Adoption in the United States

In the United States, adoption is permanently placing a minor (a person under the age of 18) with a parent or parents other than the birth parents.


Adoptions in the United States may be either domestic or from another country. Domestic adoptions can be arranged either through a state agency, an adoption agency, or independently.[1]

Adoption agencies must be licensed by the state in which they operate.[2] The U.S. government maintains a website, Child Welfare Information Gateway, which lists each state's licensed agencies. There are both private and public adoption agencies. Private adoption agencies often focus on infant adoptions, while public adoption agencies typically help find homes for waiting children, many of them presently in foster care and in need of a permanent loving home.[3] To assist in the adoption of waiting children, there is a U.S. government-affiliated website,, assisting in sharing information about these children with potential adoptive parents.[4] The North American Council on Adoptable Children provides information on financial assistance to adoptive parents (called adoption subsidies) when adopting a child with special needs.[5]

Independent adoptions are usually arranged by attorneys and typically involve newborn children. Approximately 55% of all U.S. newborn adoptions are completed via independent adoption.[6]

The 2000 census was the first census in which adoption statistics were collected. The estimated number of children adopted in the year 2000 was slightly over 128,000, bringing the total U.S. population of adopted children to 2,058,915.[7] In 2008 the number of children adopted increased to nearly 136,000.[8]

Foster care system

A young girl is adopted out of the foster care system

The United States foster care system enables adults to care for minor children who are not able to live with their biological parents. In fiscal year 2000, 150,703 foster children were adopted in the United States, many by their foster parents or relatives of their biological parents. The enactment of the Adoption and Safe Families Act in 1997 has approximately doubled the number of children adopted from foster care in the United States. If a child in the U.S. governmental foster care system is not adopted or returned to the custody of their birth parents by the age of 18 years, they are aged out of the system on their 18th birthday. To help encourage the adoption of children presently in foster care, adoption exchanges were created, so the county adoption agencies around the country could have central data base to help waiting children find homes. This allows prospective adoptive parents to not only see children waiting for adoption in their own region, but throughout the nation.[9] The central adoption exchange is, created through a grant of the Children's Bureau, U.S. Office of Administration of Children and Families.[10]

Wide impact

Adoption is changing the way people form families, as well as affecting the way society perceives the fundamental concepts of life such as nature and nurture and the role of biological relations with an adoptive family member. Because of changes in adoption over the last few decades – changes that include open adoption, gay adoption, international adoptions and trans-racial (racial transformation) adoptions, and a focus on moving children out of the foster care system into adoptive families – the impact of adoption on the basic unit of society and the family, has been enormous.[11]

Adoption is often thought of as a beautiful process. The transfer of parental rights grants birth parents a second chance at fulfilling life goals while placing their child into the arms of someone who not only longs for a precious infant but is prepared for raising them. The adoptee also grows up knowing that they have parents who chose them and birth parents who loved them enough to place them for adoption so that they could have a chance at a better life. The adoption triad or the relationship between the birth parents, adoptive parents, and the adoptee seemingly all benefit from adoption. Evidently all outcomes of adoption seem wonderful, however, a closer look reveals adoption is the cause of many lifelong issues for the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the adoptee. Adoption research scholars have reported seven core issues to consistently be associated with the unnatural processes of adoption. Problems with loss, grief, rejection, guilt and shame, identity, intimacy, and control uniquely affect each member of the adoption triad. It is important to be mindful of the realities of adoptions as they permanently impact those involved. [12]

