Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care

Adoption Options in 2022

February 09, 2022 Creating a Family Season 16 Episode 6
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
Adoption Options in 2022
Show Notes Transcript

Are you thinking about adopting? Today we will talk about Adoption Options in 2022. This is the first of a two-part series on What is Happening in Adoptions. We will talk with Jackie Zerbe, Domestic Adoption Supervisor with Vista Del Mar Adoption Agency, Debora Phillips, founding CEO of Children’s Connections, Inc., and Viviane Martini, Family Coordinator with Hopscotch Adoptions, an international adoption agency.

In this episode, we cover:

  • What is happening with domestic infant adoption in the US?
  • What is happening with adoptions from foster care?
  • What is happening with international adoptions?
  • How has the pandemic impacted adopting in the US?
  • What are some of the shifts in adoption in the last 5 or so years?
  • What are some of the changes you anticipate for 2022 and beyond?

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Welcome, everyone to Creating a Family. Talk about adoptionand foster care. I'm Dawn Davenport. I am the host of this show as well as the director of the nonprofit Creating a Family dot org. Today is the first of a two part series on adoptions in 2022 and beyond today that our particular topic is adoption options in 2022. Be sure to tune in next week when we're gonna be talking about shifting realities and adoption with April Dinwoodie, she is an adult transracial adoptee as well as a thought leader in this field, so don't miss it. Today, as I said, we're going to be talking focusing on adoption options in 2022. And I am so looking forward to this show. This is something I think about a lot. So it's this to geek out with others who think about this. It's going to be fun for me. We're going to be talking today with Jackie Zerbe. She is the domestic adoption supervisor with Vista Del Mar. We'll also be talking with Deborah Phillips. She is the founding CEO of Children's Connections, Inc. And that's a family building agency. She created way back in 1987. She oversees the infant adoption program, as well as the interstate waiting child adoption, their embryo donation adoption program, as well as home based pregnancy and early childhood programs. And last, but certainly not least, we'll talk with Vivian Martini, she is the family coordinator with Hopscotch Adoptions, which is an international adoption agency. So welcome Jackie, Deborah, and Vivian to Creating a Family. Like I said, I am really looking forward to this. Thanks, Don. Thank you. All right, the way this show is going to be kind of arranged here. We're going to start with domestic infant, then adoptions, and then we're going to talk about adoptions from foster care. And then we're going to talk about international adoptions. And then we're going to look back and talk about some of the shifts that you guys have seen in the last five or so years. And then we're going to end by looking to the future and saying, Where do we think, what do we anticipate not only for 2022, but But most important, perhaps beyond? So we're going to start with domestic infant adoption. So I'm going to primarily be talking with both Jackie xRB and DEBORAH PHILLIPS. All right, starting with you, Jackie. So what is happening with domestic infant adoptions? Talk about a broad question. I think that there is a perception is that that domestic infant adoptions are becoming fewer and fewer. Is that true? Well,

it certainly was slow for us this last year, I would definitely say that it's true that there are more adoptive parents out there far more adoptive parents than there are women who are making adoption plans. So that's definitely true. But with that being said, we're still seeing placements. We're still seeing families have children placed with them. It's just there are there have been a lot more slow periods the last year or two I would say then, than normal. And maybe that's pandemic related, which I'm sure we'll talk about.

Going back to pandemic. That's it maybe what I'm curious about, Is it is it geographic, you're located in California? Deborah, are you saying you're located in Texas, but both of you place children throughout the US? So Deborah, are you seeing the same thing has has the last couple of years been a significant reduction in the number of women making adoption plans?

Definitely. I would totally agree with Jackie that that. And I do think it's primarily pandemic related that there are less, far less moms making adoption plans for their babies than there are families waiting for them. And possibly there's a little bit of an increase that we're seeing in families wanting to adopt. And maybe that's pandemic related to if you've been staying home and watching everybody else deal with their children and get to do zooms with your family and their kids are there and it just reminds you, you don't have children yet. So I think that in some ways the pandemics turned a lot of us more into our families and what's most important to us. And so that may have increased some demand. But on the part of adoptive parents while moms are not placing as much for adoption 2020 for us was only just a little bit slower, but 2021 was significantly slower for us in terms of number of moms, but like Jackie, we're still having placement. We're still having matches where pregnant moms are selecting families and making adoption plans with them. So it's certainly not that infant adoption is is dead or gone. On, but it is definitely slow right now. I think that we'll see a change in the future. It'll be interesting to see exactly how it goes. I wish we had a crystal ball there for what will be happening in the next couple of years.

