Thoughts on International and Foster Care Adoption

Monday, June 10, 2013


Some critics of international adoption use the argument that there are plenty of children here in the U.S. who need permanent families and these children should be our priority.

Gladney finds families for children in the Texas state foster care system and we find families for orphans in 7 countries.

With that as background, here is my perspective…..

Children whose parents aren’t living or who are unable to care for them should be our priority, period. The life of a child in Ethiopia or Colombia or China or Russia is as important as the life of a child in the U.S.

Some of our families sense a call, faith-based or otherwise, to adopt from a certain country and some sense a call to adopt from the foster care system. One is not more right or more noble than the other. Rather, we should simply applaud them all for responding to the stirring in their hearts.

There are, however, distinctions worth noting between the foster care system challenges and the global orphan crisis. Among them:

·         Magnitude of the problem – There are just over 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S. About 25% are “adoptable”, meaning parental rights have been relinquished. Using the more narrow definition of orphan (both parents deceased), there are roughly 20,000,000. Using the broader definition (one parent alive, but can’t provide care), there are over 150,000,000.

·         Safety Net – While poverty and hunger certainly exist in the U.S., children living in poor communities here still have access to education, medical care, food and shelter. There is no equivalent safety net in the poorest countries. Most children without parents are on the streets struggling to survive each day.

·         Trends – The number of children in foster care in the U.S. has been declining, while the number of orphans continues to rise due to poverty, war and disease.

We need to be cognizant of the needs of all vulnerable children – in the U.S. and beyond our shores.  

8 comments:

Mary Ann said...

Amen! My test for the truth is to question ~ When judgment day comes, will one be asked, "why did you adopt outside the US? ". I think not.

Kendra said...

EXACTLY how we feel! Thank you for sharing this with us. This has been one of the most frequent things we have to respond to since coming home with our Gladney baby (from China) in 2011. Thankfully though most people really understand when we explain some of our reasons we decided to adopt internationally (reasons you mentioned as well).

Unknown said...

Adoption helps children grow up with a much better chance at a healthy, normal life. Every child deserves the pursuit of happiness. Children need family and benefit by family. They often come to us (whether from the USA or from afar) with challenges, just like all humans do. They deserve the love and support of a family to help them pursue a normal, healthy, and potentially happy life. It doesn't matter where they are from. Adoption gives kids (who would likely have a very small chance at a normal, productive life) a fair shot at a good life. Keep spreading this word!

Zach said...

Your 20 million and 150 million figures apply to international orphans? The way you have worded it makes it sound like those are in the US.

Frank said...

I appreciate the encouraging comments. These are thoughts that have been floating around in my head for some time. And Zach, thanks for your comment. To be clear, the 20 million and 153 million figures refer to international orphans, primarily in the "Developing" countries.

Trey said...

An excellent post, and one that should be evangelized beyond this forum. The scope of the worldwide issue is not widely known, and this creates an unnecessary barrier to acknowledgement and, ultimately, assistance.

Frank said...

Trey,
I agree with you that the scope of the problem is not widely known. Part of the challenge is simply awareness and education, which is why I've gotten so pumped about Both Ends Burning and "Stuck".

Trey said...

Joined B.E.B. today. Very impressed with this organization. Thanks for the heads up...I will be telling friends and neighbors.