Families interested in adopting and who are willing to consider adopting an African-American or biracial child are desperately needed by St. Mary's, an adoption agency in Arlington Heights.
"St. Mary's is always struggling to find parents looking to adopt African-American children," says Cindy Anselmo, clinical supervisor for the agency. "We work with women who would like to have an adoption plan, but we're short of parents who want to adopt."
Like the other infants St. Mary's places, these infants are healthy and generally have no special needs or circumstances, she says.
"One of the benefits is, for families that are comfortable adopting transracially, you tend to be placed quicker," says Anselmo. Some of the families they have placed children with return to adopt more, she says. "Families often report to us that those who embark on a transracial adoption feel their lives are more enriched by opening themselves to a child with a different culture or different race. It really helps them expand their horizons."
Prospective parents need to understand the complexities of adopting outside their race, but there are many resources to help, Anselmo says. St. Mary's works with prospective parents to prepare them, but there are also many support groups and camps to help parents raise a child of a different race or background.
One of the challenges, however, is that because the culture of
African-Americans doesn't necessarily embrace adoption, there is a
good chance the mom will change her mind when the baby is born,
Anselmo cautions. For families who choose to continue with the
program, St. Mary's will work with them until they find a
The program is subsidized to make it more affordable, so the cost to adopt is $15,000, which covers St. Mary's placement services as well as any costs they cover for the birth mom, such as medical care or housing.
Prospective parents must be married, live in Illinois and be willing to go through a home-study process, which generally takes about three to four months. To get started with the adoption process, call St. Mary's at (847) 870-8181.
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.