I think we throughout this, we're going to say we wish we had crystal ball. Yes. You know, just to throw out there. I know that in support of the more adoptive families. I know that infertility clinics have seen and a great boom in their business. So that would that would support what you're saying. Jackie, do you think it is that there are fewer unplanned pregnancies that might end up with an adoption plan being made? Or do you think that women are more likely right now to be not making deciding to parent versus making an adoption plan? Deborah, I would like to you to address that as well. But let's start with Jackie, and then Debbie chime in.

It could be a combination of either. I was recently talking with a colleague. And they pointed out that because we're in a pandemic, our country is receiving a lot more support from the government than we're normally receiving, especially families. So it could be that unplanned pregnancies are still happening. But before people are deciding on adoption, they're having this other option of parenting and having feeling like they're going to be supported in their choice to parent. So that was an interesting thing that someone just pointed out to me recently, which could explain why we're seeing this this large shift during the pandemic, because I think when the pandemic started in 2020, it was more normal, like Deborah was saying in this last year, there was a really big shift. So probably a combination.

And I've had those same discussions, Jackie, with my colleagues as well. And I do think a lot of moms who previously would have had an unplanned pregnancy, and had very limited options have had far more financial options than they've had in the past. On the other hand, that worries me, because in 2022, a lot of those financial programs to support families are going away are going to be more limited than they were in the past. Things like eviction, you know, no eviction periods of time have gone away and things like that. So it does concern me that later in this year, we may actually see moms that are in far greater need than they might have been, even in 2019, or 2020. I don't know, though. So it will just be one of those things, we need to watch

that curiosity. But I'd like for both of you to answer, Deborah, what percentage of the moms who come to you is financial or poverty, the primary reason why they are making an adoption plan.

In a typical year, I think I don't know that I can put an exact percentage to it. But I think that's a significant factor. Definitely. And now, with the reduction in adoption, the other thing we see is that the moms who were placing tend to be moms who are much more needy, they have either drug use or active drug use, or they have mental health problems. And those issues are so severe, they feel like that they can't parent, where in the past, yes, we would have had those moms, but there would have been other moms that were making this decision for financial reasons. So the percentage of moms we have that are active drug users or that have severe mental issues that impact their daily living, not to the point where they can't make decisions about placing children, but just their daily life is impacted. There's been a great shift in that for us, because the percentage before would have been much smaller percentage of active drug users than now that's a huge percentage. So those are the moms that would have not made a financial had finances as a reason. Yeah. And they're still here. But the ones that finances and being in poverty is their driving force that they already have children that can't support that they can't provide a place to live things like that, that those moms are the ones that we're not seeing right now. It'll be interesting to see how that is in California. Yeah,

I hear you saying something similar.

Yeah, so my agency doesn't do a lot of direct matching for families and expectant parents, but occasionally we'll have someone local reach out to us or there will be an agency or attorney who will connect with Thus with an expectant mom in the area because they need a social worker to work with her. So from the people locally I've worked with, I would say, it's 5050. I mean, Los Angeles is a very expensive place to live. So I would say, most of it is a poverty concern, not being able to afford rent or raise a child, because of financial concerns, I would say that's really common here. Yeah,

