The Department of Child Services is using sophisticated advertising and marketing techniques that allow prospective parents to essentially shop for adoptable foster children on an Internet site and in a slick monthly magazine.
The new project, focused on finding permanent homes for thousands of Hoosier children taken from their parents by the department and left adrift in foster care, emphasizes reaching out to minority parents through churches and community groups.
It is part of an effort to speed up the process of finding safe, permanent homes for children who have been taken from their parents due to neglect or abuse and who cannot return home.
The number of children available for adoption through Indiana's child welfare system increased by more than 60 percent, from 1,959 in 2000 to 3,195 in 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Most live in foster or group homes after courts have permanently cut their parents' ties through a legal process called termination of parental rights.
The whole notion of allowing potential parents to shop online for a child to adopt raises some concerns given how much the Internet has become the tool of choice for predators. The efforts are certainly well-intentioned just as long as the proper safeguards are being followed to ensure the best interests of the children are upper most in any adoption decisions.