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National Adoption Month 2010, Week One: Get the Facts

November 2, 2010

Note: This blog post is part one of a five-part, month-long series by the Miriam Project intended to celebrate and treasure the miracle of adoption. We hope that you will check back each week in our effort to improve awareness, education and perspectives about adoption. You can view subsequent parts of our blog series as they become available by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook, or bookmarking our NAM2010 link.

By Rob Heaton, Miriam Project Student Assistant

Chances are that you’re reading this post as someone who is “aware” that adoption, either in principle or as a possibility for motherless and fatherless children, exists. In that respect, referring to November as National Adoption Awareness Month is a bit of a misnomer. Perhaps the proper goal for this month is to increase education, knowledge and understanding about adoption – all the while combating misconceptions you may have about the adoption process. A loftier goal (or rather, a by-product of the original goal) would attempt to ensure that the many thousands of children around the globe awaiting adoption could finally find a place to call home and a couple to call “Mom” and “Dad.”

Adoptive Parents and Child

The Miriam Project facilitates domestic adoptions in central Indiana, serving many families and children.

With those goals in mind, the Miriam Project is kicking off its five-part, month-long blog series on National Adoption Month by encouraging you to understand facts and realities about adoption. These facts are likely to make you a more powerful advocate for adoption in your community and within your sphere of influence!

Without further ado, here are some vital adoption-related facts:

  • Each November, National Adoption Month is commemorated by an official declaration of the President of the United States. Yesterday (November 1, 2010), Barack Obama issued his Presidential Proclamation, which read, in part:

Giving a child a strong foundation – a home, a family to love, and a safe place to grow – is one of life’s greatest and most generous gifts. Through adoption, both domestic and international, Americans from across our country have provided secure environments for children who need them, and these families have benefited from the joy an adopted child can bring. Thanks to their nurturing and care, more young people have been able to realize their potential and lead full, happy lives. This year, we celebrate National Adoption Month to recognize adoption as a positive and powerful force in countless American lives, and to encourage the adoption of children from foster care.

  • As of September 30, 2009, almost 424,000 children were in foster care in the United States.
  • The average age of a child in foster care is between 9 and 10 years.
  • While the intention was for the majority of these children to eventually be reunited with their parents or other relatives, one-quarter of them – over 102,000 children – were seeking an adoptive home.
  • Most of these children awaiting adoption are White or Caucasian (over 167,000, or 40 percent).
  • Sixty-eight percent of Americans overestimate the number of Black or African-American children awaiting adoption from the foster care system.
  • In all, almost 115,000 American children are estimated to be awaiting adoption (this number does not count those yet to be born!).
  • Sixty-one percent of Americans underestimate the number of children awaiting an adoptive family.
  • Twenty percent of children, or nearly 56,000, leaving foster care in 2009 were adopted.
  • Children awaiting adoption from the foster care system average between 7 and 8 years of age, but were removed from their parents or other caretakers around age 4, on average.
  • In the state of Indiana, adoptions are up in 2010 as compared to 2009. The state’s Department of Child Services averages around 1100-1200 adoptions per year; through July, 841 placements were completed.
  • UNICEF estimates that there are between 132 and 143 million orphaned children worldwide. Approximately 13 million of these children classified as orphans have lost both biological parents.
  • Thirty percent of Americans have considered, or are considering, adoption as a means by which to expand their family.
  • Almost half of all Americans – 47 percent – have been touched by adoption, whether by being an adoptee themselves, adopting a child, or by having a family member or friend who was adopted.
  • While the cost of adoptions varies by agency, international adoptions are generally more expensive than domestic adoptions.
  • Adoptions from the foster care system are less expensive than newborn adoptions, both domestic and international.

With respect to the Miriam Project, consider these facts:

  • If she so chooses, a birth mother is able to select a family for her child.
  • Services from the Miriam Project are offered at no cost to birth mothers or birth fathers.
  • Adoptive parents must complete an extensive background check, personal interviews, home studies and other documents before they are able to adopt.
  • The Miriam Project is able to help step-parents adopt their step-children.
  • The Miriam Project provides counseling and support services to birth mothers before and after their child has been placed.
  • The Miriam Project facilitates both open and confidential adoptions.

We hope you learned something new about adoption through these various facts and figures. Don’t be bashful – feel free to share these data with your friends and family! And be sure to check back next week for Week Two of our five-part, month-long blog series for National Adoption Month 2010.

The facts listed above are based from research compiled by government offices and advocacy organizations as well as the Miriam Project itself. If you have the time, we encourage you to read these original sources for yourself for a more thorough picture of the adoption landscape.

National Adoption Month
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
United States Department of Health and Human Services: Administration for Children & Families
Indiana Department of Child Services

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