If you are considering adoption or currently in the middle of the process, you might be wondering how COVID-19 has, or could, affect your ability to successfully adopt. It is safe to say that COVID-19 has increased the likelihood of delays in adoptive placements and finalizations, however it has not halted adoptions entirely. And while adoption roadblocks are present, the need for adoption has not diminished. In fact, adoptions are needed more now than ever before.
A little over 110,000 adoptions take place in the United States annually, according to the National Council For Adoption. That means around 9,000 adoptions per month. That totals 27,000 adoptions needed since the COVID-19 pandemic happened in March. Professionals in the field have expressed that the pandemic will reduce the number of adoptions. According to Becky Fawcett, President of Helpusadopt.org, “Between the travel ban and the personal financial crisis some families are experiencing, I can’t even begin to imagine the full impact this will have.”
Adoption Roadblocks & the Silver Lining
Unfortunately, the pandemic has made roadblocks for family members seeking to become foster parents. Some of these hurdles include:
- Social workers are unable to do screenings and home visits
- Travel bans
- Court closures
- Fingerprint background checks may go uncompleted
- Inability to get a physical exam by a doctor
The Impact on Recruitment Efforts
COVID-19 has also changed recruitment efforts and the way Colorado children in foster care can interact with potential families. It has been difficult for recruiters to find families for foster children without the ability to interact in person. As of writing this, some adoption cases have hosted virtual meetings while others are currently on hold.
The Silver Lining
While in-person meetings cannot happen, many children in foster care have found comfort speaking with their potential families on virtual meetings. In fact, due to the success many adoption agencies have seen with virtual meetings, these meetings will continue to take place after the pandemic ends.
Additionally, for families who recently adopted a child, the stay-at-home order has meant more family time. This additional time has helped the child(ren) adjust to their new life. It has also meant more one-on-one time, more play time, and more love and care overall for these children.
The Impact on International Adoption
Court closures have halted or stalled domestic adoptions. However, perhaps the greatest impact has been on international adoptions. Closed borders and additional restrictions have further complicated international adoptions, and many have been postponed.
Even couples whose international adoptions have continued face complications. Many parents are waiting for certain countries to re-open their borders and/or allow travelers to visit so they can unite with their child. There are still many unknown factors for parents-to-be, so the best thing to do right now is practice patience.
The Growing Need for Foster Parents & Adoption
It is during times of crisis that children can be hit the hardest. Due to their vulnerability, lack of access to resources, and displacement, foster children have always been at risk of child abuse. The onset of the coronavirus has put these children in an even more vulnerable place. With mandated stay-at-home orders, many are separated from their communities. According to adoption services, “research indicates the presence of stressful life events increases the likelihood of child abuse.”
To raise awareness about this issue, Colorado’s Governor Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) Executive Director Michelle Barnes partnered with community members, county leaders, and child advocates to launch Child Abuse Prevention Month in April 2020. The launch’s goal was to reinforce how to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect during the coronavirus pandemic.
Resources for Adoptive Parents to Stay Connected
While the process of adoption has become more difficult during COVID-19, it is not impossible. Many adoption agencies, including The Adoption Exchange, have pushed out online information and resources to families in need to keep them informed during this time.
For adoptive families looking for ways to stay connected to their child while waiting for the adoption process to finalize, there are various resources available to stay in touch. These resources include the following:
- The American Bar Association offers a list of at-home education and learning resources to foster youth so you can support your child’s learning during this time.
- Questions and answers to providing services to children with disabilities have been shared by the Department of Education here.
- iFoster is currently offering technology access to foster youth ages 13-24, which includes free, unlimited, high-speed data hotspots, headsets, and laptops so they can take online classes. For additional information on the resources available, call iFoster at 1-855-936-7837 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Children currently (or previously) in foster care who are in need of a laptop for remote learning, can email One Simple Wish at email@example.com for help.
- Students Pre-K through 12th grade can access free, educational PBS daytime programming.
- MIND Research Institute is offering no cost access to a math instructional program for students in grades K-8.
- Scholastic is offering free, online learning experiences for kids of all ages.
- Amazing Educational Resources has a comprehensive list of education companies offering free online subscriptions.
There are also state-specific resources for families. These include:
- Colorado's Department of Education has a list of resources available online to help youth learn virtually for free.
- Denver Public Schools increased their number of food distribution sites and is now offering dinner to youth under the age of 18.
Looking to Adopt? Contact Us Today!
While COVID-19 has certainly impacted the adoption process in Colorado, it has not halted it entirely. If you need assistance navigating the process of adoption during the coronavirus, our lawyers are here to support you. We have always been dedicated to helping our clients during difficult times. There are many factors out of your control during this time, so turn to a lawyer you can trust to take care of all your legal needs.