Dawn Davenport 37:51
And that differs by country. And so you need to understand the age and the degree of special need each country is is which is which children are available in each country. That is right. And that makes that makes very good sense. So, let's talk about some of the typical kids that are available now internationally and special needs.
Robin Sizemore 38:15
So I would say, in general, intercountry adoption now is primarily made of children who have a mild to significant special need. And when I say mild, I would say that a cleft lip cleft palate, a limb difference, if Well, yeah, would be a minor. And then all the way up to children with Down syndrome, spinal bifida, much more complex medical needs would be available, the younger the child is typically, the longer it will take to bring their child home, sometimes that you're wanting to adopt. There's also the group of sibling groups, and those are usually older and may have one of the members of the sibling group may be a little younger. And then there's a category of single but older children that are close to aging out at the age of 16. There is one niche here of some countries such as Pakistan and Morocco. If you are a practicing Muslim, and for Morocco, specifically a Sunni Muslim family, you can adopt an infant, typically developing infant relative health is relative to institutional care course. But this is a category that a lot of people are not aware of. And
Dawn Davenport 39:52
also Yeah, and they do you have to actually be a practicing Sunni Muslim or Muslim.
Robin Sizemore 39:58
Absolutely, because you'll undergo an Islamic investigation and the clerical interview. So, yes, you can't skate by on that.
Dawn Davenport 40:09
So how long does it take to adopt internationally?
Robin Sizemore 40:14
It's it depends on how open the family is to the variety of children that are eligible from that specific country. If you're looking for the healthier the child, the younger the child, it's going to be a much longer process. It could be up to five years even. And during that time period, of course, you're going to have to renew your USCIS approval, your home, study your dossier. Some countries have waiting eligible children that if you were paper ready, when we say paper ready, your dossier and you have USCIS approval, we could move very quickly and be home within nine months. But again, it just depends on what country you choose. And the age and the health of the child would pretty much dictate that, I would say, as early as nine months and as much as five years.
Dawn Davenport 41:09
And again, depending on the factor of the factors you've just mentioned that would influence that. So how much does it cost to adopt internationally.
Robin Sizemore 41:16
So that varies, some countries require one trip to meet and complete the child's adoption. Or it could be up to three trips, such as Ukraine, and travel gets expensive. And some countries require a residency period. But in general of the programs that we offer, you should expect to spend anywhere from about 20 to 35,000. All said and done. And
Dawn Davenport 41:44
what is the first step a prospective adoptive parents should take if they're interested in adopting internationally, I
Robin Sizemore 41:51
would recommend that they contact a couple of agencies that has program mixes that would appeal to them in general. And that agency should take the time to speak with you provide you the information that would help you best to serve which program and which agency fit would be good for you because not all agencies are are the right fit and vice versa. Sure,
Dawn Davenport 42:17
yes, that's absolutely right. And the country mix of not country mix, but the country that is the best fit for you, you need to find an agency that works in that country. True. Okay. This show would not happen. You hear me say that all the time. But it's true without the support of our partners. And these are agencies and organizations and businesses that believe in our mission of providing education care support to along the continuum of found family building options. One such agency is Vista Del Mar. They are a licensed nonprofit adoption agency, with over 65 years of experience helping to create families. They offer home study only services as well as full service, infant adoption, international home studies and post adoption and foster to adopt programs. You can find more information about them at vista del mar.org/adoptions. Another partner that we wanted to let you know about is cryos international sperm and egg bank. They are dedicated to providing a wide selection of high quality, extensively screened frozen donor sperm and eggs from all races, ethnicities and phenotypes. And they prepare the sperm for both home insemination and fertility treatment. crevasse International is the world's largest sperm bank, and the first freestanding independent egg bank in the United States. So thank you cryos, international, sperm and egg bank for your support. Now, I want to talk about some of the shifts and adoption that we've seen in the last, let's say, five years or so. And let's start with, we'll go back, we'll start with you, Chris. Talk about shifts that you have seen or the changes you've seen in domestic infant private adoption.
Unknown Speaker 44:17
I think one of the biggest shifts we've seen is that nationally there has been a decline in birth rates across the US, and therefore there's been a decline in adoption placements. I certainly think COVID had a big impact. How? Yeah, I mean, COVID had a big reduction in the number of adoption placements during the height of COVID. And, and certainly, I think the year or two following COVID I think the reality is that many unintended pregnancies are the result of people socializing in public and with all the restrictions that happened during COVID. I think the decrease in people socializing and public had an impact on unintended pregnancies. It makes it so I I think that was a big part of it. I think from the you know, if you look at adoption, as a business, and certainly, you know, many agencies or private nonprofit, but the reality is, is that there's fees and, and costs for the services that are provided, I think there's been an increased demand and interest in people who want to be adoptive parents. And that may be due to infertility issues that's driving that. But I think a lot of the stigma around single parenting, and more acceptance of different types of how families are defined, may mean that they expecting and birth parents who consider adoption, who's the parent. So I think there's been some some disparity in terms of the interest in becoming adoptive parents and the number of infants that are eligible for adoption is decreasing, while the interest in desire to become a parent through adoption has been increasing.
