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OLDER CHILDREN OFTEN NOT FIRST ADOPTION CHOICE.

Byline: CONNIE LLANOS Staff Writer

As of April 2006, 78,960 children in California were waiting for homes in foster care systems, many eligible for adoption.

But families looking to adopt see these kids as a last resort.

The desire to adopt infants, a preference for a particular race or fear of time-consuming and costly court battles are among the reasons prospective parents have avoided adopting foster kids.

``There is this certain stigma about foster care that gets in the way of foster care adoptions,'' said Jill Rosenberg, an adoption coordinator for Inner Circle foster care adoption agency.

Parents must realize every adoption is difficult, Rosenberg said.

``It's really frustrating for me as an adoptions coordinator to see middle- and upper-class families not think about foster care adoption when they begin to think about adopting.''

International adoptions have been receiving extra media coverage since power couples Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and Madonna and Guy Ritchie opened their homes to tykes from across the globe.

Their popularity has grown outside the celebrity world as well.

In 1992, there were 6,536 international adoptees brought to the United States. That number more than doubled in 1997 to 13,620.

Rosenberg is sure that number has doubled again.

``It has become so desirable to adopt an eastern European child, or an Asian child,'' Rosenberg said. ``But why go all the way across the world to save a child?''

Another misconception is that infants cannot be adopted through foster care, which isn't true, Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg said babies should never be placed into the ``system''; there should always be a home for them. But foster infants are even becoming hard to place.

``I have had to turn newborn babies away because I don't have homes for them.''

Cost is another concern for many prospective parents, who have already exhausted their savings trying to have families.

Cary Williams said after she and her husband spent more than $20,000 on unsuccessful in vitro fertilization, foster care adoption was their best option to have children.

Williams acknowledged that the process has been time-consuming and emotionally draining. But she knows that won't matter when her child is finally in her arms.

Families who adopt foster children don't face the daunting bills of private adoptions and they receive federal funding for children with special needs.

For Christine and Lance Hart, who adopted five children from the foster care system, adoption assistance payments help finance treatment for their children's asthma, attention deficit medications, counseling sessions and private school.

In California adoption assistance starts at $425 a month and goes up depending on the child's needs. Payments last until the child reaches 18.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 26, 2006
Words:444
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