it's interesting, because I don't think anybody wants adoptions where it's because of financial reasons, you know, we want people to be able to afford to raise their children. But on the other hand, you know, it's the if if the payments that are the financial payments, that are the financial support that the government is giving, or the eviction protections are not going to be there, then it's a hopefully other programs will, these moms will be able to these families will be able to avail themselves to other programs as time goes on. Which actually is a good segue into that moving into adoptions from foster care. Speaking of services being available, you know, they're in many ways, this is an unknown, it feels like, because we've had some federal legislation which was actually paired the family first service Prevention Act, or Family First Act is what we call it, the was actually passed in 2018. But it feels to me like from what I am saying it is, you know, after was passed, we had to get implementing legislation, and then it had to be torque trickle down to the states, which are actually going to be implementing it in the states had to adopt regulations, and then it has to get down to the county or the parish level. So there are, you know, it's we're seeing it now, more, really, in 2021, certainly, even though the the law passed in 2018. And the this is a gross oversimplification of the family first stack, but it is to try to support families so that one fewer children, enter foster care to begin with that, that we support families at to try to keep them intact. And then then, and then after foster care, there is an emphasis and there has been for quite some time, even before this act on reunifying families. That is, of course, the intent of the foster care system is to heal families. But there's even more emphasis on that. And in addition, that if the family can't be healed, to look for extended family, kinship care, to step in, to provide permanency for these children, so potentially, this will have a significant impact on the numbers of adoption from foster care. And I always this is my kind of my standard spiels my overview of my adoption or adopting from foster care 101. So let me let me give that now just to lay the groundwork, and then I'm going to open up the discussion with Deborah about what she's seeing. But my adoption from foster care. 101 begins with this. And that is there are two groups of children basically, in foster care. There's a group of children whose parental rights have already been terminated, these children are legally free for adoption. Now, the number changes a little bit year by year, but say over 100,000. Now, not all 100,000 of these children are actively looking for family, some have already been matched, but still there are there is this group of children, they tend to be over the age of eight. And if there are any younger children, they tend to be part of a sibling group. And not only are they over the generally over the age of eight, there are more sibling groups in there because we've tried to keep siblings together. So it's harder to find the right family for them. So there is that group of kids terrific kids a wonderful way to create your family. There is a another group of kids and these kids are in foster care, their parental rights have not been terminated. The goal for these children generally when a child comes in almost always the goal is family reunification of those children. There's over 400,000 children who are in foster care in the United States of those kids. About 50% of the time, they are able to reunify with their family. There's after the child comes in the family will whatever the reason in the reasons are usually neglect are substance abuse as to the reasons children come into care. And so the family is given a plan they have to get a job they have to get a house they need to get into rehab, whatever they have a plan that they need to work. If the family works his plan. Then they thought and the goal of the foster parent is to work with the family try to different states call it different things co parents shared parenting to try to work to build a connection and maintain the connection between the child and the family, the family heals and about 50% of the time that happens in the child goes back to their family, about 25% of the time, the child after a child enters foster care, they are adopted by a non relative. And that non relative is usually their foster parents. Not always, but usually the foster parents will be given the choice of whether they want to adopt the child because we don't want to, we want to have fewer placement disruptions. Each placement disruption is a trauma in a child's life and less trauma is better. So I should have also said of that 50%, that reunify that would also include going to kinship. So it's probably a slightly over 50 would go into a be reunified with their family or with other kin. So about 25% of the time. And if you are a foster parent, you will be given the option to adopt the child the children in foster care in general tend to be obviously they're going to be younger. Since we've said that the others are over eight, they tend to be younger children. So for people who are saying I want to adopt a young child or a baby, the reality is this, the only way to adopt a young child or baby is to start as a foster parent. However, starting as a foster parent means that you assume the responsibility and the expectation that your role is a temporary, safe loving place for this child to be with the expectation that you are going to support the birth family and work to help reunify this child. And that's a tough place for some people to be particularly those who are very, very anxious to to create their own family because this is not creating you are becoming a parent, but it is a foster parent. But if you can get your mind into that place, that emotional place, it says, While I am waiting to become a parent, I would like to be a soft landing place for a child knowing full well that the child I am loving, may well not end up being my child forever, probably won't be. And if you can accept that, then then becoming a foster parent and knowing that about 25, you might, if about 25% of the time, you would be able to adopt the child that is placed with you. So Deborah, now I'm going to get off my soapbox and my and turn to you Does that sound about right to you?

It definitely does. And that's a really hard place for foster parents to get to to be where I'm a temporary landing spot. I love how you describe that for a child. But their goal is to help reunify that family that is a that's a really tough spot, particularly for foster parents who've had their own traumas through infertility issues. And so it's it's a real challenge getting to that spot. Particularly when you're, you know, in your mind, you think, oh my gosh, I could be such a good parent. And I've done everything I could be to be a parent, and I've, you know, done everything the doctor said, or I've done everything I can for us to have a family, we still don't have one. And then I see the families that that were working toward reunification with and I think, Oh, my goodness, you know, I would surely be a better place for this child. So it's very, it's a very, very challenging place to be. For those people who can get there. It is a great way to support a good number of children as you get to the point where you can build your family by adopting a child through foster care. But reality is that's a long process. And it is definitely a bumpy road. So