Trans-racial adoption

The adoption of children of one race by parents of another race, which began officially in the United States in 1948, has always generated controversy.[13] The argument often comes down to opposing views as to who gets to decide what is the "best interest" of children. Critics of transracial adoption question whether white American parents can effectively prepare children of color to deal with racism. Others wonder where the children raised by white parents will find social acceptance as adults. Testimony from many transracially adopted adults who grew up in white families illustrates the "in-between" status many adoptees feel, not belonging to or feeling comfortable in communities of color or among white society.[14] Another source of controversy is the history of the widespread removal of children from families and communities of color, which has been shown by historians to have been a tool to regulate families and oppress communities, dating back to slavery times and during the now-discredited Indian Boarding School movement of the early twentieth century.[15] Given this history of child removal, the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) condemned transracial adoptions in 1972 in their historic Position Statement. In that paper, the NABSW equated the removal of African American children from their families of origin—and their placement in white homes—with "cultural genocide."[16]

Pro-transracial adoption advocates argue that there are more white families seeking to adopt than there are minority families; conversely, there are more minority children available for adoption. For example, in 2009, 41% of children available for adoption were African American, 40% were white children, and 15% were Hispanic children.[17] This disparity often results in a lower cost to adopt children from ethnic minorities - usually through special adoption grants rather than fee discrimination. Many critics decry the exchange of money for children, whether as "fees for service" or otherwise, arguing that no children of any race should ever be for sale. Proponents point out practicality in the current systems. This situation is morally difficult because the adoptive families see adoption as a great benefit to trans-racially adopted children, while some minorities see it as an assault on their culture. In 2004, 26 percent of African-American children adopted from foster care were adopted trans-racially.[18] Government agencies have varied over time in their willingness to facilitate trans-racial adoptions. "Since 1994, white prospective parents have filed, and largely won, more than two dozen discrimination lawsuits, according to state and federal court records."[18] There is also a great need to place these children; in 2004 more than 45,000 African-American children were waiting to be adopted from foster care.[18]

In 2013, 7,092 kids were adopted from foreign countries down from 22,991 in 2004. [18] This trend has helped lower the resistance to trans-racial adoptions in the United States, at least for Asian and Hispanic children, although there is still high demand for Caucasian children, who usually come from Eastern Europe.

As the children adopted in the early days of the transracial adoption experiment have reached middle age, a growing chorus of voices from adult transracial adoptees has emerged. Their collective experience can be found in films,[19][20] scholarly articles, memoirs,[21] blogs,[22] and numerous books on the subject.[23][24]

Adoption reform

No sooner were US adoptions made secretive with original birth records sealed, than those adopted began to seek reform. Jean Paton, author of Breaking Silence and founder of Orphan Voyage in 1954, is regarded as the mother of adoption reform and reunification efforts. Jean Paton mentored adoptee Judith Land, "Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child" during her adoption search. Florence Fisher organized The ALMA Society (Adoptees Liberation Movement Association) in 1972, Emma May Vilardi created International Soundex Reunion Registry (ISRR) in 1975, Lee Campbell and other birthmothers joined the fight for Open Records forming Concerned United Birthparents (CUB) in 1976, and by the spring of 1979 representatives of 32 organizations from 33 states, Canada and Mexico gathered together in DC to establish the American Adoption Congress (AAC). The Triadoption Library began keeping records in 1978 showing 52 search/support/reform organizations, by 1985 there were over 550 worldwide.[25]

Adoption Reform encompasses family preservation, adoptees' access to original birth certificates, birth and adoptive families having direct access to each other (open adoption) and all related records (open records).

The Adoption Triangle by Annette Baran, Reuben Pannor and Arthur Sorosky; Twice Born and Lost and Found by Betty Jean Lifton; I Would Have Searched Forever by Sandra Musser; The Adoption Searchbook: Techniques for Tracing People by Mary Jo Rillera; The Politics of Adoption by Mary Kathleen Benet; Dear Birthmother by Kathleen Silber and Phylis Speedlin; all published in the 1970s and still in print, were instrumental in examining and defining the foundation of reform.[26]

As of July 2014, 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legal provisions for enforceable open adoption contact agreements, and an additional six states have provisions for enforceable agreements with some limitations.[27] Each year additional states consider law changes that give persons separated by adoption access to information about themselves and each other.[28] As of 2013, over 85% of adoptions in the US are either semi- or completely open.[29]

