Non-governmental or private agencies are licensed by the state or states in which they operate and in some cases, such as in New York State, they must be not-for-profit organizations. One of the earliest of these agencies, in the United States, was the New York City Children’s Aid Society. The founder of this agency, Rev. Charles Loring Brace, has gone down in history as the organizer of orphan trains which, during the middle of the nineteenth Century, transported orphan children from New York City to the west where the children were taken in primarily by farm families. The Children’s Aid Society still exists today and it continues to assist children through its foster care and adoption programs.
In present day society, there are dozens of these not-for profit, non-governmental agencies located around the State of New York. The Adoption STAR adoption agency is located outside Buffalo, NY and it also operates in Ohio and Florida. Adoption STAR and a number of other adoption agencies in the state do not have any ongoing governmental funding stream. Adoption STAR is supported primarily by the fees paid by the adoptive families that it works with. A smaller portion of the agency’s expenses are met through grants and fundraising from the public.
There are also many agencies that have contracts with the public foster care and adoption system. By means of these contracts, some of the children and their families in foster care in New York State are served by staff of these contracting agencies. The contracts provide the agencies with a steady source of income during a year or more. The families who adopt foster children from these agencies do so without incurring any costs and in the majority of cases they also receive adoption subsidy payments ranging approximately between $500 and $1,772 per child monthly, with these payments being made until the children reach 21 years of age. (They also receive several hundred dollars more each year as a clothing allowance for the child.)
The majority of the foster children in these homes are adopted by their foster families, in part, because New York State Codes, Rules and Regulations give priority to the foster families who have cared for these children, if the child has been in the home for 18 months or more. Consequently, foster families who are already caring for these children have the inside track on adopting them and receiving a subsidy and payment for the costs of adopting them as well.
Last year Adoption STAR placed 60 American children into adoptive homes. None of the adoption costs were borne by taxpayers, although many of the adoptive families did benefit from the Federal Adoption Tax Credit which reimburses up to approximately $13,000 of their adoption costs provided they meet the maximum income and other criteria. In the event that the child that they adopt is handicapped, the family might also be eligible to receive an adoption subsidy, but that is relatively rare. If any of the children placed by Adoption STAR had not been placed and then entered the foster care system, the total costs in payments to supervising agencies and foster care and subsidized adoption payments for that child would easily range in the hundreds of thousands before the child reached 21 years of age.
The point that I want to make is that through Adoption STAR’s domestic adoption program, there are several beneficiaries. First of all, the taxpayers and society benefit because the child being placed will not enter the foster care system and is unlikely to receive an adoption subsidy. The adoptive family benefits because they were blessed with an infant whom they can raise and be proud of. The birth family benefits because Adoption STAR allows them the final choice regarding the family who can adopt their child and also the option as to whether to remain in contact with the adoptive family as the child grows or not. Finally, the child benefits because he or she is placed with an adoptive family directly after being born in the hospital in most cases. In other words, that child will not experience the neglect or abuse that most of the children in foster care have gone through.
As I look at the paragraph above, it strikes me that it is unfortunate that there is no government funding stream for agencies that are doing the work that Adoption STAR does. I guess that in this time of government fiscal crisis, it is too much to hope for. Yet, hope springs eternal that those with political and economic clout will see the light and will help in the development of funding streams to empower Adoption STAR and other agencies doing similar work to increase their outreach and to thereby help more children.
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