if that's the challenge for organizations like creating a family, because that is our challenge, we it is our mission to help parents realize this and help prepare them and then to support them. Because it's a it's a wonderful way to parent and it's a wonderful way. And I'll be honest, most people who go into this with the idea that they want to adopt if they can get themselves in that emotional headspace are able to adopt, they have it's not always the first trial fact most often you won't be the first child in your home. But you will be able to if you stay at it, you will be able to adopt it. There's no guarantees, but most often that's what we've seen, and keeping in mind that plenty of people go into fostering with no desire to adopt. They are wanting to only be foster but there's another group of people who you as you identified who are wanting to create their own family. I am so excited to tell you about a site where you can get more expert based content that expands on today's podcast topic. jockeying family foundation has supported our ability to offer you 12 free online courses at our creating a online Parent Training Center, you can get there by this shortened link, and it's Bitly slash JBf support, that's bi T dot L, Y, slash, J. B, F support, there is a great variety of topics to choose from. And so example would be, how does adoption affecting bio siblings and a family a really good course. And one, if you have bio kids you should be thinking about. So check it out at Bitly slash JBf. Support. So let's talk a little bit there about with Have you seen much with the How has the pandemic impacted adoptions from foster care? Well, we

we definitely in 2020, when things are really shut down, we initially the pandemic started, and we didn't even remember those days when we didn't know COVID 19 was even being spread. So it definitely slowed down new foster parents coming into the system, because they it was impossible to get home inspections, and people were scared to have anybody come into their home anyway. And so the the recruitment of families, new families to become foster families, and for those families get approved definitely slowed down to a crawl. I think in our state, particularly, especially the last half or three quarters of 2021, some of those restrictions have kind of gone away, and people are able to more go about their business, maybe still taking some precautions, but able to get inspections able to feeling more comfortable with somebody coming to your home. And so hopefully we're moving out of that, although I think there's still people that have health concerns that, you know, are still not going to be comfortable becoming foster parents until we are a little less pandemic minded or, you know, right in the midst of some of this nails. So, so it's hard to know how much it's affected adoptions? Has it been that? Or has it been that we've done a better job of reunifying? Or is it that they're more relatives that are willing to take children, the numbers of adoptions from foster care are definitely decreasing, at least in my state. And I can't speak for the whole country. But just since 2019, we've probably seen a good number, you know, good lowering of the number of actual vitalization, and children actually adopted out of foster care. So like in 2019, it was slightly over 6100 adoptions that were done in Texas, specifically at a foster care. And in this past year, the numbers are erotic 4500. So that's a pretty good drop in the number of adoptions. Now, the vast number of adoptions, the majority of adoptions in Texas are definitely relative. So again, that impacts that idea of I'm coming to be a foster parent. So I can adopt because you need to know that the first goal is reunification. But the second goal really is to look diligently for relatives. And that is, is working better and some relatives do complete the full adoption process. But we do see quite a few relatives that my agency works with that never they get a placement through foster care. And the child exits foster care and is no longer considered a quote case for foster care, but they never actually do an adoption

in some type of custody or permanent guardianship or something along

something like that. Or, or maybe that maybe they don't even go to court. Maybe it's just a very informal relationship. They had a written placement document from CPS that says CPS was placing the child there. And then that's all the family ever does, you know, so which does make it difficult for a child to get a valid, Bursar toolkit that actually represents who they're living with. And, you know, for lots of reasons, you know, permanency needs to be a little more permanent than such an informal arrangement, but with the numbers decreasing like that, is that the pandemic or is that we're doing a better job of, of other things, or does it have to do with, you know, just the family first impact here is definitely being seen now and 2020, the end of 2021, but definitely 2022. There's lots of new programs, lots of new resources, and just the desire program design and planning to be able to implement something else that will actually be permanent in a year or two with this funding. That takes time. And it takes professionals energy to do that kind of a way from the normal day to day placing children.

So an attitude shift. Yes,

it's kind of hard to pinpoint what why are we having less adoptions? Because there's so many effects?

Yeah, I want to I wanted to shift it, because it's an interesting thing. We, at least in 20/21, of all, we don't have the national we have great national statistics, the the AF gar statistics, which is an acronym that I don't remember what it stands for right now, but are great if we have so little statistical information for like domestic infant adoption, but we do for adoptions from foster care. But it's it's, as they say, in the COVID talk, you know, it's a lagging indicator, the 2020 data just came out. And so we so we don't actually know the answer. But But I am hearing the same thing you're hearing in all states that adoptions per se, the 2020 numbers, the percent of children is still was about that were adopted by non relatives has, I think it's 25%. And that's what it has been for many years. So but that's a that's 2020. And we said, we don't actually know what's happening now. But now I want to talk about the impact of family first, because as I said that the impact of family first was to, you know, go upstream and stop children from coming into foster care. And then And then what's in try to get them back into their families, although that has always been the goal of foster care. But if that's not possible to find relatives, again, that is a gross oversimplification of a very complex act. But for the sake of this podcast, we're going to go with that. So what are you seeing as far as programs that are coming to prevent children from entering foster care, so to support families upstream so that they don't end up neglecting and having their children removed?

