Fewer children would be stuck in foster care if state authorities reduced red tape and standardized procedures nationwide to encourage more adoptions by out-of-state families, according to a coalition of child welfare experts appealing for change.
"Children wait in foster care not because there aren't enough families to adopt them, but because of artificial barriers we erect," said Jeff Katz, executive director of Listening to Parents, a Boston-based group that organized the initiative.
The coalition — representing several of the nation's leading adoption advocacy groups — issued a report Tuesday detailing some of these barriers and proposing steps to overcome them.
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The report cites federal data showing that there were only 4,600 interstate adoptions out of 690,000 children adopted from foster care between 1998 and 2009. In the 2010 fiscal year, according to Katz, there were 527 interstate adoptions out of about 53,000 total adoptions from foster care.
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The issue of interstate adoption arose last year in Florida in the case of 10-year-old Nubia Barahona. She was adopted in 2009 by her foster parents, Jorge and Carmen Barahona of Miami, and they have been charged with killing her in February 2011.
The adoption by the Barahonas was approved despite strenuous objections from Nubia's aunt and uncle in Texas, Isidro and Ana Reyes, who tried for years to adopt Nubia and her brother themselves — saying the children would be better off with blood relatives who loved them.
The case fueled criticism that interstate adoptions are often needlessly hampered by bureaucratic hurdles.
2 weeks ago