Cost of Adoption

Prohibitive Cost

Adoption costs can range from almost nothing for foster care adoptions to over $50,000 for international adoptions, in 2015 U.S average adoption costs is $37,000.[30] High costs negatively impact the demand for adoption, as fewer prospective adoptive families can afford to adopt, but the number of children that need adopted stays the same or increases. As a result, prospective adopters may seek less cost prohibitive alternatives to adoption like fertility treatments or privately arranged adoptions.[31]

Source of Costs

The cost of adoption varies widely based on the method of adoption. Almost all the different forms of adoptions have costs related to home study, documentation, adoption agency fees, consultant fees, attorney fees, travel expenses, birth family expenses, foster care costs, early childhood medical costs, and relocation costs.

Public foster care adoptions frequently incur zero costs, though the U.S. average is $2,622 according to a 2015 survey done by Adoptive Families Magazine. Independently-arranged adoptions, orchestrated by a private attorney, can vary greatly in costs. The arrangements are generally setup between prospective adopters and an expecting mother. While some independent adoption arrangements may stay low cost due to nature of the agreement, costs still average $31,890. Independent-arranged adoptions can defer costs by staying in-state, sharing prenatal and child birth medical costs with the birth parents, finding a birth parent by word-of-mouth or by offer to avoid "shopping" for an adoption-willing parent. Private adoption agencies are the most expensive option, with an average cost of $42,337. Out-of-state adoptions can drastically increase adoption costs due to complex legal challenges and travels costs. Costs vary between states due to differing regulations and fees that can cause additional expenses. Medical costs were also frequently cited as an unexpected expense for both the birth mothers and the children. "False starts," when a mother decides not to give up their baby after it is born, can cost up to $2,500 each time.[30]

International Adoption Costs

International adoptions can vary in cost, depending on the country, and average between $30,000 and $50,000 dollar. In some countries, costs can be equivalent to domestic adoption. According to Adoptive Families Magazine, Ethiopia to U.S. adoptions in 2015 averaged $30,633, while South Korea to U.S. adoptions averaged $40,000 to $50,000. Disparities in country's adoption costs can be attributed by the differences in their regulation and requirements. Both Ethiopia and South Korea require two trips by prospective adopters, which increases overall costs. South Korea's advanced pre-adoption care and medical system costs can also increase costs passed down to adoptive parents.[30] Due to the potential of challenging political and cultural climates of adoption origin countries, undisclosed costs such as "required donations," facilitating or origin country agency fees, and other extrajudicial pay-offs to the children's guardians or origin country.[32]

Physical Characteristics as a Cost Factor

The physical characteristics of children being considered for adoption; such as race, age, and physical or developmental disability; can cause a 74% variation in adoption costs. Adopting parents may have a desire for specific characteristics in their adoptive child, for which they are willing to pay extra costs to obtain. In international adoptions, children with brown skin color cost $8,200 less to adopt, and dark skin color $14,700 less to adopt, compared to Caucasian children. In domestic adoptions, adoptions cost $600 less per every additional year of age. Additionally, African American children cost $4,400 less than their Caucasian counterparts to adopt. Children with physical disabilities cost $4,000 less.[33]

Subsidies and Tax Credits

Adopters can claim most expenses through the adoption tax credit. For foster system adoptions, the adoption tax credit may cover the entire cost of adoption. Foster children may also qualify for monthly government stipends, Medicaid health insurance, and even college tuition.[30]

Search and reunion

Many adopted children who were separated from their birth parents by adoption have a desire to reunite, and most would like family medical history information and access to any documents where they are mentioned. Often, birth parents who placed their infants want to reunite as well. In states which practice or have practiced confidential adoption, this has led to the creation of adoption reunion registries, and efforts to establish the right of adoptees to access their sealed records (for example, the American Adoption Congress, Concerned United Birthparents, and Bastard Nation). Others join search and support groups, most of which are non-profit, or some hire investigative companies to locate birth families and adopted children.