Well, I think that one thing that's been really interesting to me, because I've kind of been around the block a few times in Texas haven't created this agency so long ago. And recently, it's been very interesting, because I think it's the first time I've seen date, folks that run the foster care and adoption agency here that are actually saying to professionals, what is it that you think would work we have this funding, we're spending this year planning what we're going to do with this money, and how should we spend it and having more open ears to want to listen to adoption professionals, and to allow kind of some grass roots kind of, here's what we've been saying we need all along, let's figure out how we can make that into create a system for that and have more of that and less of another. So everything from trying to come up with programming to support moms that are pregnant, that are also youth in foster care, which there have been no resources really, for ever. And so things like that, as well as trying to do two very unique things for recruiting relatives and recruiting families to taking children on. So really all kinds of things. I mean, we actually heard a state administrator this whole say, you know, if you have a good idea, or you have a way you think we can spend this money, I'm open to hearing it, please contact me. And I don't think I've heard that, ever. So it's very encouraging, that they're listening to professionals and, and to people who've been in the field for a while to say what, what's going on. But we're also we wind up creating multiple layers in the middle, you know, as well, you know, so sometimes it takes it, we create new systems that causes us to have even more time from things to get to the top to filter to the bottom. So we'll have to see how all this works out in the end. I do think would be remiss leaving the foster care topic though, before we, if we don't mention, specifically foster youth, because at least in our state, we still see far far too many teens that age out of foster care, and are not getting enough support. And I do think that the family first funds that are coming into states that's one way dates are really looking at how can they support teens after they get out of foster care in that young adult hood time when their brains are still not completely They're not completely adults, but they definitely feel like they are completely adults and they've not had the support, they needed to develop the skills that other more typical kids would have developed at home with their, you know, family unit. And so we see far too many of them coming out of foster care with no support right now. So I'm looking forward to that changing. And honestly, those are a lot of the moms that come and what to do a voluntary placement, we have a pretty good number, usually, and typical years of moms who have aged out of foster care, and within a couple of years, are pregnant and have a child and they they're living so on the edge of society and barely making it because they they have no support whatsoever, other than you can go to college for free, if you want now, how you're going to get there and apply and

yeah. Oh, yeah. Knowing how to exactly. You need. I mean, we need parents, children. adolescents need families. Yeah, lessons, you know, the idea that our parenting is over when our kids are 18, as a mother of four that are past 18. Let me tell you, that's a joke. Yeah, it doesn't end at a willingness to think that they need my help, even though I am aware that they need, it's totally different. So yeah, no, you are. And along those same lines, as we're talking about adopting from foster care. Remember the first group that I mentioned, which is about 100,000, plus, kids whose rights are legally terminated, these are terrific kids, they do tend to be older, we have a large number of tweens and teens, who really do need families, and not as foster families. But since we're talking about adoption options, these children are available for adoption. So just throwing it out there that let's when we think of adopting from foster care, there are some just dynamic kids who are simply waiting for families. So

and I do think that that's an option as private infant adoptions become less that, you know, as professionals, we should at least present that option that infant adoption is not the only option for building your family. And if you are childless couple and you really feel like you're ready for a family, that there are kids that you can adopt without having to even become a foster family, you want to look at some of those older kiddos and we do help families a lot do interstate adoptions through foster care. So they never even become a foster family. It's straight to being an adoptive family.

And one last thing and then we are going to move to international but one last thing I know they say I just want to go through some of the first there are still so many first with older kids. I mean, think about it. First time to go sledding, first time to go to Disney World first time to learn to drive a car first date, first, all the first so there's, you know, first don't have to be the first steps. They can bear the first word. There's still a lot of wonderful exciting things that you can a lot of first out there for for older. Yeah, are sure. Hey, guys, can you do us a favor and subscribe or follow depending on what it's called the creating a podcast, this podcast you're listening to. Now you can do that wherever you prefer to catch your podcast on iTunes, Spotify, whatever, you can subscribe right there. That way, not only do you never miss a week of great content, like today's episode and adoption options. But you also have access to our incredibly deep archive of shows over the last 14 years. And it's convenient, it's easy. So please do it. All right now to talk about international adoptions. And certainly of the I think of the three that types of adoptions, we're talking about here. Domestic infant adoptions from foster care and international. It certainly feels like International has gone through more of a sea change shift in the last couple of years. But But in particular, going forward, if that's what we're talking about. Now, what couple will come we'll circle back to say what the shifts have been in the last five years, but there have been a lot of them. So Vivian, let's talk a little about what what are you currently seeing right now with international adoptions and you work with quite a few programs. Hopscotch has a number of, of programs in a number of countries.

