Monday, April 9, 2007

The Value of Adoption

By Mary Boo, NACAC assistant director

In December 2006, Mary Eschelbach Hansen—assistant professor and director of undergraduate studies at American Unversity’s Department of Economics—published The Value of Adoption. Hansen found that every dollar spent on adoption from foster care—including money spent by the government, plus money spent by adoptive parents to help their children heal—yields between $2.45 and $3.26 in benefits to society:

“An adoption from foster care costs state and federal government about $115,000, but saves the government about $258,000 in child welfare and human service costs, netting a savings of $143,000 (Barth et al. 2006, adjusted for inflation to 2000 dollars). I show that each adoption nets between $88,000 and $150,000 in private benefits and $190,000 to $235,000 in total public benefits (in constant 2000 dollars). Thus each dollar spent on the adoption of a child from foster care yields between $2.45 and $3.26 in benefits to society.”

These societal benefits are largely due to the fact that adopted children, when compared to those who languish in long-term foster care, do better. As Hansen cites, adopted children are:

• 32 percent less likely to be incarcerated
• 15 percent more likely to be employed
• more likely to have higher incomes (after adjusting for time spent in school) and
• less likely to participate in welfare programs

These advances result in higher wages over the adopted individual’s lifetime. Other savings are due to lower crime rates for children who have been adopted.

It is time for the government to increase its investment in supporting adoption from foster care—it’s certainly good for children and youth who cannot return to their birth families, and it’s good economic sense.

1 comment:

FosterAbba said...

I think the support needs to come in terms of more financial and other supportive services for adoptive families.

We have an 11-year-old girl place with us right now that we can't afford to adopt. Right now, she's receiving many services, including tutoring, that will stop as soon as her adoption is finalized. She is profoundly behind in school, basically never having been enrolled in school before coming to us. Even with the adoption subsidy, we can't afford to pick up the $900/month it would cost to pay for her tutoring out-of-pocket.

We want to adopt this little girl, but we can't afford to right now, which is what our county wants. We are worried that at some point the county will try to move her to another home, even though we've been the only foster home she's been in since she was placed into foster care.

We want her to stay with us, and she wants the same. We just don't know how to make it work since this little girl needs so much and we can't afford to pay for it ourselves.