Trends in Adoption

Is the economy forcing local residents to postpone adoption or look closer to home?

BOSTON, MA — Is the economy forcing local residents to postpone adoption or making them look closer to home? This question has been asked several times recently of Paula Wisnewski, Director of the Adoption Program at The Home for Little Wanderers.

According to Wisnewski, the economy is indeed driving people to think twice about intercountry adoptions versus public foster care adoptions, but a philosophical shift prior to the economic downturn is also a contributing factor.

"We’ve definitely seen the economy’s impact on intercountry adoptions, but there was a also philosophical shift with The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption when it entered into force for the United States a year ago," said Wisnewski.

The Hague Convention’s goal is to make sure that the best interest of children is always at the forefront. Therefore, countries put more effort into having their children adopted within their country of origin. Due to longer waits and fewer children being referred for intercountry adoption, some families who had been working with The Home to adopt a child from overseas, are now exploring more economical options, such as adopting or fostering children from the United States.

"Intercountry adoption fees can be in the $10,000 - $30,000 range compared to public foster care adoption which has no fees and in fact subsidies are often available to families who adopt. Several families who embarked on the journey to adopt privately, from countries like Ethiopia, Russia, and China, have become more hesitant or are unable to finance costs through home equity loans as they would have previously. They are now turning to the public sector by going through the Department of Children and Families (DCF) foster care adoption system. As a result, The Home has also experienced a shift. Potential adoptive parents who originally wanted infants are now considering a frequently overlooked population ? older children from within the child welfare system."

While Wisnewski recognizes that finances are often an important part of a family’s decision to adopt, she stresses that it is important for prospective families to evaluate several factors, including the joys and challenges unique to adopting an older child from the DCF foster care adoption system. She also emphasizes that education about adopting children, domestically or internationally; who have experienced abuse and/or neglect is essential before making a permanent commitment.

"The changing adoption trends are creating opportunities for some of the State’s most underserved and vulnerable children. Providing these children with a loving home, together with the child’s own resilience, will give them a chance at the futures that they deserve. The Home realizes that the best place for children is in a safe, nurturing, and permanent home. It is our goal to find a home that will be a good fit with a therapeutic parental presence since many children have experienced disruption and trauma in their past."

To learn more about The Home for Little Wanderers DCF foster care or intercountry adoption programs, please visit or attend a free informational meeting on Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at The Home for Little Wanderers, Knight Children’s Center, 161 South Huntington Ave., Jamaica Plain. Please R.S.V.P. to Paula Wisnewski at 617-264-5309 or



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