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Published April 21, 2012, 11:30 PM

Wait to adopt healthy babies keeps growing

Patience is a virtue – especially if you plan to adopt. Adoption experts say the number of healthy babies available for adoption domestically and overseas remains very limited and won’t increase anytime soon.

Patience is a virtue – especially if you plan to adopt.

Adoption experts say the number of healthy babies available for adoption domestically and overseas remains very limited and won’t increase anytime soon.

Domestically, just 1 to 2 percent of pregnant mothers will make an adoption plan, says Vicki Haugen, social worker at Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota.

Several factors contribute to that low number.

The first is the reduced stigma in becoming an unwed parent. In fact, some birth parents are even shamed by others if they disclose efforts to make an adoption plan, Haugen says.

“They get accused of taking the easy way out and not taking responsibility, when in fact, what we see in those moms or couples is a really thoughtful process. It is one of the most loving and responsible things you can do,” Haugen says.

Another issue has been a de-emphasized focus on adoption, which even extends to government levels, Haugen says. Years ago, young mothers were presented with adoption as if it were the only option.

Today, adoption is often overlooked. “It’s almost like the pendulum has swung the other way,” she says.

In efforts to correct this, the government has developed a federally funded curriculum for health-care providers so they will present adoption as an equal alternative when counseling a patient with an unexpected pregnancy, Haugen says.

International adoption used to be the way to go if parents didn’t want to wait years for a healthy baby.

That’s no longer the case. The number of international adoptions decreased 27 percent in 2009 and 44 percent in the past five years, according to Resolve, a newsletter published by the National Infertility Association.

Parents used to wait just a year to adopt a healthy baby in China. Today, that wait can stretch to six years, Haugen says.

Factors like government crackdowns on corrupt adoption processes and changing social and economic policies – such as the softening of China’s one-child mandate – have contributed to fewer adoptable newborns from other countries, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

In some countries, governments have made an effort to put domestic adoption first. Many U.S. parents used to adopt babies from Russia, but the vast majority of those children are now matched with Russian parents, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

Still, there is hope for prospective parents who are willing to broaden their search beyond healthy infants, Haugen says.

“For those who are open to children with some kind of special needs, those can happen very quickly,” Haugen says.

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