Yeah, I think I think what we're seeing the two big trends and international adoption, number one, the numbers continue to decline. And that is not really related to the pandemic that we were seeing that before the pandemic, the latest statistics We have from from us DOL. They were a 1622 international adoptions in in 2020. And so that's not a large number by by any stretch compared to what it used to be 10 or 15 years ago. Yeah,

you're talking 10 or 15 years in the mid 1990s, which is more than that. We were talking over 20,000. So just to kind of keep things in perspective, okay,

so continuing decline and overall numbers. And then also the children that now are coming to the United States as international adoptees are not infants. Not necessarily even toddlers, most of them are between five and 12 years old. A great majority of these children has some sort of disability. And or they are older, and or they are part of a larger sibling group. So international adoption now is not very viable for families looking to adopt a relatively healthy infant. In fact, again, that those USGS statistics indicate that in 2020, there were 20 children under the age of 12 months that came to the United States, that's less than 1% of the total number. So when I advise families are looking at international adoption. Now I encourage them to research special needs and what they feel they could perhaps accommodate in their family. And I encourage them to think about older child adoption. And by older I don't necessarily mean two years old. I mean, school aged children, preteens teens,

it that has been a shift in the in the time I've been involved in that. It used to be we would say older, and we would, you know, two or three year old was considered older. Well, that's now when we say, I think, as you point out the majority of children coming over our school age, correct? Yeah, that's interesting. Well, and and I certainly know that the I was feel like it's the elephant in the room, because China and speaking of China, and what's going to be happening with adoptions from China, in the past China for quite a few years fact, for many, many years, has been the largest placing country to the United States. And currently, and since the pandemic, so this is pandemic related. It has been China has not been processing international adoptions, which is been heartbreaking for families who were already well for families who wanted it, but especially for who are thinking about adopting, but especially for families who were already matched with a child. And many of them were, you know, scheduled to travel. And now everything is on hold the truth I have tried, I contacted NCFA National Council for adoption, and have talked with agencies that have China programs. And I know hopscotch does not so I was doing this. And the truth is, it's anybody's guess that's the honest answer. Nobody knows what's happening. Currently, China is still saying that they are not starting up the program again, because of COVID. Yet, that may be their reason. It's you know, we just simply don't know what the future is going to be. Vivian, anything you want to add to that?

Yeah, I want to add that. While this is certainly an extremely frustrating situation for the families who are in adopting from China waiting for their children to come home, China's kind of an exception, as far as I can see with how strictly they have addressed the pandemic in terms of adoption, and most other programs continue to operate. Things are a little bit slower. There are some additional requirements in many cases, but we are still seeing children come home through through many programs that we offer. Could you answer

the question I was going to ask? Fascinating. Okay. So if you're wanting to adopt internationally, other countries that are there any other as far as we know, other countries that were that were already we're currently prior pre pandemic replacing children have gone back to placing kids is it taking longer are about the same,

I think generally is taking a little bit longer. And it's a sort of moving target that we're continuously monitoring in real time because things are always changing. And we're always getting notices from the US embassies in these countries telling us, okay, we're now needing a PCR test for families to come into the country. Okay, now we need a diplomatic note for the family to be able to enter the country for an adoption, we need a PCR test for the family to come into the embassy. There are situations where Morocco for example, right now has suspended all air travel. So our families that have received referrals through that program while they have the referral, they can't get themselves into the country for the time being to complete the process. So things are really constantly changing. And I don't know how many emails I've sent Saying justify this will probably change again before it's your turn to travel well, but just updating families on the constantly evolving requirements that are making processes take a little bit longer, there are stops and starts, there are some delays. But in the end, we are still really seeing children come home.

Yeah, and that is that's an important. That's an important note. And, and we also generally know, I mean, if you go into it thinking, Alright, this is going to be a bit of a ride, and I'm not going to have a defined time, you'll be better off, I think, because the changes are continuing to happen. And we keep thinking, or at least I keep thinking, Well, surely, in six months, we're going to be past most of this. But then I said that six months ago, I said that 12 months ago, so and I so far have been wrong every time so I'm no longer saying it. Well, we've talked about where we are now. And I think we've talked kind of looking back to where we were. So let's look forward and to later 2022, but also beyond. Let's start going back with domestic infant, Jackie, and Deborah, starting with Deborah and then into Jackie, where do you see domestic infant adoptions going in the future?

