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November 2000Vol. 1, No. 7Adoption Program for Children Orphaned by AIDS Grows in New York

Thousands of children are expected to be orphaned due to AIDS in the next few years in the United States.

The Council on Adoptable Children (COAC), a 25-year-old adoption services agency in New York, started a service in 1993 to assist parents terminally ill with AIDS to plan for the future care of their children and avoid having their children placed into foster care. While other programs in New York have focused on increasing the availability of foster care placements for AIDS orphans, COAC was the first non-governmental program to explore adoption as a viable option. Over 93 percent of children in this program are HIV-negative. COAC's AIDS Orphans Adoption Program features a specialized legal and social service team that offers the following services:

  • Permanency Planning: discussions with the biological parent about the options available, the development of wills, powers of attorney, health care proxies, and custody documents;
  • Recruitment: adoptive parent/guardian/custodian recruitment and matching for children who either have no one to care for them in the future, or whose kin are either unwilling or unable to do so;
  • Family Support Services: appropriate referrals made where necessary through a network of resources
  • Legal Services: advocacy and legal services of a staff attorney.

COAC has a strong track record of recruiting minority parents for the adoption of African-American and Hispanic children in foster care in New York City, particularly special needs children. As of April 2000, statistics for the AIDS Orphans Adoption Program were:

  • Cumulative caseload of 273 AIDS-affected families with 492 children
  • Responded to over 15 requests from other cities needing assistance on how to start an AIDS Orphans Adoption Program.

COAC's bilingual staff has developed informational and recruitment materials for this program in English and Spanish. The titles include:

  • An informational brochure about program
  • Legal Services, a brochure describing permanency planning services
  • Financial Help for Your Family, a guide to entitlements for families affected by HIV/AIDS
  • Who Will Take Care of Me?, a manual for parents with HIV/AIDS
  • Who Will Take Care of Me?, a manual for professionals working with children whose parents have HIV/AIDS
  • Finally a Family, a guide for prospective parents of special needs children

COAC staff is available for presentations to agency/hospital staff and clients in the New York City area. If you are an HIV caseworker or case manager and would like a copy of any of these materials to assist in advising your clients, contact:

JoAnn Buttaro
New York Council on Adoptable Children
AIDS Orphans Adoption Program
666 Broadway, Suite 820
New York, NY 10012
Phone: 212-475-0222
FAX: 212-475-1972