For children who have no possibility of remaining with or returning to their parents or extended family, adoption can provide a pathway to a permanent family. Research has demonstrated that an adoptive family environment can support improved developmental outcomes for children who have lived in residential care, especially for young children under three years of age.
Given its permanency, multiple levels of gatekeeping must be involved before it is determined that a child is available for adoption. An adoption process should also include the active engagement of judicial authorities and professional social workers external to the residential care facility.
Typically, the legal adoption process includes an in-depth home study of the adoptive family, matching an adoptive family whose resources meet the specific needs of an individual child, family approval for adoption by a court, child placement, postadoption support services, and follow-up home visits as outlined in national adoption laws. When domestic adoption is not possible, intercountry adoption provides children with the opportunity to have a permanent family, provided that the process is governed by national laws, authorized by competent authorities, and guided by informed consent of all concerned.
As with all family care options in the continuum of care, providing training to adoptive parents on issues such as child development and caring for children who have experienced trauma, as well as follow-up support and linkages to any needed family-strengthening services, is critical to preventing family separation and ensuring that children’s needs are being met.
Permanency for Children: The Development of the BCS Global Foster-to-Adopt Pilot Project in Ethiopia Provides initial documentation of a pilot program launched by Bethany Christian Services in Ethiopia. The pilot aims at moving children from institutional care to family-based care by developing alternative family care for nonrelative children using a foster-to-adopt approach, working through a partnership between faith communities in Ethiopia and America. (Bethany Christian Services Global)
The Way Forward Project Report Summarizes working group findings in different areas: family preservation and reunification, interim care alternatives and foster care, permanency (kinship, guardianship, adoption), and legislation and government infrastructure. (Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute)
The Best Interest of the Child in Intercountry Adoption Looks at the best interest concept within human rights, the changing role and purpose of intercountry adoption, and determining best interests within intercountry adoption and ways to ensure that best interest determinations can be made. (UNICEF)