More women want to adopt; few do

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More women say they are interested in adopting children but fewer are taking steps to adopt, a study shows.

About 18 million women expressed an interest in adoption in 2002, a 38 percent increase from 13 million in 1995, said the National Adoption Day Coalition’s study, released yesterday.

The “mystique” of adoption has dissipated, said Maxine Baker, coalition co-chairwoman.

The coalition promotes adoption, especially of the 119,000 children in foster care who are in need of adoptive families.

Government and private groups across the nation have done a good job raising awareness about the benefits and joys of adoptions, said Ms. Baker, an adoptive mother of two and president and chief executive of the Freddie Mac Foundation.

Now it’s time for the “call to action,” moving from talking about “the concept” of adoption to “how to do” it, she said.

The coalition’s study, conducted by researchers with the Urban Institute, compares data from the 1995 and 2002 National Surveys of Family Growth (NSFG). It found that of the 18 million women interested in adoption, Protestants and blacks were the most interested, with more than a third of each group saying they had considered it.

Of the 760,000 women who indicated they were “currently seeking to adopt” in 2002, many said they would consider adopting children with “special needs.” For instance, 97 percent said they would consider a child of an ethnic or racial minority, 90 percent would consider a child with a mild disability and 75 percent would consider a sibling group.

About a third said they would consider adopting teenagers or children with severe disabilities.

However, between 1995 and 2002, the number of women who took steps to adopt declined significantly.

In 1995, 16 percent, or 2.1 million, of women who expressed an interest in adoption started the process by contacting someone — an agency, lawyer or other adoption source — about adopting. In 2002, 10 percent, or 1.9 million women, took such action.

Prospective adoptive families probably need more information about services, tax benefits, employer assistance and changes in adoption policies, Ms. Baker said. For instance, it used to be that to adopt, “you had to quit your job and stay home,” she said. But today, single parents and working mothers can adopt, she said.

On Saturday, about 3,100 adoptions will be finalized in hundreds of courts across the nation, including 30 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

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