International adoption

Prospective American adoptive parents may use international adoption (also called intercountry adoption) to adopt a child from another country. American citizens, including American citizens who have emigrated from countries they wish to adopt from, represent the majority of international adoptive parents, followed by Europeans and those from other developed nations such as Australia. The laws of different countries vary in their willingness to allow international adoptions. Some countries, such as China, Korea and Vietnam, have very well established rules and procedures for foreign adopters to follow, while others, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for example, expressly forbid it. International adoptions by Americans became much more common after the Korean War when American servicemen fathered interracial children with Korean women. China is the leading country for international adoptions by Americans.

The U.S. Department of State has designated two accrediting entities for organizations providing inter-country adoption services in the United States that work with sending countries that have ratified the Hague Adoption Convention, which specifies by international treaty requirements for adoption between countries that have ratified the treaty. They are the Council on Accreditation and the Colorado Department of Health and Human Services. [1] The U.S. Department of State maintains a list of all accredited international adoption providers.

International adoptions in the United States by country of birth 1999 − 2014
Country Female Male Total
China 64,903 8,769 73,672
Russia 22,891 23,222 46,113
Guatemala 15,725 14,065 29,790
South Korea 7,936 11,803 19,740
Ethiopia 7,461 7,339 14,800
Ukraine 5,070 5,173 10,243
Kazakhstan 3,475 2,946 6,421
Vietnam 3,321 2,256 5,578
India 3,818 1,575 5,393
Colombia 2,238 1,855 4,093
Other countries 21,435 18,854 40,289
Total 158,271 97,858 256,132

Source: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs[34]


There are also individuals who act on their own and attempt to match waiting children, both domestically and abroad, with prospective parents, and in foreign countries provide additional services such as translation and local transport. They are commonly referred to as facilitators. Since in many jurisdictions their legal status is uncertain (and in some U.S. states they are banned outright), they operate in a legal gray area.

Where the law does not specifically allow them to, all they can do is make an introduction, leaving the details of the placement to those legally qualified to do so. But in practice, their role as gatekeepers can give them a great deal of power to direct a particular child to a particular client, or not, and some have been accused of using this power to defraud prospective adoptive parents.

Related legislation

The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (H.R. 4980; 113th Congress) passed the United States House of Representatives on July 23, 2014.[35] It is a bill that would address federal adoption incentives and would amend the Social Security Act (SSA) to require the state plan for foster care and adoption assistance to demonstrate that the state agency has developed policies and procedures for identifying, documenting in agency records, and determining appropriate services with respect to, any child or youth over whom the state agency has responsibility for placement, care, or supervision who the state has reasonable cause to believe is, or is at risk of being, a victim of sex trafficking or a severe form of trafficking in persons.[36][37] The bill H.R. 4980 passed the Senate on September 9, 2014, and President Obama signed it into law on September 29.[38]

