How to Find and Use Waiting Child Photolistings

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Sensitivity and Privacy
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Adopting a Waiting Child
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Publicizing Children

Exposure of children and youth in foster care who have been legally released for adoption (waiting children) through print, online, and other media photos and profiles is done to create interest, often because they have special needs, thus making them hard to place (such a sad term). Unfortunately, there are thousands upon thousands of children and youth waiting for their forever families.

Note: If you are seriously interested in adopting a waiting child, be sure you are "homestudy-ready" since many states won't give out any information to those who do not have a completed homestudy, and you will surely be asked to submit your homestudy when you inquire about a particular child or children.

Photolistings on the Web

Originally, photolistings were created as books, with updated pages available through a subscription with state, regional, or national organizations and agencies. In recently years, more and more photolistings have found their way onto the Web. The hope is that, by placing a photograph of a waiting child on a readily-accessible Web site, a family will see the child first, and the needs or age of the child second. If a child gets placed into a loving home, then it does have merit. However, in today's world, most kids - and certainly the older ones - know that their picture has been publicized, and they sit - waiting, hoping, and wondering if a family will choose them.

Can you imagine that kind of pressure? Or how much it hurts to know that you aren't being chosen?

For this reason, and for the protection of children's privacy and dignity, some of today's Web-based photolistings are being pared back to include a minimum of information, and photographs of the referenced children may be replaced with pictures of models. (If this is the case, the site should carry a notation to that effect.) Others may require a registration process before families can access the photolisting area of a site.

Before Using Photolistings

L. Anne Babb, PhD, of Homes for Kids, suggests:
  • Getting an excellent medical reference book to increase understanding of terms and conditions used in profiles;
  • Making several copies of your homestudy to have on hand to send out on your own (as an unofficial copy) as soon as it's requested.

Getting Started

As you consider the photolistings:
  • Keep a pen and paper at hand to note information.
  • Use your computer's bookmark feature to save pages of special interest.
  • Research information provided and list questions you have for the social worker during follow-up communication.
  • Call the same day you see a listing since consideration, in most cases, is given first to those who make the first contact.
  • If you can't easily find the contact information on a state photolisting, find contact information on the state's child services Web site.

Wise Words

Dr. Babb is well known as an advocate for children, author, and adoptive parent. As you explore the adoption of waiting children, I'd like to include two quotes from her:

When you call about a particular child's listing, you should tell the worker why you are perfect for the child, not why the child is perfect for you.

-from Tips for Self-Directed Special Needs Adopters

We should not be asking who this child belongs to, but who belongs to this child.

- from her talk at a recent conference on open adoption


  • By State
    Listings posted by state agencies, listing services and private agencies.
  • Kids Around the World
    Includes listings in Canada, United Kingdom (for UK residents only), and other countries.
  • Multi-State Listings
    Postings by regional and national exchanges and organizations.
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