Adopting a child is a permanently life-changing experience. When a couple chooses to adopt, they are saying (both legally and socially) that they are devoting the next several decades of their lives towards raising, teaching, and providing for a child. Other than certain biological factors, it is quite literally the same as giving birth.
What happens, though, when a couple finds out that they simply are not capable of providing what the child needs? Imagine the horror: Finding out that, despite wanting children for your entire life, you wake up to realize that you are failing the adopted child in your own home. It is undeniable that you would feel guilty, ashamed, and possibly even angry about the situation.
Fortunately, there are things that couples can do to help in situations like this, but unfortunately, just like giving birth, you are not able to merely say “I can’t do this” and bring the child back to the adoption agency.
However, that is exactly what one recently-shut-down Facebook group was trying to facilitate. While definitely not the first group of its kind to talk about “re-homing” children, this Facebook group was so brazenly out in the open that it caught major media and police attention.
It is known that in order to transfer a child out of an adopted home into a new one, a court order was required. It was not until recently, however, that operating outside those bounds has been criminalized. Wisconsin was the first state to demonize such a practice, and it is spreading across the US like wild-fire.
For good reason, too. A child in an adopted home can already feel like an outsider, with difficulties truly opening up to their new family, but when a child is shuffled between homes repeatedly, they are far more likely to completely shut off emotionally. This can be due to many things, including internalized fears that they themselves are the problem, and that they are responsible for why no one wants to keeps them. Similar to how children in divorces often feel responsible.
No details about any underground “re-homings” from this group have been released yet, but the group had just shy of 250 members at the time it was deleted, and it is expected that they were all interested in either receiving a re-homed child, or re-homing one themselves.
The news that Florida may strike the ban on homosexual couples adopting, which was made in 1977, has been met with mixed response.
Certain groups are all for it, calling it a massive step forward for the rights of gay couples, but certain others are opposed to it, as evidenced by the popular-vote constitutional amendment against gay marriage made several years ago.
Florida is still a Republican-controlled state, and the conservative politicians have responded to the homosexual adoption issue by crafting a new bill that would put control in the individual adoption agencies’ hands.
The plan, which was approved by the House Health & Human Services Committee just this week, allows “private child-placing agencies to object to performing, assisting in, recommending, consenting to, or participating in the placement of a child if a placement violates the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”
Basically, this would allow agencies to choose to allow adoptions to homosexual couples if they wanted to, based on their own particular moral or religious grounds.
The proposal goes on to specifically mention that any adoption agency that chooses to not allow homosexual adoptions for moral or religious reasons will be protected from losing its ability to participate in government programs, as well as protecting the business license, and any existing grants or contracts. Michigan is debating a similar proposal, as well.
It is unknown whether this proposal will make it into law, but until it does (and possibly even after), it will undoubtedly remain a source of intense debate and argument.
We always hear about how difficult the process of adopting can be for potential parents, but what about the children? Perhaps the emotional toll of waiting for a family outweighs the legal hardships – being adopted is a major challenge for aging children in foster care.
It’s difficult to wrap your mind around: separated from your siblings, removed from an abusive home, seeing your 16th birthday under the legal custody of a foster home – yet this is reality for thousands of teens across America. At a time when average teens are wishing for a new car or the latest smartphone, many are simply wishing for a family.
The longer a child remains under protective foster care, the chance of finding a new family significantly shrinks. Consider the current situation in Mississippi, where the average adoption age in 2010 was 6.3-years-old. According to this figure, children 13-years-old and older had a 10 percent chance of being adopted.
What happens to a child who loses their chance for adoption? They’re forced to leave the adoption program at 21-years-old, in many cases not knowing any relatives. Others elect to drop from the program at 18, but it’s mostly a matter of how these young adults will support themselves going forward.
Adoption specialists believe the problem is our mentality about teens – we simply write them off as being set in their ways. Parents still have a major opportunity to make an impression in the life of a foster care teen, teens who want the love of a family above anything else.
Isn’t it time to address the bigger issue in adoption? Every child deserves the love of a family, regardless of age. Here is a chance for would-be parents to make an even bigger difference in adopting a child.
Original story from The Clarion-Ledger.
Florida’s international adoption rates are on the upswing. While it’s welcome news for adoptive parents in Canada, the uptick is more worrisome in America. According to adoption officials, Floridian mothers – citing very real concerns over racism – are placing children up for adoption elsewhere to escape domestic persecution.
