National Adoption Month – An Interview With Covenant Care’s Stephen Story
November is National Adoption Month so we reached out to one of our friends in the Adoption world to get a better understanding of the adoption landscape in Georgia, specifically through the eyes of someone who works to promote adoption full time. Our interview is with Stephen Story, Executive Director of Covenant Care Services, based in Macon, serving all of Georgia. We hope this interview will help each of us better promote adoption and a love for life to grow a culture of life in Georgia.
Below is Part 1 of a 2 Part article. Please share with your pastors, friends, family and children. Each one of us has a circle of influence and that’s the most important place to encourage life. Enjoy!
First of all, Stephen, thank you for agreeing to this interview to help us get a better grasp on adoption. When someone hears the word “adoption” many people think adopting from foster care. I know that your focus is on adoption at birth, by developing an adoption plan with the mother who has made a decision not to parent her child. So why don’t we start with the very basic. What is adoption?
Adoption is the process by which a person (usually a child) who is not biologically related to a particular family is welcomed into and made a part of that family. It is certainly a legal process, but it is also an emotional and spiritual process. Rightly understood, adoption establishes a relationship in which the adopted person has the same rights, privileges, relationships, and obligations as someone who was biologically born into the adopting family.
I understand that Covenant Care Services focuses on infant adoption, so can you tell us how many infants were adopted in GA last year?
Reliable, state level adoption statistics are not always the most up-to-date. The most recent numbers I’ve seen from the National Council for Adoption show that in 2007 there were 819 unrelated, domestic infant adoptions in Georgia. For comparison, that same year there were 27,510 abortions in Georgia. 
How many children (including foster children) were adopted in Georgia last year?
Again, these numbers are reliable but not terribly recent. According to the National Council for Adoption, in 2007 there were 3,285 related and unrelated domestic adoptions, including adoptions out of foster care, in Georgia. 
Knowing that the state does intervene in many cases, can you tell us how many of those children are still in foster care and how many of those are children have had their parents’ rights terminated, making them eligible for adoption?
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Georgia had approximately 11,000 children in foster care in 2014; 2,370 of these children have a goal of adoption, although not all are currently ready to be adopted. So out of that group, there are 250 children who are currently available for adoption and awaiting an adoptive family. 
Many people think that adoption is cost-prohibitive. Would you help us understand the costs involved?
Adoption costs vary greatly and depend on a range of factors. Is the adoption international or domestic? Is it through a public agency or a private agency? Does the adoption agency have funding other than adoption fees, or do their fees cover the entirety of what it costs the organization to operate?
I can speak most knowledgeably about Covenant Care — we are a private, non-profit adoption agency and adoption fees cover only about one third of our operating expense. Our fees are on a sliding scale based on the adopting family’s income, so each family’s situation is unique. However, fees for a typical Covenant Care adoption are $15,000 – $20,000. That’s a lot of money, but it’s still just a portion of what it costs us to make that adoption happen. We do a tremendous amount of fundraising to cover the remainder of our expenses so that adoption remains as affordable as possible for the adopting families we serve. I should also point out that there are minimal fees to adopt a child from state foster care, and fees for international adoption can vary greatly.
One of the primary reasons domestic adoption is costly is that the process is incredibly time-intensive. At Covenant Care we provide regular, ongoing counseling for clients who are pregnant and considering adoption. We may meet with and counsel a pregnant client for weeks or even months before she gives birth, and at that point she may decide to parent the child instead of placing for adoption. We never charge a pregnant client for the counseling we provide, so in a situation like this we will have provided dozens of hours of counseling without receiving any adoption fees in return. It’s not uncommon for us to provide that level of service to five or six clients before one of them follows through with an adoption plan. Our first concern is informing and educating the client and letting her make her own decisions regarding adoption. However, these costs do add up for the adoption agency, and this is one of the reasons that adoption can be so costly.
On the adoptive family side, state law requires a rigorous “home study” process in order to approve a family to adopt. This process also takes months of work and counseling to ensure that a family is prepared and equipped for this. Making an adoption happen — both on the birth parent side and the adopting family side — is a slow, tedious, and costly process.
Thank you, Stephen, for all you do through CCS and for being such an encouraging example for adoption here in Georgia.
Stephen Story is the Executive Director of Covenant Care Services, a Christian adoption agency based in Macon and serving all of Georgia. Covenant Care specializes in domestic, infant adoption and works to promote adoption as an alternative to abortion. More information on Covenant Care is available at www.CovenantCareAdoptions.com. Stephen and his wife are originally from Augusta and are parents of three children through adoption. Connect with Stephen on Twitter @StephenPStory.
 [Adoption Factbook V, National Council for Adoption, p. 12] [http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6001a1.htm?s_cid=ss6001a1_w]
 [Adoption Factbook V, National Council for Adoption, p. 12]