Again, I wish I had that crystal ball. But I do think we'll see some increase in moms placing again, particularly when they start having more financial constraints, maybe even later this year, that finances will still be a factor even though that, honestly, that's not why we want moms to place into reality, you know. So I think we'll see that, I think we'll see less choices of agencies, I personally noticed several small agencies, both in Texas and in other states that have closed due to the pandemic and that are permanently closed, that will not reopen. And so I think there'll be a little bit of consolidation of maybe some of the smaller agencies being absorbed by bigger agencies, or they're just being a lack of local services, where there used to be some and folks will be more, you know, going across state lines or shopping on the internet for adoption professionals in the future. We're seeing right now with our home studies, a lot more step parent and grandparent adoptions than we're seeing private placements. So I do think that's pandemic driven, again, that focus on focusing in on your family, and, you know, I've got this child to my home, and oh, my gosh, what would happen? If I got COVID and passed away? Or whatever? Would they get some muscle security benefits? Would they, you know, would they get my insurance or whatever I need to legalize this relationship? So we're, we definitely see that trend. And I think that may still continue, because even if the pandemic is the quote, over if that ever happens, you know, I think that it has impacted our culture enough that that we've really had a shift toward family. And so I think that'll continue as well.

Jackie, I that I should have gone with you first Deborah, Deborah got all the good ones.

I know, Laura did a great job answering that. And I agree with everything she had to say there. I think that I mean, as the pandemic comes to an end, whenever, whenever that will be I know, we thought that we would see strides this year, and here we are in 2022. But I think things will go back to normal, whatever that is. And I think adoptions always going to be there as an option for people who are in a really tough spot. And that's never going to change. We want people to be supported and to be able to parent their children if they have that choice. So the support for families right now has been nice, but I don't think it's going to last forever. So we'll see how that plays out with the pandemic ending. And then also Deborah's point of people needing to work with other adoption professionals to help them with the matching process and domestic adoption. That's something we've already seen in California. I think California is a very attorney driven state, and people use facilitators to help with that piece. So I think that's something that'll definitely continue so people can connect with expectant parents beyond state lines. So I think that trend will definitely continue with our families as well.

Yeah, that makes very good sense. More parents who are children means more often options that need to be explored. Deborah, you and I talked a bit about the future of foster care, anything you want to add about foster care adoptions in the future.

Not just that, we need to invent some system where we can recruit more families for those children. And I think each state has a really marvelous opportunity to do that with the funding that's coming in with the Family First Act. And so I really hope that we all can do some judicious planning to figure out that problem in every state and even in Texas in different regional areas. And a different approach might need to be taken to try to encourage families to step up and accept children from foster care, even if it's a relative, you know, maybe they didn't think they could parent this child, but with appropriate supports put in place, maybe they will be able to. So I think that all that will encourage probably more relatives, but maybe some more non relatives to decide to also become foster parents, even if it's not for the purpose of adoption.

Right. And I do think that kinship adoption, so you know, if if you're looking to adopt, letting your family know, because it kinship can be defined in different ways. But any connection is, is better than none. So even if it's a second cousin, that depending on the state and different states have, and there's also such a thing as fictive kin is often Yes,

your hairdresser, the woman that you pay for coffee at the 711 Every morning, but you have a relationship with her, you know, those we've seen adoptions take place and those kinds of very casual relationships. But that was a relationship with the child. Yeah, that was better for the child than to have no relationship whatsoever, right there.

Yeah, so fictive I guess can be I had not seen it defined quite so broadly. But this if you have a relationship with a child, that would be helpful. This show is brought to you by the support of our partners and these are agencies that believe in our mission of providing education and support to pre and post adoptive and foster and kinship families. One such partner is Spence chafing, as a recipient of the human rights campaigns, all children all families seal of recognition. Spence Chapin is committed to equality and adoption and is proud of the many children who have placed in loving, stable, same sex households. Since champions international adoption program in South Africa in Colombia encourages applicants from all types of families. You can visit Spitz, hyphen, backslash l GTQ. Adoption to learn more. All right, and now the future for Boy, that's a that's an ominous thing to TASKI with Vivian, the future of international adoption, where do you see international adoption going in the future?