See also


  1. ^ Adopting in America: How To Adopt Within One Year, by Randall Hicks, WordSlinger Press 2005
  2. ^ "Agency Adoption | Agency Adoption Information | Types of Adoption Agencies".
  3. ^ ADOPTION: The Essential Guide to Adopting Quickly and Safely, by Randall Hicks, Perigee Press 2007
  4. ^ "Adopt US Kids". Adoption Exchange Association. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  5. ^ "Adoption Assistance". 2017-01-19.
  6. ^ Independent adoptions
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Adoption from Foster Care". Adoption Exchange Assoc / Children's Bureau. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  10. ^ "Who We Are". Adoption Exchange Association. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-10-23. Retrieved 2005-12-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Core Issues in Adoption - Child Welfare Information Gateway".
  13. ^ H. Fogg-Davis (2002). The Ethics of Transracial Adoption
  14. ^ Simon & Roorda (2000).
  15. ^ Shin, Oparah, & Trenka (2006)
  16. ^ Source: Robert H. Bremner, Children and Youth in America: A Documentary History, Vol. 3, Parts 1-4 (Harvard University Press, 1974):777-780.
  17. ^ Foster care
  18. ^ a b c d Overcoming Adoption’s Racial Barriers by Lynette Clemets and Ron Nixon, The New York Times, August 17, 2006
  19. ^ "Hoard, D. (1998) "Struggle for Identity: Issues in Transracial Adoption"
  20. ^ Bertelsen, Phil. Outside Looking In: Transracial Adoption in America
  21. ^ John. J/ Black Baby, White Hands: A View from the Crib
  22. ^ [John Raible Online], Harlow's Monkey, Twice the Rice
  23. ^ Shin, Oparah, and Trenka (eds.) Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption. Boston: South End Press.
  24. ^ Simon, R. & Roorda, R. In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories.
  25. ^ TRIADOPTION Archives
  26. ^ Adoption Books Archived May 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Siino, Jackie (11 July 2014). "5 Questions about Adoption Contact Agreements". Archived from the original on 2014-08-10. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  28. ^ State laws
  29. ^ Grant, Amanda (2 August 2013). "Why You Should Consider Open Adoption". Adoptimist. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  30. ^ a b c d "How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Child? Financial and Timing Report". Adoptive Families. 2017-02-21. Retrieved 2018-10-04.
  31. ^ Hansen, Mary Eschelbach (September 2005). "The Economics of Adoption of Children from Foster Care" (PDF).
  32. ^ Shura, Robin; Rochford, Elle; Gran, Brian K (2016-06-13). "Children for sale? The blurred boundary between intercountry adoption and sale of children in the United States". International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy. 36 (5/6): 319–334. doi:10.1108/ijssp-03-2015-0034. ISSN 0144-333X.
  33. ^ Skidmore, Mark; Anderson, Gary; Eiswerth, Mark (2014-11-12). "The Child Adoption Marketplace". Public Finance Review. 44 (2): 163–196. CiteSeerX doi:10.1177/1091142114547412. ISSN 1091-1421.
  34. ^ "Adoption Statistics".
  35. ^ "H.R. 4980 - All Actions". United States Congress. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  36. ^ "H.R. 4980 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  37. ^ Kelly, John. "House, Senate Committees Make Deal on Adoption Incentives". The Donaldson Adoption Institute. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  38. ^ "PREVENTING SEX TRAFFICKING AND STRENGTHENING FAMILIES ACT OF 2014". October 6, 2016. Retrieved January 2, 2018.

External links

AM stereo

AM stereo is a term given to a series of mutually incompatible techniques for radio broadcasting stereo audio in the AM band in a manner that is compatible with standard AM receivers. There are two main classes of systems: independent sideband (ISB) systems, promoted principally by American broadcast engineer Leonard R. Kahn; and quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) multiplexing systems (conceptually closer to FM stereo).

Initially adopted by many commercial AM broadcasters in the mid to late 1980s, AM stereo broadcasting soon began to decline due to a lack of receivers (most "AM/FM stereo" radios only receive in stereo on FM), a growing exodus of music broadcasters to FM, concentration of ownership of the few remaining stations in the hands of large corporations and the removal of music from AM stations in favour of news/talk or sports broadcasting. By 2001, most of the former AM stereo broadcasters were no longer stereo or had left the AM band entirely.

Adoption in California

More adoptions occur in California each year than any other state (followed closely by New York). There is domestic adoption (adopting a non-relative child from within the United States), international adoption (adopting a non-relative child from another country), step parent adoption (adopting a child who is the legal child of one's spouse) and adult adoption (the adoption of an adult from within the United States).

Adoption in Connecticut

Adoption in Connecticut means "the establishment by court order of the legal relationship of parent and child." Adoption is provided for in Title 45a of the Connecticut General Statutes. The provisions of this title, with a few exceptions are to be "liberally construed in the best interests of any child for whom a petition [for adoption] has been filed under said sections." Fundamentally, adoption is a two-step process: (1) an agreement to give and receive the child in adoption and (2) approval of said agreement by the probate court.

