Crystal Schachter of Woodstock adopted her son four years ago, when he was a newborn. The adoption, which she calls “an adventure,” changed her family’s priorities and the way they saw the world.
“Sometimes uncertain, sometimes complicated, sometimes terrifying, sometimes thrilling, sometimes exhausting, but ultimately worth all of it,” she says.
Since the designation of November as National Adoption Awareness Month in 1995, various resources have been created to help families navigate the legal, practical, and emotional aspects of adoption.
According to Laurie Slavin, executive director of the Woodstock-based Hudson Valley Adoption Services, adoptive families benefit from access to information and expectant families are assisted in finding adoptive parents.
“New York adoption law offers several paths to adoption, and families need information about choosing the appropriate path for them,” Slavin says. Agencies such as Slavin’s help ease the way, with parent training, legal advice, and navigation through the adoption process.
Between 50,000 and 53,500 U.S. children were adopted out of foster care each year from 2006–2015, according to the Children’s Bureau, part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
International adoptions, however, have plummeted: 22,989 in 2004 to 5,370 in 2016, reported by the U.S. Department of State.
Still, some adoption trends are promising.
“The biggest trend in adoption today is the biological and adoptive parents coming together as a combined resource for the child,” says Slavin. “The big information gaps and mysteries of identity experienced by adoptees in the past are less likely to happen in today’s adoptions.”
Free support services for adoptive, foster and kinship (children cared for by relatives) families can provide a better understanding of adoption’s role in family dynamics.
“There’s a shift in how we deal with issues that come up afterward,” from toddlers to teens, says Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy, outreach and advocacy coordinator at the New Paltz-based Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition of New York. “New York is definitely pushing for adopting older children, and it seems like people are actually responding to that. I would love for that to be a trend.”
Adoption can be complicated, says Slavin, but perseverance is its own virtue.
“Success in adopting a child requires diligence and persistence,” she says, “as well as flexibility and resilience — the same qualities required for successful parenting.”