Reports show a growing number of Florida mothers wish to place their African-American or mixed race children up for adoption in countries like Canada. These fearful mothers are hoping for a better life for their children, a life free from the intolerance they’ve personally experienced.
One needn’t look far along national headlines to sense racial tension in America. The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO has inspired protests and summoned the National Guard.
The high-profile shooting death of unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin occurred only a year before. The incident sparked similar protests and seems to have had a ripple effect throughout the region. There are legitimate concerns on behalf of the African-American community whether their children are safe and secure.
Placing a child up for adoption is a difficult decision, one often made to potentially provide a better parental foundation. Some mothers, especially among early age brackets, simply don’t have the means or resources to provide for their children. These challenges in America occasionally open the door for international solutions.
Apart from curtailing racism, Canada’s parental-leave benefits have proved a powerful incentive for Florida mothers. The mothers believe their children will have a better opportunity to bond with their adopted parents in these cases.
For now it seems one of the least visible victims of domestic racism – adoptive parents looking to foster a loving environment for adopted children – will suffer immediate consequences. This trend is likely to continue in Florida until fears of racism are extinguished in some form or another.
Unlike many celebrities seeking international adoptions, one celebrity adopted two children from the United States. Steven Spielberg, the noted film director, screenwriter and producer, adopted two African-American children from the Los Angeles foster care system and then went on to establish the Children’s Action Network (CAN), a non-profit organization that is dedicated to finding permanent homes to the thousands of children in foster care and improving the outcomes for the more than 500,000 children in system, as well.
In recent years, international adoption has become vastly popular by celebrities, with the much hyped adoptions of Angelina Jolie’s and Madonna’s children. The number of healthy newborns and infants available in this country has been decreasing in recent years. Because of this, more and more U.S. citizens have pursued international adoptions.
Nevertheless, in the United States alone, there are 500,000-600,000 children that live in our foster care system, with over 200,000 awaiting permanent homes. Beginning in the 1990’s, legislative measures were passed by Congress aimed at assisting those children in the system. The Adoption Promotion and Stability Act of 1996 provided a tax credit available for those individuals who adopted foster care children, with the credit rising as high as $13,360 per child in some years. In a controversial 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable healthcare legislation, better known as Obamacare. One part of this legislation is the extension, expansion and enhancement of the adoption tax credit provided by the federal government, with legislation introduced this year that would not only expand the credit, but make it permanently refundable as well.
When an international adoption takes place, although the tax credit wasn’t meant for foreign children, those adopting receive the same tax benefits as those who adopt domestically. Though international adoptions may add to the diversity of our nation, the intended beneficiaries of the tax credit legislation are those “lost in the system” children in this country’s foster care system. There are those who feel the tax credit should be used to reclaim children from the foster care system, not subsidize international adoptions. Accordingly, they feel the international portion of the tax credit should not be renewed, but allowed to expire, in order to turn taxpayer resources, once again, back to those whom the credit was aimed for – the children in the foster care system.
When an unmarried parent adopts his or her partner’s biological or adoptive child without eliminating the parental rights of the biological parent, this is considered second parent adoption. In Florida, second parent adoptions are treated the same as regular adoptions, which means there will be a home study, parental fitness tests, court appearances and plenty of paperwork. This adoption, in most cases, gives the second parent full parental rights. Some state legislatures have voluntarily established domestic partnership relations by statute as a way to recognize same-sex unions. However, domestic partnerships may involve either different sex or same sex couples.
There are those individuals who are in a domestic partnership who think that because they take care of their partner’s child, they will have legal rights to that child. However, this is not true, as the only way to be legally secure is through a second parent adoption. Without this type of adoption, the non-biological parent in the relationship will have no legal rights to the child. He or she will not be allowed to make important decisions and share in custody of the child should something happen to the relationship or to the biological parent of the child.
In the Orlando area, the most common couples obtaining second parent adoptions are lesbian couples with one partner being the biological parent. Others who use this type of adoption are gay male couples, couples where one partner has previously adopted a child of his or her own and couples where one partner has a biological child with a previous relationship and the other biological parent has given up his or her parental rights.
To obtain a second parent adoption, you will need consent from the third party biological parent, or will need an already legal parent to terminate his or her parental rights.
There are those states which do not allow gay couples to obtain second parent adoptions. Gay adoption was illegal in Florida until just a few years ago, and although it isn’t easy to receive approval for a second parent adoption, it is possible in Florida today.