Monday, May 3, 2010

International Adoptions Nationally Low, Affecting Agencies in CNY

According to the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues, the number of international adoptions to the United States in 2009 compared to 2004 has decreased by approximately 9,000. In Central New York, agencies are definitely feeling the difference.

Mary Capocefalo is a social worker at Family Connections, an adoption agency in Cortland.

"Probably 10 years ago, I was personally doing about two or three a month. Now I do one every six months," she says concerning the number of cases she handles.

Capocefalo says the main reasons for the decrease is money and time.

"It's much more expensive, it's more more complex than it used to be."

The New Life Adoption Agency in Syracuse specifies in adoptions from China. Attorney for New Life, Marsha Hunt, says the cost is getting more and more expensive.

"I wanna say that probably between $25,000 and $30,000 for a family to adopt including travel when you consider all the costs."

Not only are the costs getting bigger, but the waiting period for adopted children to physically be with their adoptive parents is getting longer. Barbara Graffeo is a social worker at the New Beginnings Adoption Agency at its Florida office and says what used to have a reputation for being fast has now changed.

Marsha Hunt explains the dramatic increase in the waiting period at New Life.

"Right now for a family to actually receive a referral, some of our families are up to about four and a half years."

Capocefalo, Hunt and Graffeo all say the Hague Convention has had a big effect on adoptions.

Graffeo says the Hague sets up rules and regulations for all countries who are involved.

"The international part of it, of course, is that they're trying to do the best thing they can for the children in each country, making sure that they're 100 percent legally free for adoption before they're placed," she says. "And then making sure that the countries that they're placing those children in are following like regulations in their countries."

Graffeo says unfortunately the convention has made the process more complicated because it requires another part of government to oversee these regulations.

Tom Royal adopted one of his daughters from Ethiopia three years go. He and his wife are currently trying to adopt again, but are finding it more difficult than the first time.

"It's harder now. We both have to go and we have to go instead of me just going once, we have to go twice," he says about traveling to Ethiopia before they can legally adopt another child.

Greg Franklin is an adoption attorney in Rochester and says the decrease can affect diversity in CNY.

"The more internationally adopted kids who come into a community, the more of a melting pot you've got," he says.

The most important thing of all this, Mary Capocefalo says, is connecting children needing to be adopted with families and couples wanting children.

"I’m concerned that people who want to adopt, who are willing to spend the money, willing to raise a child, we’re not bringing those two together. There’s children without parents and there’s families that want to love children and we’re not bringing them together.”

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