WACO, Texas — Data from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from the past year shows a nearly 25 percent decline in statewide adoptions since 2019.
According to DFPS, 4,586 children were adopted in Texas during the 2021 fiscal year. That number is down from the 5,270 children adopted in 2020 and the 6,107 adopted in 2019.
Slower court systems and financial burdens on families from the pandemic could be factors.
"Part of that is because some families have chosen not to move forward in the process and that might be because of the pandemic," said Debi Tengler, chief relations officer for Arrow Child & Family Ministries.
Texas as a whole saw a decline in adoptions last year, but DFPS said McLennan and Bell Counties actually saw a slight increase in adoptions last year. Regardless, there were still hurdles for DFPS to overcome this year because of the pandemic.
"We had to really rearrange how we do things. We switched a lot of things over to virtual meetings," said Marina Muse, an adoption specialist for DFPS.
Bridget Fuselier, a Baylor University law professor and organizer of McLennan County's annual Adoption Day, said McLennan County is still in dire need of more families to open their homes to children in foster care system.
"They have children they haven't been able to place and the adoption workers are having to look after, basically, these kids and I can't imagine how they feel, knowing they don't have a place to really call home," Fuselier said.
Next Friday, Nov. 19 marks Adoption Day for both McLennan and Bell Counties. It is a gathering of several children in the area, all of whom will be adopted by families on the same day.
"Adoption Day is actually a national celebration of foster care adoptions, so all the children adopted that day have been through the foster care system, but have a family now that wants to adopt them and make them a part of their family," Fuselier said.
If you are interested in adopting or fostering, you can learn more by visiting the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange.