Although growing numbers of children need adoption, there are more than enough families to meet the demand. The National Council for Adoption estimates that at least one million infertile couples and an additional one million fertile couples would like to adopt.1) According to the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, one-third of women (aged 18-44 years) has ever considered adopting a child, and one in seven of those has taken steps to adopt.2)
Couples who want to adopt are not looking just for healthy, Caucasian infants, despite assumptions to the contrary. The National Down's Syndrome Adoption Exchange reports a waiting list of over 100 couples who would like to adopt a child with Down's syndrome—more than enough to accommodate parents who want Down's children given up for adoption. Nor is it difficult to find families for children with spina bifida and children who are HIV positive. For example, the National Council for Adoption is identifying children who will be orphaned when their parents die of AIDS, so that appropriate plans can be made before the parents' death. The response by individuals and families willing to adopt such children has been overwhelming.
Americans are also willing to help with children from overseas, especially because of the anti-adoption bias in the United States. When the communist regime in Romania fell, ABC-TV's “20/20” reported that thousands of children were warehoused in government orphanages. Pictures showed many children with health and developmental problems. ABC received over 25,000 self-addressed, stamped envelopes from people who wanted more information, and within six months 2,000 Romanian children were adopted by Americans,3) many of whom had not considered adoption until this need became known. This suggests that the pool of parents willing to adopt could be expanded significantly.
In recent years, foreign adoptions have dropped to their lowest level in over three decades. In 2004, there were around 23,000 foreign adoptions to American parents;4) by 2014, there was a total of 6,441 foreign adoptions.5)
Despite the evident readiness and desire to adopt, many families report a lack of support or encouragement from the social services establishment. They report such things as unanswered phone calls, inadequate networking with other agencies which may have children ready for adoption, a disinclination to identify children with needs that correspond to the gifts of the family, and a general lack of support to bring couples successfully through the adoption process.6)