The COVID-19 pandemic has affected American life in almost every way. The pandemic, and the response to it, have fundamentally altered the way the United States functions from a personal, state, and federal level. Lockdowns and restrictions, as well as the fear and anxiety around catching or spreading the virus, have meant that weddings, funerals, legal proceedings, and other occasions have had to be cancelled or postponed. The minutiae of everything has changed. This includes adoption.
The Adoption Process and COVID-19
Adoption can be a long and gruelling process, emotionally and physically. Often a lengthy process, with long periods of agonizing waiting for both the hopeful parents to be and the child looking for a loving home. Generally, the process of adoption begins with choosing the type of adoption that is right for the couple. Once the research and costs have been decided, and an adoption professional decided upon, a home study must be completed. This is usually completed by a social worker and can take time. During COVID-19, it has taken a lot longer, or has even shifted to the virtual sphere. One of the final steps is choosing and being chosen by a birth mother; again, a timely process. Understandably, a potential birth mother may want to get to know the couple that could be adopting her baby, and once again the pandemic has lengthened and disrupted things. Legal representation is important throughout adopting a child and choosing the right adoption lawyers can help smooth thing along. For example, ABM Family Law are a Chicago family law firm and offer support and assistance in adoption.
Pre-pandemic, there were around 110,000 adoptions per year in the U.S., according to data from the National Council for Adoption. During the early stages of the pandemic and the stay-at-home orders, the number went down significantly. Becky Fawcett, president of Helpusadopt.org, says “This global pandemic will clearly reduce the number of adoptions…between the travel ban and the personal financial crisis some families are experiencing, I can’t begin to imagine the full impact this will have.” The financial implications of the pandemic, with millions of jobs lost and incomes impacted, mean that those looking to adopt may not be able to.
The economic effects of COVID-19, as well as the inability for Americans to travel or even leave their homes, have massively affected adoption. Denise Wise-David is the program manager for Jewish Family Service’s Connecting Hearts, and claims, “We call and check in with people to see how they are doing with the process. Before COVID-19, it would take them about 6 months to complete the training, get a home study done, and become certified to become a foster parent… and about a year to a year and a half to get to adoption.”
COVID-19 Baby Boom – Easier to Adopt?
With a large percentage of the population being forced to stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the experts predicted a baby boom. However, this has not been borne out in the statistics. In 2020, the birth rate in the U.S. fell 6% in comparison to 2019. Some states have seen a drop off in mothers who want to give their baby up for adoption – reported to be around 10% in Virginia, for example. In the United Kingdom, enquiries around adoption have gone up substantially. According to Sky News, there has been up to a 65% increase in people looking to adopt. However, with more children in care despite the birth rate decrease, it is clear that the pandemic has affected adoption.