Adoptions are on the rise in the U.S. as financial difficulties fall on more single women and families trying to survive without the support of a partner. The loss of jobs, along with cuts to free services to low income families are also affecting requests for adoption help.
“Adoption doesn’t take time off during financially challenging times,” states Mardie Caldwell, Founder of Lifetime Adoption Center located on Cattle Drive in the Penn Valley area of Northern California. In a recent interview, Caldwell shared that “the first day the stock market took a big downturn in October, our adoption hotline lit up and have not stopped ringing since. Women facing uncertain times are looking at options for unplanned pregnancies and for children they feel they can’t care for. Others are just looking at their dire situations and want a better life for their children. Not only have we seen a tremendous increase in newborns placed for adoption, but parents of toddlers and some older children are seeking out adoption as well.”
There are no longer any orphanages in the U.S. and women today have more options other than abandoning their children or turning them over to the state for foster care. Caldwell states that foster care was never meant to be a permanent home for children. Open adoption is a resource that makes it a win-win situation for all involved in the adoption triad: birth parents, the child, and adoptive parents.
Referrals come in from clinics, doctors, and Internet sites that refer birthmothers to Lifetime for adoption services. Caldwell has been assisting in domestic adoptions since 1986 and is an adoptive mother herself.
Recently, a 24 year old mother from Northern California called in on one of Caldwell’s adoption hotlines, inquiring about the steps to adoption. She wanted to find adoptive parents for her two year old son and six month old daughter after their father abandoned them eight months ago. Losing her job was the final blow.
It isn’t that the women calling about adoption don’t love their children. In fact, it is just the opposite. They love their children deeply and don’t want to see them suffer in poverty. Birth mothers call Lifetime Adoption’s hotlines to ask questions, find out what their options are, seek support, request counseling, identify legal referrals, and just to get the help they need and want. These calls come in from across the country and even from here in Nevada County.
With most everyone facing some of the effects of the financial crisis, grandparents are even joining in the selection of adoptive parents, gaining confidence that they can stay in contact with the children.
“With state and county social services programs being cut throughout the country,” Caldwell said, “we are working hard to pick up the slack. We are now sending out more than just adoption material to hurting families and pregnant women in need. We have a modest food closet that allows us to send non-perishable items, toiletries, clothes, household items and even holiday gifts. The requests have increased, with food closets in many towns facing shortages. When we have experienced similar mini-recessions in the past, we have always seen increases in calls and adoptions. But this time, we are experiencing a much greater volume of calls each week. We are now serving double the number of clients than we were just three months ago. Currently we are actively providing services for over 320 women, often including their children.”
Caldwell has been on the road promoting National Adoption Awareness month this November. She released a new book in November, So I Was Thinking About Adoption, a guide for women facing an unplanned pregnancy or considering adoption for an older child. “The response has been tremendous for the book! Many places, from family planning clinics to churches are ordering the little books to help women they come in contact with.”
The challenge now is to continue helping women, knowing that adoption may not be the right answer to all inquires. “Morally we need to help them at their place of need and answer their questions as they determine their options at this difficult time,” says Caldwell.
If interested in learning more about adoption, the 24 hour adoption answer line is 1-800-9-ADOPT-4