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Are Babies that Are Given Up for Adoption Always Adopted?

The adoption process used to look very different. You’ve seen it in TV shows and movies – a desperate young mother wraps her baby in a blanket and places him or her on the doorstep of an orphanage, hoping that a better life is ahead.

This media depiction of adoption used to have some truth to it. The process was associated with secrecy and shame, and birth mothers had very little control. Many were left wondering, “Are babies that are given up for adoption always adopted?”

Thankfully, adoption is different today. Back then, many birth mothers were left to wonder what happened to their babies; today, birth mothers are given control of the adoption process. If you’re considering adoption and wondering how many kids given up for adoption actually get adopted, or how many children go without getting adopted, a better understanding of how adoption works today will ease these fears.

The Adoption Process Today

When a prospective birth mother chooses adoption for her baby, she will place her baby through a process called domestic infant adoption. The process is based around a mother’s needs, and everything is set up to make sure she feels respected. Unlike those TV stories about leaving a baby on a doorstep, a prospective birth mother in a modern-day domestic infant adoption gets to choose the specific family she thinks is best for her baby. She gets to know that family, and can even maintain contact after the adoption with the adoptive family and her baby.

There are always more adoptive families than there are prospective birth mothers. In domestic infant adoption, the answer to, “How many children go without getting adopted?” is zero.

The adoption process, while unique for each person, follows these basic steps:

  • Step 1: Work with an adoption specialist to create an adoption plan. This plan sets the guidelines for the adoption process, and an adoption specialist will guide a prospective birth mother through each step.
  • Step 2: Choose the adoptive family who is best for the baby. This is the expectant mother’s choice. Being able to choose the family after looking at several adoption profiles creates a sense of confidence that the baby will be adopted by a loving family. Putting a child up for adoption but nobody would want them isn’t a possibility in domestic infant adoption.
  • Step 3: Get to know the family pre-placement. Most domestic infant adoptions are at least semi-open, which means the adoptive family and prospective birth mother can get to know each other through communication like emails, phone calls or video calls.
  • Step 4: The hospital stay and placement with the adoptive family. After an expectant mother gives birth, she can officially consent to the adoption. This is when the baby is placed with the adoptive parents.
  • Step 5: Maintaining contact post-placement. Thanks to open adoption, there can be a continued relationship after placement has occurred. Not only can a birth mother be sure the baby will be adopted, but she can also stay connected as the child grows and thrives in their adoptive family.

Adoption from Foster Care

When you’re asking how many children go without getting adopted, you are most likely thinking of the foster care system. This process is entirely separate from the domestic infant adoption process, which is a common misunderstanding. If an expectant mother chooses to place her baby for adoption, her baby does not go into foster care with the hope of finding an adoptive family. When an expectant mother chooses adoption, she picks the family for her baby, and the state never takes custody or is involved in caring for the child.

Children are placed in foster care for a variety of different reasons, and it is usually ordered by a judge due to something that constitutes an unsafe environment for a child. This could be due to living situation, drug use, neglect or many other occurrences. For most children in foster care, the goal is called “reunification,” which is the process of returning to the care of their biological parents. For example, a child could be placed into a foster home for six months while their mother or father goes through rehabilitation, and then they will be reunited afterwards.

There are, however, many children in foster care whose biological parents’ rights have been terminated. These children become eligible for foster care adoption. In this case, if you were to ask how many children go without getting adopted, the answer may surprise you. Although it is difficult to quantity, roughly 20,000 children “age out” of foster care each year, meaning they are now legally adults without ever finding a family through adoption. This is one of the reasons there is such a large need for foster parents across the country.

If you are an expectant considering placing your baby for adoption, your baby will not enter the foster care system, and they will not go un-adopted. There are thousands of hopeful adoptive parents going through the domestic infant adoption process who would be overjoyed to adopt your baby. And if you are a hopeful parent surprised by the number of children who age out of foster care, you could look into foster care adoption as a way to meet the needs of those children.