Adoption law

Adoption law is the generic area of legal theory, policy making, legal practice and legal studies relating to law on adoption.

Adoption proceedings of Emma Rose

The adoption proceedings of Emma Rose concerned an application for the adoption of a seven-year-old Georgia girl, Emma Rose, by Elizabeth Hadaway, a lesbian prospective mother.

Judge John Lee Parrott, a judge in Wilkinson County, Georgia, ruled against the adoption and ordered Emma returned to her biological mother, citing reasons rooted in the fact that the prospective adoptive mother, Elizabeth Hadaway, was a lesbian. Parrott then found Hadaway in contempt of court when Hadaway retained custody of the girl involved. After Emma was moved into foster care, Parrott refused to abide a court order from Bibb County, Georgia, restoring custody of Emma to Hadaway. Contributing to the case's notoriety were the fact that Hadaway had had legal custody of Emma without incident for several months prior to the adoption hearing over which Parrott presided, and the fact that Deborah Schultz, the girl's biological mother, refused to take custody of Emma, having been fully supportive both of Hadaway's initial custody of Emma and of the attempt to make the adoption permanent.

Arkansas Act 1

Arkansas Proposed Initiative Act No. 1 (2008) is an initiated state statute that was approved on November 4, 2008 election in Arkansas. This measure makes it illegal for any individuals cohabiting outside of a valid marriage to adopt or provide foster care to minors. While the measure was proposed primarily to prohibit same-sex couples from being adoptive or foster parents, this measure also applies to all otherwise qualified couples who are not legally married.On December 30, 2008, the ACLU filed suit in state court on behalf of 29 adults and children, challenging Act 1 as unconstitutional.On April 16, 2010, the law was overturned by Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza in the case Arkansas Department of Human Services v. Cole. The ruling was upheld unanimously by the Arkansas Supreme Court on April 7, 2011.

Arkansas Department of Human Services v. Cole

Arkansas Department of Human Services v. Cole is a case decided by the Arkansas Supreme Court concerning the adoption rights of unmarried couples. On April 7, 2011, the Arkansas Supreme Court unanimously struck down Arkansas Act 1, passed by voters two and a half years earlier.


Chisanbop or chisenbop (from Korean chi (ji) finger + sanpŏp (sanbeop) calculation 지산법/指算法) is an abacus-like finger counting method used to perform basic mathematical operations. According to The Complete Book of Chisanbop by Hang Young Pai, chisanbop was created in the 1940s in Korea by Sung Jin Pai and revised by his son Hang Young Pai. He then brought the system to the United States c. 1977. With this method it is possible to display all numbers from 0 to 99 with two hands.

Clean climbing

Clean climbing is rock climbing techniques and equipment which climbers use in order to avoid damage to the rock. These techniques date at least in part from the 1920s and earlier in England, but the term itself may have emerged in about 1970 during the widespread and rapid adoption in the United States and Canada of nuts (also called chocks), and the very similar but often larger hexes, in preference to pitons, which damage rock and are more difficult and time-consuming to install. Pitons were thus eliminated in North America as a primary means of climbing protection in a period of less than three years.

Due to major improvements in equipment and technique, the term clean climbing has come to occupy a far less central, and somewhat different, position in discussions of climbing technology, compared with that of the brief and formative period when it emerged four decades ago.


Hānai is a term used in the Hawaiian culture that refers to the informal adoption of one person by another. It can be used as an adjective, such as "hānai child", or as a verb "to hānai" someone into the family.

