November is a time that most of us consider to be the beginning of festivities, home cooked meals, and giving thanks. November isn’t only about Thanksgiving, however. It is also National Adoption Month, and one of the main focuses throughout this month is the adoption of children currently in foster care.
In 1976, the Massachusetts Governor, Mike Dukakis, initiated “Adoption Week.” This was the first major effort to promote adoption and the need to get children out of the foster care system. The popularity for promoting adoption soon grew, and due to the large number of states participating in events and promotions of adoption, President Bill Clinton made November the official adoption month in 1995.
In the United States, about 437,000 children are in foster care as of 2016 according to the AFCARS Report. Only about 135,000 children are adopted in the United States every year. More than 60 percent of the children in foster care spend at least 2-5 years in the system, while some never get adopted – they age out of the foster care system instead. More than half of the children in the foster care system are 6 years of age or older.
While only 2 percent of Americans have actually adopted a child, more than one third of couples have considered it. Although there are no official statistics on how many people in the United States are waiting to adopt, experts estimate that almost 1 to 2 million couples could be waiting every year to adopt a child. The promotion of adopting children this month is meant to encourage adoption as an option for everyone, therefore keeping less children in foster care.
The adoption process is hard, and it differs from state to state. On average, it takes 4 to 12 months to complete the steps necessary to be licensed to adopt or foster a child. Working through an agency to become licensed to foster and then adopt can cost little to nothing, whereas the cost of working through an attorney and not undergoing the process of working with an agency can range from $8,000 to $40,000.
One of the most easily overlooked ways to celebrate and promote adoption month is to just educate others and yourself about adoption. Continue learning about adoption and spreading the word because social awareness is one of the first steps in really creating change.