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As Birth Rates Decline Nationwide, Families Turn Toward Foster Care to Grow Their Families

When all the paperwork is turned in and the home study is complete, those wanting to adopt an infant move into what could arguably be the hardest part of the adoption process: the waiting period. All the list-making and box checking comes to a halt and there’s nothing left to do but wait. Unfortunately, in recent years, many individuals and couples in the adoption process have watched their wait time grow from months to years.


Birth rates in the U.S. have been declining for years and the COVID-19 crisis is only making the problem worse, despite early predictions that more families staying home together might mean more babies. What was thought to become a baby boom, has now been coined a “baby bust”. The federal government recently reported the birthrate declined for the sixth straight year in 2020. Teenagers have had the sharpest decline, down by 63 percent since 2007, the data showed.


In the New York Times article, The U.S. Birthrate Has Dropped Again. The Pandemic May Be Accelerating the Decline (May 5, 2021), Sabrina Tavernise noted, “Births tend to dip after economic crises, as women put off having babies because of uncertainty with jobs and income…However, the recent decline, which began after the Great Recession in 2008, has continued, despite improvements in the economy.” Voluntary adoptions account for .5-1.0% of births, and with the birth rates continuing to decrease, the percentage of voluntary adoption has naturally decreased as well.


With fewer infant adoption placements and longer periods of waiting, some families have begun to consider adopting through the foster care system. In 2020, there were approximately 424,000 youth in the foster care system nationwide. While the average age of a child in foster care is between 6-9 years old, many older youth age out of the program before ever finding a forever family, leaving them to fend for themselves.


If you’ve ever considered adopting through the foster care system, today might be the day to take that next step. While adopting through the MO or IL foster care system will most likely be a very different experience than adopting an infant through a private agency like Christian Family Service, Inc., we believe there is just as much beauty to be found.

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