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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

'Anti-adoption drumbeat' leaves kids in foster care

Naomi Schaefer Riley hears an "anti-adoption drumbeat" from the media. "In the wake of the Dobbs decision, the Left wants to make sure that no one thinks adoption is preferable to abortion," she writes.

In fiscal 2021, 114,000 children in foster care were waiting for adoptive parents, according to federal data. Only 54,200 found a "forever family," a 6 percent drop from the previous year and an 18 percent decline from 2019.

White couples adopting non-white children are accused of a "savior" mentality in an Atlantic discussion between Nicole Chung, who was adopted from Korea, and Tony Hynes, a black adoptee raised by a white lesbian couple.

"Especially when people learn that my birth mother is schizophrenic, or that I was in an orphanage and experienced the foster-care system, they want to believe that my adoptive moms saved me," says Hynes, who now works with adult adoptees.

Chung responds: “Yeah, sometimes it’s hard for me not to hear the assertion that ‘more kids should be adopted’ as ‘more kids should experience the trauma of being separated from their families of origin.’”

Children are "removed from their homes because of chronic or severe abuse and neglect," usually before the age of three, writes Schaeffer Riley. It's not about seeing "families of color" as "less fit," as Hynes puts it, she argues.

Fewer children are coming into foster care, and those who are placed stay there longer, she writes. Despite federal law calling for states to end parental rights if a child has been in care for 15 of the past 22 months, the median time in foster care has crept up to 21 months.

If a parent cannot reunify with a child after the first year, the likelihood that he or she will ever be able to do so diminishes significantly. But while we move children back and forth from their biological family to a foster family, or between multiple foster families, we are preventing them from developing a secure attachment to caregivers, subjecting them to trauma beyond what they have already experienced from their families of origin, and making it harder for them to find adoptive homes.

"Almost 20,000 kids aged out of foster care last year without being reunified or finding an adoptive home," writes Schaefer Riley. Their prospects are bleak. "Acting earlier to make sure that children spend less time in foster care when they are younger could result in fewer of them exiting care without a family."

Federal adoption law discriminates against low-income mothers. argues Sarah Katz, a clinical law professor at Temple, in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "The vast majority of children in foster care are there not because of allegations of physical or sexual abuse, but because of allegations of neglect," she writes. Often that means the family is poor.

Federal law, designed to ensure children are "not trapped in foster care forever," severs children's ties to their biological parents -- and the rest of their family. "Too often, they don’t gain a new adoptive family, so they are left with nothing."

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