Given the data from my last post, I guess one should expect the number of adoptions in MD to shrink. It’s just I would never have expected the numbers to be so dire. Seven hundred seventy-three children were adopted in 2009 from out of home placements. In the last twelve months, only three hundred fifty such children have been adopted in MD. In just a five-year span, we have cut our adoption rate by fifty-five percent. Note, this five-year span is after the economic collapse in 2008 which never hit MD as hard as other states thanks in large part to the number of federally employed residents. So what is our excuse?
Well, maybe five years is simply a bad point in time from which to start. Maybe it is the outlier for what ever reason be it recession putting more kids in care or the general feeling of needing to take care of kids in hard times of war/military deployments and monetary crunching. We should save the kids in such times right?
Maybe that good will fades some with better economic times, and we should look at 2011. This would be right before the MD legislature passed legislation to reduce the amount of money foster parents would receive if they adopt. Keep in mind foster parents adopt roughly 60 percent of the foster kids lucky enough to be adopted. In 2011, five hundred forty-two kids were adopted by families in MD. Still, that would mean we are adopting thirty-five percent fewer children now than we did just three years ago. (All of the data above can be found at Maryland Department of Human Resources)
I suspect a simple truth for why we are adopting fewer children is the new laws or MD interpretation of federal laws has made it harder for families who foster to adopt multiple children. The real question is why? If the goal is to save money, the state did manage to save 2.8% of what it was paying for foster care services, but the cost was drastically reducing the adoption rate. My guess is these savings are short-term as well because with less kids adopted, the state continues to incur administrative costs for more kids in foster care from increased case loads for social workers to increased legal fees to … One might even note the costs are already projected to rise for the next fiscal year.
Maybe the real reason for the change in interpretation was simply a mistaken belief the state could save money by making sure nobody raised adopted children as a profession. To my mind, this raises the question, “Is raising children in a loving home a terrible profession?” It certainly does not pay well as I have mentioned to my wife many times. After all, we could both work at the golden arches for more per hour than we make taking care of a medically fragile child, and that is at a foster care rate.