Dawn Davenport 45:57
And one thing I wanted to add to that which you you, I think alluded to, is that the average age of first birth in the United States has been steadily increasing. And we know that fertility declines with age. So the number of people who are facing they're trying to start their family, but have waited, and going to the number of people who have are going to face infertility or fertility challenges is going to increase. So I think that just you alluded to that, but I find that an interesting change in one that we've seen in certainly the last five or 10 years. Yeah, I agree. All right. So some now I will handle the question. And when it comes from foster care, some changes, one of the big changes has been the emphasis on finding kinship families. For children, that has been a well, we could argue that it's goes back even before the federal legislation that passed in 2018. But that federal legislation codified it, under the regulations under that, right, that act have codified it. And I think that has changed the approach. And it it certainly is supposed to be changing the approach from child welfare agencies. And we haven't necessarily seen this trickle down into homes for waiting children or the percentage of children who are being adopted by non family members out of foster care. But arguably, that we will start seeing that change. That's certainly something that I think that we are expecting. So that's probably the biggest shift or trend that I could mention in foster care. International. Now, Robin, you got a lot to talk about in this one. Because there have been a lot of changes and shifts in international adoption, although maybe not so much in the last five years when another happened. So anyway, what are some of the shifts and changes you've seen in the last five years?
Robin Sizemore 47:59
Well, I think the most current event that has affected in our country adoption would be the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And so that has had a big impact on intercountry adoption.
Dawn Davenport 48:13
Well, kids, I mean, obviously, from Ukraine, but has it impacted families outside of those adopting from Ukraine?
Robin Sizemore 48:19
Well, considering that Ukraine really was a very big sending country. So that's going to make a big difference. And those families that were in process, but have not completed their adoption, they had options to wait and move into a new program. But with the hosting component that Ukraine offers that was very attractive to many people, it really was, and would say China is in the same situation that is the largest sending country. And because of our frosty relations, and COVID. That has not resumed yet, and a lot of families are leaving that to have waiting to pursue a second concurrent pathway to adopt or leaving China, Ukraine altogether. And not pursuing a future adoption in inter country adoptions. So it's changed a lot. I would say that we have more options than ever, but less families coming to immigrant tree adoption, because of probably the fertility of the programs. The children are older. Unless of course, it's from countries such as Morocco or Pakistan, we are seeing more kinship adoptions, which is fantastic, by way of our ability to really serve a family that's in crisis, that a child in the foreign country is in need of permanency with extended family here in the US. I would also say that we've had an increase of expense recently that unfortunately is impacting adoptive families through Through the monitoring and oversight of our accrediting entities, which are designated by our Department of State, have increased the fee per child being monitored in the oversight through an agency from 500 to $850, which we adamantly been protesting. And then finally, I would say, you know, with the abundance of more and orphans, there's such a large waiting pool of children with Down syndrome. And I know, domestically, it is a waitlist to be able to adopt such a child here in the US with determinacy pregnancy determinacy rate. However, through inter country adoption, you can put your completed paperwork in to a foreign country and be matched very quickly. So that's an area that we really appreciate, or the foreign governments working with us so well,
Dawn Davenport 51:03
that I wanted to throw it open to both of you about any anticipated changes for 2023. And, Robin, I want to start with you. What are you hearing, as far as he's mentioned, two countries, Ukraine and China, as far as both of which adoptions are for different reasons, are not being open. And clearly, in the case of Ukraine, nobody is pushing for a country at war to prioritize inter country adoption. We hope they're prioritizing the safety of those children. But But what are you hearing as far as the future for those two countries, or at least the near future, the 2023? Future?
Robin Sizemore 51:45
Well, I think we're all looking for that crystal ball. Yeah, that's Ukraine had stated that they had anticipated of resuming adoptions in February 23. We're not sure how that can be honored with the ongoing Russian war. But we really appreciate that they are continued to be motivated to serve these children. That's a great thing. China, I think it's a it's a crystal ball. It's tragic. But overall, I do think the numbers will be down for the children entering the US through inter country adoption, which is very sad, we need more families than ever to parent, these children in need of our family.
Dawn Davenport 52:36
And, Chris, I'll let you have the last word, any anticipated changes, you kind of included some of that increasing number of prospective adoptive parents and decrease number of children who will be available for adoption, but any other anticipated changes? You know,
Unknown Speaker 52:52
I think the ever changing political landscape, especially in terms of Supreme Court rulings could have an impact on domestic infant adoption. And certainly, you know, Roe v. Wade, and the ability to and restrictions on access to reproductive health could make more infants available for adoption, it's hard to say how that's going to play out on a state by state basis. certainly could, you know, future rulings on same sex marriage could have an impact on the ability for same sex parents to become adoptive parents. On a positive note, I would like to think there's going to be more emphasis placed on ethics and adoption, that the best interest of the child whether it's domestic international or foster care, that the best interest of the child is really what's held as paramount. I often like to think that adoption is about finding families, for children and not finding children for families. And I think that's an important distinction. But realizing, as I said earlier, that there are fees associated with adoption services, I'm sometimes concerned that there are agencies out there that are looking to charge fees of adoptive parents who want to become parents, and don't always consider the best interest of the child or the expecting or birth parents, for that matter. So, you know, I would like to think that that agencies are focused on what's in the best interest of the child, not trying to find, you know, adoptive parents who want to adopt and are just charging fees and making money there just because they're trying to meet a need. And I think that's an important consideration that the the needs of the child really needs to be first and foremost.
Dawn Davenport 54:31
Absolutely. And that is the perfect ending. Thank you. Thank you very much, both of you, Chris pesca. And Robin Sizemore for being with us today to talk about how to adopt in 2023. And we'll see at the end of this year, how our predictions, how they have gone. Thank you both so much. Thank you. Pleasure being
Unknown Speaker 54:52
Transcribed by https://otter.ai