The average American family has changed throughout the ages. From one generation to the next the number of children, roles of family members, and overall lifestyle have undergone various modifications and adaptations. One specific part of the American family that has emerged as a prominent aspect of society is the topic of adoption in the United States. Adoption is the process where a person gains the right of guardianship to another. It is a permanent transfer of legal parentage from one party to another. Adoptees, the persons adopted into new custody, are usually children and are most commonly near the age of 6, but can be any age. Adoption occurs in many forms between both biologically related and non-biologically related parties. People choose to adopt children for various reasons. The most common reasons stem from complications with having children and other medical causes. Reasons also include issues with finances, familial circumstances, social and religious values, and out of necessity. People also consider adoption simply because they feel adoption is the right option for them. Currently in the United States, around 135,000 children are adopted into new families each year. Out of this number, about seventy-four percent include domestic, and the other twenty-six percent represent all international adoptions into the United States. As previously mentioned, there are two categories of adoptions. International adoption is the adopting of one from any country outside the area of residence. Domestic adoption occurs when one adopts from their own country of residence. Domestic adoption comprises the majority of adoptions in the US. Both have unique characteristics and history. The current process for adoption in America has grown throughout its existence and continues to develop as our social climate and economic conditions change.
Adoption is not a new concept. It has existed for as long as humans have in one form or another. Even before it had an official term, system, or any governing bodies, adoption was a method of dealing with children. Large differences are visible between two main eras, which are before the twentieth century and after that with the modern age of adoption. Before he twentieth century adoption was a very sensitive topic. Adoptions were secretive due to stigma surrounding possible reasons for adopting of putting a child up for adoption. For example, there was much shame around unmarried mothers also and the possibility of children being labeled as illegitimate, which potentially created much turmoil for the affected family and the child. Political, economic, and social gain were common motivators. Other grounds for the decision of putting a child up for adoption included poverty, illnesses, and family crises.
These conditions are very similar to today’s factors for adoption in that they place emphasis on the welfare of the adoptee. Adoptions before the modern age were very informal because there was no set process or precedent. These unofficial adoptions ended in 1851, when the United States passed its first laws pertaining to adoptees. The Adoption of Children Act, passed in Massachusetts, placed new requirements on potential adoptive parents in order to secure safe living conditions for an adoptee. In recent history, major events like wars or population shifts left greater numbers of orphaned children. This lead to a wider need for a formal adoption system. Governments continued to work towards protecting the interests of children.
Economic prosperity has resulted in the increased founding and advancements of orphanages and managing organizations. Today the modern adoption process is more regulated and widely utilized. People openly discuss adoption and it has emerged at the forefront of legislation in many countries. Many experts have also done research to support adoption as a means to provide a stable environment for children to grow healthily. All levels of government in the United States recognize and regulate adoption, which shows the progress of adoption from its earliest stages. In addition to health problems, factors that contribute to today’s adoptions come from a rapidly growing population, lack of proper living conditions, and distinct economic division. For example, international adoption in the United States tends to be more common from countries with higher population, which generally creates a greater need for adopters because of lack of resources. Countries such as China, Russia, Guatemala, South Korea, Ethiopia, and India all tend to have greater rates for international adoption into the United States.
The current process for adopting children is highly extensive. Both international and domestic adoptions take much time and careful work, all to ensure the security of potential adoptees. Adoption agencies facilitate this work and the adoptions themselves, working directly with orphanages and families giving children for adoption. Popular agencies such as Bethany Christian Services, Gladney Center for Adoption, Nightlight, American Adoption and WACAP (World Association for Children and Parents) offer help in this field constantly evolving field. Agencies provide information and services on adoption to perspective parents and help them complete the necessary criteria to adopt a child. Perspective adoptive parents go thorough comprehensive vetting and background checks. They also require countless meetings, interviews, counseling, and specific documents in order to be approved before adopting. In addition, adopting a child can cost anywhere from thirty thousand to fifty thousand dollars for international adoptions. Costs from travel, adoption agencies, consultations, medical fees, and other expenses add up quickly and vary depending on the situation and the adoptee’s country of origin. Domestic adoption cost tend to be lower as a result of adopting children from the foster care system, but can still be very expensive.
Both international and domestic adoptions have had immensely positive widespread effects. Adoption has changed the way people create families. It has created a more diverse family and helped millions of children find forever homes. It fosters new beginnings in situations where chances of healthy living were slim. While there are still issues with modern adoption such as concerns over trans-racial adoption, some argue that children might feel estranged from their original race or the culture they grow up with because of differences, the system will continue to improve and evolve just as it has over the years. For example many are fighting to refute claims of trans-racial adoption being detrimental to adoptees with evidence on decreasing international adoption rates and racial composition information. Evidence like this further advocates adoption regardless of race or orientation in order to promote the betterment of welfare for a maximum number of children. It also demonstrates the progressive ideas and the push towards the future with a system that places the wellbeing of children at the top of its goals. With adoptions increasing as years pass and the world develops, the adoption process in America itself continues to strive for better as the future approaches, just as it has in the past.