Needed for Adoption: One-Twentieth of One Percent of Adults

I spent National Adoption Awareness Month (November) trying to understand more about the workings of the South Carolina Department of Social Services.

I kept hoping there would be a great story. I anxiously awaited former foster youths to tell me, ‘Foster care made such a positive impact on my life.’ Or a caseworker to tout the efforts their county has gone to in order to serve vulnerable families. I want to hear a foster parent tell me, ‘DSS has been phenomenal. They have gone above and beyond to help these children.’

I wish that was the case.

But, as it turns out, a foster child who makes it out of this broken system and into the world as a functional adult seems to do so in spite of the system. And reality is that it is nothing short of miraculous when foster children become anything other than a frightening statistic, void of healthy family connections.

Caseworkers that genuinely seem to care about the kids move on to other jobs instead of fighting illogical policies and policy makers, too burned out to continue.

I want to blame some person or some entity for the current catastrophic state of failure that I see permeating from social services. A government system that desperately needs to be a well-run, well-oiled machine has a wrench in the gears.

The solution is simultaneously hugely complex and annoyingly simple. We, the grown-up populace, are going to have to choose to sacrifice emotional comfort. On the very simple side, it is purely a numbers game and the odds are clearly on the side of the family-less child.

Reigning in our complex emotions is hard. We don’t want to be annoyed, irritated, inconvenienced, or hurt. We have no intention of purposefully putting ourselves in positions of difficulty. And fostering or adopting can put an emotional strain on the most stable of adults.

Getting past the emotional complexity is going to have to be a choice.  At some point, if this (or any) crisis is to be solved, we must choose to put ourselves into a state of inconvenience. We must choose to lose our ego to a larger cause. We must exchange our faineant existence for others’ needs. Not because our life depends on it, but because someone else’s does.We must learn what sacrifice really means, and it isn’t giving up your soy latte on Saturday.

The simple solution is us. The functional adult members of society. The non-felonious, hard-working, responsible, human, grown-ups. We can fix this.

Population of foster youths waiting for adoption in America110,000

Population of adults in America242,542,976

Based on purely numbers, all I see is an easily fixable problem. Even if only half of the adults in our country are appropriate parents, that gives us 121,271,488. In fact, we only need about one twentieth of one percent of the adult population in America to adopt one child.

The truth is that November has ZERO meaning without us, the adults, making choices that directly, positively impact the foster youth population. Complex or simple solutions hold no importance without willing adults choosing to act. We hold the power to vote, to speak, to demand, to choose what is right, to change the life of a child.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Christy Irons
About Christy Irons 5 Articles
I am a mom of 8. (5 through foster-adopt, 2 adopted internationally, 1 homegrown) I stay at home with our tribe. I write occasionally. I LOVE adoption. It is my favorite subject.


  1. I absolutely agree that unnecessary CPS intervention has to be addressed. I have pondered that quite a lot. How do we begin? What you are looking at is adult humans making subjective judgment calls on the lives of children. Generally speaking, they will err on the side of caution simply because there is hell to pay if they don’t. The possible alternatives being abuse, neglect, death…correct? (although, breastfeeding is very obviously a RIDICULOUS reason to remove a child)

    Not sure about your “double digit” comment. We know lots of large families where the parents are the parents and the kids are just that: kids. Not in-house child-raisers. Maybe you know different people than I do. 🙂

    Also agree with your #2 point. I think from a CPS perspective, it is a money problem. They don’t have the funds to provide the manpower to supervise in-crisis families. And it also becomes a giant liability issue for them. (just like your #1 point) How do they keep kids safe in what is potentially an unsafe environment? And what happens when a child is injured (or worse) in a supervised unsafe environment?

    Have you heard of SAFE Families? It allows for voluntary, temporary placement of children by biological families with approved temporary families while vulnerable families find housing, get job training, drug treatment etc. Also allows for open communication and mentoring between families.

    Also, just wanted to say thank you for so kindly disagreeing. I think one of the first major steps in fixing the issues is maintaining an appropriate, open dialogue between disagreeing factions within the adoption world (and I am finding there are many!) Very much appreciate your words.

  2. I wrote: The second step is to provide help for families in crisis and work with the FAMILY rather than just “REMOVE” the kids. (I don’t know why that word was deleted.

    The reason I said that in some cases adoption is out of the frying pan and into the fire is that the majority of not all children from foster care come with SUBSIDIES and tax credits for those who adopt. Just as there are inadequate foster parents who do it for the money, the same is true of those who adopt children from state care. Too often these children are adopted by families who have double-digit numbers of children and support their families on subsidies. Children in placed in such families are virtually in group homes and the older children are expected to take care of the younger ones.

    Every one of these lost children deserve DNA testing and all other options to be provided fro them to locate any kin that can help, whether they are adopted or not.

  3. This is a beautifully written article that does an excellent and passionate job of describing the problem, but falls horribly short of exploring solutions.

    Adoption is a band-aid, at best. For some children it is out of the frying pan and into the fire.

    The first step is to work to prevent unnecessary CPS interventions. Many children have been placed for “slights” like being breastfed longer than a social worker thought appropriate.

    The second step is to provide help for families in crisis and work with the FAMILY rather than just snatch the kids. Often afordable day care is all theatg is needed so a mother can hold down a job and not be forced to leave her children in less than safe and ideal situations. other times anger management or drug rehab is needed and all these can be provided while families are allowed to remain SAFELY intact. These are temporary problems that do are made worse, not helped, by tearing families apart.

    Another very important step to alleviate the shame of the foster care system and improve the lives of children iis Family Finding which has a wonderful success rate in finding extended family members who are willing and able to help children in state care and exiting foster care.

Comments are closed.