Yeah, so I already mentioned I think the two biggest factors or the two biggest things that we're seeing and have been seeing for the last five to 10 years is that international adoption is moving to placement for children who have disabilities, placement for older children placement for sibling groups. And sometimes it's not an order situation, but an and or situation. And when we're thinking about special needs and disabilities, it's it's not just what people may picture down syndrome or genetic conditions or cerebral palsy or limb differences. There's a greater awareness now. And I'm so happy about that, that there are conditions like complex developmental trauma, including neglect and abuse, mental illness, autism, FAS learning differences, and that may not be diagnosed in the child's country of origin. But But agencies and families are increasingly aware that these are conditions affecting international adoptees that are coming to our country. So it's an option, a great option for families that are prepared and have the resources to care for a child with disabilities or an older child or a sibling group. And those are the kinds of things that we can sort of prepare families for and make them aware before they ever step into the process. The other aspect of international adoption is the stuff that's not in our control. What happens in the sending countries, countries, open countries, close countries change the criteria for adoptive parents that they will allow. So that's, again, a moving target where we're monitoring and can't necessarily predict if a program will stay open, what kind of placements will come out of that program? For example, right now, a lot of is on Ukraine, because with the potential war there, it could cause a lot of delays and other impacts on the adoption process. And Ukraine continues to be one of the bigger sending countries to the United States. I was just reading last night that, um, Latvia is closing to us adoptions in July 2022. So those are things that we can try to monitor as adoption service providers, but we certainly cannot give families an idea of what could happen when they get started.

Yeah, yeah, that's such a good point. I am also seeing fewer agencies, are you seeing that as well, consolidation of agencies, or just agencies that are no longer able to, to provide the services that they want to be able to provide? And so are going out of business? Are you seeing that as well? Yeah, unfortunately,

we're seeing that two agencies just relinquishing their accreditation or just closing because the RE accreditation process through USGS and I am is it's grueling, it's, it's time consuming. And it's, it's very difficult to, to keep up with it. So that is one of the reasons why particularly smaller agencies that maybe were just doing one or two programs and home study in their state are, are closing that door. So sadly, that means fewer options for prospective adopters.

It could mean I guess we don't know this. But that means that the agencies who remain though will have broader programs in place with more countries. And also, hopefully, I mean, I speak as someone who believes so strongly in educating and supporting adoptive parents. So hopefully, we will see more pre and post support, just because the agencies will be fewer, but we'll have more programs. So that may be a pipe dream, but I wanted to throw it out there.

Yeah. Yeah, let's see, when, when my husband and I were starting our adoption journey, we were actually looking for a small agency, because we want them to know us. And we wanted to know them. So that was important to us. But it may not be a problem going forward.

Yeah, it may not be an option. That's exactly right. And may not be an

option, and it may not be a problem. I mean, maybe the larger consolidated agencies will do an incredible job. And and everything will be okay.

I hope so. Because I feel the same way that I also think that you know, the smaller more personal agency sometimes do a even a better job. But anyway, nonetheless,

another trend on that we're seeing is that the waiting identified waiting child adoption path is becoming more and more popular for families. In Country programs that allow a soft matching option, where we will receive information on a child that has been cleared for international adoption is waiting, looking for a family and we can try to find that family and then the family can pursue that specific identify child, then a process that generally is very efficient, very streamlined, and completes in 12 to 18 months beginning to end, which is really the fastest way that you can adopt internationally at this point.

Vivian, how do they how do you find a child that is soft to match with?

So the central adoption authorities will provide us with information on the children that they have cleared for international adoption, they have undergone the orphan investigation, and they there's no permanency option for them in their country of origin. So now the central adoption authority is looking in other countries. And depending on the country, there's more or less information on the child but there's, there's generally enough that we can work with to see can we find a family here in the US that is well prepared and ready for such a child? These are usually children with disabilities, sibling groups and and or older children 10 years enough. Okay.

All right, any other trends?

The last one I wanted to point out is that we're seeing particularly with our Eastern Europe, programs that adoptive families are connecting with families of origin. I think in the past international adoption was thought out in part by families who wanted to have a close adoption and didn't want there to be some contact between themselves and the child and the family of origin. But now I think people are more aware how important that information is for the adopted individual more aware how important those connections are for the adoptive person. So more families are open to looking for the birth families and the first families and connecting with them and it's it's working out in some cases and relationships. formed. And I think that's I think that's really great for for everyone involved and I've experienced it myself. I have three children adopted from Eastern Europe and we have contact with all of their families of origin and it's it's been a really positive experience for us.

Excellent. That's interesting. Well, thank you so much, Jackie's Irby, DEBORAH PHILLIPS And Vivian martini for being with us today to talk about adoption options in 2022. And remember, check out the second part of this series, shifting realities in adoption next week. And to our audience. Thanks for joining us today and I will see you next week.

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