Adoption Adventures

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Orienting Ourselves

on July 2, 2013

We attended an orientation with our new adoption agency several weeks ago, and our experience there versus those through the foster care program couldn’t have been more different. Even though domestic infant adoption and foster care adoption are similar legally, they’re certainly not in other ways. First off, the other orientation attendees were closer to our age than those in our foster care class. They typically didn’t have children already and seemed much newer to the idea than folks we’ve met in the past. I think the most striking difference was in how our potential for adopting was presented. Throughout our foster adoption journey, it seemed like when adoption (rather than just temporary foster care) was spoken about at all, it was phrased as something that may happen despite all of the enormous challenges of the foster care system. During the recent orientation, the agency representative presented adoption as something that will happen–although it may take a while.

One of the more unsettling "online dating" photos I could find online

One of the more unsettling “online dating” photos I could find online

The reasons for the differences are pretty clear. One is a private agency in the business of marketing would-be parents to would-be birthmothers and providing services to make sure those connections go smoothly. The other is a government agency with the overarching goal of reuniting children with their birth families, and–in the rare circumstances that reunification isn’t possible–they try to find suitable adoptive homes for kids. The foster care system has so many regulations and so little staff and funding that it can’t afford to be nimble or make the kinds of changes that smaller, private agencies can in order to succeed. I talked with someone working within the system recently who wondered why the type of technology used in online dating can’t also be used to match up kids in foster care who are available for adoption with suitable families. Maybe there’s potential for a renegade, family-creating match.com?


3 Responses to “Orienting Ourselves”

  1. john says:

    that photo is the most disturbing thing i’ve seen in a while. “reach out and touch someone”. yikes!

    good luck!

  2. Scott says:

    I always try to avoid commenting on blog posts because internet commenters are the worst but I’ve had a couple beers and am angry at the NC GOP and so I do apologize. And knowing you crazy kids as I do, I’m sure this was tongue-in-cheek but I feel compelled to comment on it anyway:

    I talked with someone working within the system recently who wondered why the type of technology used in online dating can’t also be used to match up kids in foster care who are available for adoption with suitable families. Maybe there’s potential for a renegade, family-creating match.com?

    Technically, that wouldn’t be a hard problem. However:

    1. All parties with anything at stake in (reputable) online dating sites are adults, and actively acknowledge and accept the risks involved with using those sites. With a hypothetical adoption-oriented match.com, the people with the most at stake (the kids) wouldn’t have any say in the matter.

    2. The consequences of potential abuse of the site would be horrific, and all of civil society regardless of political bent recognizes human trafficking as a Very Bad Thing™. Whether the site itself is vulnerable to abuse in a technical sense, or just facilitated abuse via outside channels/offline transactions (e.g., Craigslist and prostitution) is inconsequential. The system would require an insane amount of oversight, to the point that the benefits of automation would probably outweigh the costs of creation and administration.

    Anyway, thank you for publicly sharing your experiences and insights into a subject that I’m pretty clueless about, and good luck navigating this imperfect system. Some lucky kid is going to get some tenaciously involved parents 🙂

    • Rebecca says:

      Great points, Scott! I should’ve been clearer: I think she meant that such a system could be useful for making internal match suggestions for social workers, not actual placements of children with families. As it stands, it’s up to humans to look through the files of families and children one by one, which is daunting when you consider the number of children who are legally free for adoption.

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