Orphanages? Not Really.
Often we get phone calls from families just starting out in their search for information about adoption, and they will ask us what children we currently have available for adoption. When we explain that we typically work with pregnant women who choose their adoptive families, sometimes they still persist with by asking but what kids do we have RIGHT NOW? (I'll admit, when I'm not having a great day I want to snarkily reply "Oh let me just go check and see what we have in the back. Oh sorry, we're fresh out, but there are a couple on backorder.") Snarkniess aside, the perception persists of babies lined up in bassinets back in a room somewhere just waiting to be picked up. This is just not reality, at least in US domestic adoption. While there are photolistings of children waiting to be adopted, these are typically children who are in the public foster care system in their state, and are in either individual foster homes or group homes – the latter of which could be considered modern day orphanages. However these group homes typically house older children and teens, not babies and toddlers. If you are looking to adopt an infant, you must be prepared to wait to be picked by a woman considering adoption for her unborn (or sometimes very recently born) child.
Along with this faulty perception comes the idea that you are "helping out" the adoption agency by taking an unwanted child off their hands. Newsflash – there are NO unwanted infants. Zero. You are in a long line of hopeful parents waiting to be chosen to adopt a baby. Sometimes this is quite startling to prospective adoptive parents. They think the agency wants to hear how altruistic they are by agreeing to take a lonely child. This is not to say there are not children who are waiting to be adopted – of course there are. There are over 100,000 children in the foster care system today, and many legally free to be adopted. But most of the children you see on the photolistings come from very difficult backgrounds, or may have emotional, physical or behavior problems, and you have to be prepared to deal with that. If you are looking to adopt an infant, we want to hear that you are looking to build your family and you need our help to do that.
photo credit: Mennonite Church USA Archives via photopin cc