In the Hawaiian culture, hānai has historically been a practice of one family hānai-ing their child into another family. It has made tracing genealogical roots somewhat more complicated.When Winona Beamer spoke about the issue of hānai and its relevance to admission at Kamehameha Schools, she had first-hand knowledge of the practice in her immediate family. Kaliko Beamer-Trapp was born in England, but emigrated to the United States with his biological mother. When Beamer decided to hānai Kaliko into her family, it was with a special hānai ceremony.Other Polynesian cultures, such as the Tahitians and the Māori, have similar practices of adoptions.

Identical Strangers

Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited is a 2007 memoir written by identical twins Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein and published by Random House. The authors were separated as infants, in part, to participate in a "nature versus nurture" twin study. They were adopted by separate families who were unaware that each girl had a sister. Soon after the twins reunited for the first time in 2004 at the age of 35, they began writing the book. Of the 13 or more children involved in the study, three sets of twins and one set of triplets have discovered one another. One or two sets of twins may still not know they have an identical twin.

Interethnic Placement Act

The Interethnic Placement Act, also known as IEPA or the Interethnic Placement Provisions (Pub. L. 104-188, Enacted August 20, 1996), was enacted as title I, subtitle H, section 1808, Removal of Barriers to Interethnic Adoption, as part of the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 in the United States. Its amendments strengthened and clarified the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994 (also known as MEPA).IEPA eliminated some unclear language in MEPA about cultural considerations in the foster care and adoption processes. IEPA's primary purpose was to eliminate racial discrimination during federally funded foster care and adoption placements so that children will not be delayed nor denied placement based on their race, color, or national origin. This protection against discrimination also extends to foster and adoptive parents. IEPA established financial penalties for states that do not comply with these provisions. IEPA also reiterated MEPA's requirement that agencies need to recruit more racially diverse foster and adoptive parents in order to reflect the diverse children in need of placements.IEPA's provisions do not apply to children protected under the Indian Child Welfare Act.

International Soundex Reunion Registry

The International Soundex Reunion Registry, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax exempt, humanitarian organization founded in 1975 by Emma May Vilardi. ISRR is a free mutual consent adoption reunion registry for persons desiring a reunion with next-of-kin. This agency serves the needs of family members who have been separated from each other by adoption, divorce, foster care, abandonment, or other means.

The registries filing system was based originally on Soundex Code which is a phonetic way of coding giving numeric value to consonants and ignores vowels, except as a first letter. This system allows for matching despite some differences in spelling. It was a perfect foundation for a situation where often people did not know exact spelling.

The founder, Emma May Vilardi, was a remarkable woman of extraordinary vision and courage who undertook this important, humane task of providing a safe and secure way for persons seeking contact to make themselves available to each other. This registry remains her legacy to the adoption community and the hundreds of thousands served. "It was not until Emma began looking for the reasons behind the many illnesses that she had suffered that she learned that ancestors and genetics were the key to understanding her health problems. Daring a probate judge to unseal an adoption record, she quickly learned that her ancestors had succumbed to the same diseases."The ISRR Executive Board of Trustees is responsible for ensuring the operation of the registry for future generations. The registry motto is, "United today for the reunions of tomorrow." For many it remains a place of hope when they feel all other resources have been exhausted, for others it was a quick and easy step that led them to connect with family members they longed to know.

Now one of many existing adoption reunion registries, Soundex is the oldest and largest of its kind. It served as a model for many state registries, for Senator Carl Levin's U.S. Senate Bill's in the 1980s trying to establish a national adoption registry, and into the 1990s and for the abundance of online registries established to help adoptees and birth family member find each other.

The adoption reform movement groups supported ISRR and recommended their members register. Most state registries, agencies and courts also refer directly to ISRR as an option for those seeking reunification with family. There are many articles and references archived in newsletters, clippings and other resources. Registration at ISRR is free because of the donations made by registrants, and the time given by volunteers.

Dear Abby referred to ISRR many times over the years. Each time registrations would arrive by the thousands resulting in many matches. One story is of an adoptee who registered 20 years to the day of when his birthmother's registration arrived. Both had read the same Dear Abby article. The adoptee had carried it in his wallet for twenty years.There are around 225,000 active registrations, at any given time. ISRR was paper based until 2003, when the volunteers began an imaging project that took five years to complete. Now all forms are digitized.

