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Economy impacts adoption numbers

August 31, 2009 1:58 am

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Jermira, 15, one of the many children at the Children's Home Society of Virginia, was profiled in January. lo0831adoption2.jpg

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Among the youngsters awaiting adoption who have been profiled in The Free Lance-Star are (from left) Audwin, 10, Dajah, 8, Rebecca, 13, and Anthony, 15.

BY AMY FLOWERS UMBLE

With job losses and pay cuts looming, many prospective parents are struggling to come up with the money to adopt.

Some have decided to put off growing a family through adoption. Others are seeking creative ways to raise the $25,000 typically needed.

Still, adoption advocates say this is the perfect time to consider adopting foster children--a process that is usually free for adoptive parents.

A June FindLaw study reported that 6 percent of Americans have delayed adoption because of the recession.

Locally, adoption workers rely on more anecdotal evidence. At the Children's Home Society of Virginia, interested parents-to-be have backed out of adoptions recently, said director Nadine Marsh-Carter.

And the first question at orientation meetings now is, "How much will this cost?"

The agency charges based on income, so the answer varies.

At the Fredericksburg office of Bethany Christian Services, adoption workers have not seen fewer people wanting to adopt. But national Bethany offices have noticed a downturn, said Fredericksburg director Mary Beth Bova.

Locally, the Bethany office has seen more women giving children up for adoption--especially women who already have a child. The birth mothers have cited financial concerns.

Raising a child costs quite a bit--the average parents spend $200,000 per child from birth through high school.

"'Unfortunate' doesn't even begin to describe it," said Adam Pertman, director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in Boston. "It's heartbreaking to think that people could be placing their children because they lost jobs."

Pertman said no studies confirm a drop in adoptions, though anecdotal evidence suggests fewer parents are signing up to adopt during the recession.

"I don't see how it could not have an impact on all sorts of family decisions," he said. "People who are wondering how to feed the mouths at the table are probably less likely to add mouths."

Even as fewer people sign up to adopt, it seems unlikely that American infants will have to wait for homes. Prospective parents hoping to adopt domestically still outnumber babies placed for adoption.

And while $25,000 seems like a lot when people are worried about keeping their jobs, there are still plenty of families who have the money.

And some are willing to try to find it.

"People are more cautious about moving forward, but they're also getting a little more creative," Bova said.

Parents coming to Bethany have tried yard sales, low-interest adoption loans and family fundraisers.

"The gift of family is too significant to miss just because of these uncertain times, because things will get better," said Marsh-Carter, the adoptive mom of two children.

Pertman also adopted two children, and said adoption is pricey but worthwhile.

"In five or 10 years, you're not going to think of the costs," Pertman said. "You're just going to look at your kid and be grateful that you have her."

Amy Flowers Umble: 540/735-1973
Email: aumble@freelancestar.com




Jason Kovacs, director of ministry for the ABBA Fund, offers these tips for raising money to adopt:

Host a raffle or online auction: Get individuals and businesses to donate goods and services.

Gather donated frequent-flier miles: If traveling to adopt, these add up to savings.

Hold a themed meal fundraiser: Host a Valentine's party, '80s night or fiesta at a community center, church or restaurant.

Set up a blog, Web site or Facebook group to journal about your adoption journey. Include a link for people to donate through PayPal.

Hold a yard sale: Have friends and family donate items to sell.

Have a baby bottle campaign: Buy bottles in bulk-- or clean used, donated bottles--and attach a flier explaining your plans. Distribute to friends, family, day care centers and businesses, and have the bottles filled with spare change.

Mail pre-birth announcements. Tell friends and family about your plans and the costs, asking them to consider helping.

Use a skill or hobby: Sell items online or through a community network.

abbafund.org

Upcoming information meetings include:

Children's Home Society of Virginia: Fredericksburg office, 2300 Fall Hill Ave., Sept. 24, 5 p.m., 540/226-0583 or mccoyt@chsva.org

Bethany Christian Services: Fredericksburg office, 1616 Stafford Ave., Oct. 13, 6:30 p.m., 540/373-5165

United Methodist Family Services: PRIDE training for foster/adoptive parents, nine-week course starts Sept. 2, 540/898-1773, ext. 13




Copyright 2014 The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company.