The Effects of ASFA
(Adoptions and Safe Families Act)
Babies are Hot Adoption Commodities
Social Services are Taking Children From Loving Homes
The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), was developed and passed to deal with child abuse and is sometimes called the Mondale Act. The publicity of child abuse in 1974 resulted in the passage of CAPTA, which was justly passed to protect children. The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) was enacted in 1997/8 to deal with a problem created by CAPTA.
The majority of children taken for alleged child abuse are from low-income parents who can ill afford a lawyer. Only half of the children taken ever get returned home even though the law is clear that the primary goal is to keep children in the home with support services.
Where do all of the seized children go? The babies taken are easily placed in foster homes or adopted, while the teens languish in foster care until they are released at the age of 18 years. ASFA created a situation in which the states and counties are paid a per-head bonus to take children from defenseless families such as low-income families and sell the children into adoption.
ASFA started a bonus program for placing a child in adoption to cut down on teens stuck in foster care. The bonuses are from four to six thousand dollars for each child adopted over a set federal baseline, which is based upon the number of children who were adopted before the ASFA went into effect. Once this bonus was established, the number of babies adopted doubled even though it was set up to help teens.
ASFA also decreased the time to reunify with children under the age of four years to 6 months. Now the older children of many families are returned home, but the babies are lost forever to adoption, putting money into the general funds of counties or states to use for whatever they want.
The pool of adoptable foster youth has become older with the ongoing years. People want to adopt babies and young children, who adjust better; therefore, the age of the foster youth remaining in the adoption pool gets older with time. The number of adoptions almost doubled after ASFA was enacted with currently approximately 55% of the total children adopted in the US being between ages 0 to 5 years old and 30% of the adopted children between 5 to 10 years old, causing the aging of the adoptive population of children. The young children are getting adopted out, and the older ones remain in foster care.
Many parents in Santa Clara County California who had a baby and older children were told in confidential mediations that if they gave up their babies for adoption, they could have their older children back. The bottom line is ASFA did not resolve the problem it was created to resolve, and, instead, it created a new problem by taking so many babies from their parents.
ASFA created an adoption program that takes babies for money. It amounts to human trafficking in babies. For prospective adoptive parents, this seems like an advantage because the pool of adoptable babies is very limited. But if you’re a low-income parent who get caught in the sights of the agencies whose role is supposed to be to protect children, you very well stand to lose your infant—no matter what you do. This happens on a huge scale across the US.
In years past, there were problems with children being reunified into abusive families. While older children may be returned to questionable parents, babies are virtually always taken.
There are a disproportionate number of children of color taken and the children of the poor. Families should receive in home services to keep the children safe, but instead the counties take the children into custody to get federal funding. Reasonable efforts to keep children safe in their homes gave way in favor of foster care.
The social services agencies recommend and courts approve a psychological evaluation for almost every parent to determine if the parent will benefit from reunification services. Given that the tool used for this is the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) and extremely arbitrary, every parent has some type of “disorder.” Most anyone who has their children taken from them will have a “disorder” under the DSM. Many if not all of the psychological evaluations of parents in California are not legal and are based at best on arbitrary and flawed non-science.
Further, all this is done in the juvenile dependency court, which is to say, behind secret, closed courthouse doors. It is an entirely secret process, hidden from public scrutiny – except the one family whose case is being heard. The law forbids the families from discussing their cases with one another. So not only do they lose their children, but they can’t tell anyone about it.
The following is a compilation of data from the Internet about adoption and foster care. Richard Wexler of NCCPR does a good analysis of ASFA and the problems.
- Take the Child and Run: Tales From the Age of ASFA – Richard Wexler
- Family Preservation and Adoption – NCCPR
- Current Adoption Data – Federal DHHS/ACF Summary
- Current National Trends – Federal DHHS/ACF Summary
- Adoption Totals increase by state – 1995-2004 DHHS/ACF
- Children waiting to be adopted – 1999-2004
- Adoption tables by state based on age at adoption – 1999-2004, DHHS/ACF
We hope this brief summary of the reports and data will help the readers understand the trends, which have created the taking of young children from the poor and less fortunate. This could be slowed down and stopped with legislation making it mandatory to provide reasonable services or any services in the home of parents and children rather than taking these children from parents just because they are poor.
The children taken are extremely traumatized by the system that is charged with providing assistance to them. Parents are arbitrarily diagnosed with a mental disorders by a flawed and illegal system. There are abused children that need our help and should perhaps be placed in foster care but not at on the scale we are currently seeing, please help.