LGBT adoption in the United States

Prior to several rulings by the Supreme Court of the United States, adoption laws varied widely by state. Some states granted full adoption rights to same-sex couples, while others banned it entirely or only allowed the partner in a same-sex relationship to adopt the biological child of the other partner. On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court struck down all bans on same-sex marriage in the United States. On March 31, 2016, a Federal District Court struck down Mississippi's ban on same-sex couples from adoption. On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court reversed an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling and ordered all states to treat same-sex couples equally to opposite-sex couples in the issuance of birth certificates. These court rulings have made adoption by same-sex couples legal in all 50 states.

National Adoption Day

On National Adoption Day courts and communities in the United States come together to finalize thousands of adoptions of children from foster care. More than 300 events are held each year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving in November, in all 50 US states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to finalize the adoptions of children in foster care. In total, more than 40,000 children have been adopted from foster care on National Adoption Day.

Preacher's Sons

Preacher's Sons is a 2008 American documentary film, by C. Roebuck Reed and Mark Nealey. It follows the lives of a Unitarian Universalist minister, his husband, and the five sons they adopted from the California foster care system. The family is seen dealing with issues related to the fathers' homosexuality and the mixed-race (African American and Latino children with Caucasian parents) composition of the family, as well as the disturbed backgrounds of the children before their adoptions. The introductory segment has been aired on the public television program, In the Life. The California Council for the Humanities supported the film.

The Girls Who Went Away

The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade is a 2006 book by Ann Fessler which describes and recounts the experiences of women in the United States who relinquished babies for adoption between 1950 and the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

The book examines the pressures placed on the birth mother by family, adoption agencies, and society at large to give up the child for adoption, and the long-term psychological consequences for this event on her. It presents the birthmothers' often harsh accounts of life in the Florence Crittenton Homes.

Finally, the book recounts reunion stories between mothers and adopted children and discusses the emotional effects of reunion for birth mothers.

In 2007, the book was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Three Identical Strangers

Three Identical Strangers is a 2018 documentary film directed by Tim Wardle and starring Edward Galland, David Kellman and Robert Shafran. It examines a set of American triplets, born in 1961 and adopted as six-month-old infants by separate families, unaware that each child had brothers. The separations were done as part of an undisclosed scientific "nature versus nurture" twin study, to track the development of genetically identical siblings raised in differing circumstances. Combining archival footage, re-enacted scenes, and present-day interviews, the documentary reveals how the brothers discovered one another at age 19 and thereafter sought to understand the circumstances of their separation.The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Storytelling. The film was a nominee in the Best Documentary category at the 72nd British Academy Film Awards. It was also on the shortlist of 15 films considered for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, out of 166 candidates.

V.L. v. E.L.

V.L. v. E.L., 577 U.S. ___ (2016), is a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States concerning the adoption rights of same-sex couples. In 2007, a Georgia Superior Court granted adoption rights to V.L., the partner of E.L., the woman who gave birth to their three children. However, after moving back to Alabama, the couple split up. E.L. tried to block V.L. from seeing the children, but V.L. filed a lawsuit seeking visitation and other parental rights. On September 18, 2015, the Supreme Court of Alabama ruled that the state did not have to recognize the adoption judgment, saying that the Georgia court misapplied its own state law. The court voided the recognition of the adoption judgment in Alabama. V.L. petitioned the United States Supreme Court to stay the ruling during her appeal and allow her to see her children. On December 14, 2015, the Supreme Court stayed the ruling pending their action on a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by V.L. On March 7, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States reversed the decision of the Alabama Supreme Court by per curiam summary disposition.

Adoption by country
Foster care by country
Adoption in North America
Sovereign states
Dependencies and
other territories

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