Jeff Katz from Listening to Parents writes this:
Understanding the Disincentives to Adoption
Nobody consciously discourages good prospective parents from adopting.. There are, however, a number of very strong disincentives that cause public child welfare agencies to act in ways that discourage would-be adoptive parents. One of the most significant disincentives is on the caseworker level. The other disincentive involves adoptions across state or county lines.
First, individual caseworkers have disincentives to make adoptive placements. In order for a child in foster care to be adopted, he or she must be in a relatively stable situation. A caseworker with too large a caseload will, by necessity, respond to the child in crisis before the relatively stable child who would benefit in the long term by having a permanent family. In addition, adoptions are extremely labor-intensive involving meetings with parents, teachers, therapists and others, as well as preparing the child for a major life change. Finally, when a caseworker does move a child from a stable situation to an adoptive family, the caseworker receives a new case, which invariably will require more work than the child he or she replaces.
Disincentives Among Jurisdictions
Second, states have very strong incentives to keep "their" families. Each state pays the cost of recruiting and preparing their own families with no compensation if the family adopts a child from another state. In this system, it makes more sense for a state to keep a family waiting for a year than to match them immediately with a waiting child in another state. As a result, while 17,000 children crossed America's national borders last year from other countries for the purpose of being adopted, fewer than 1,000 American children in foster care crossed state borders to be adopted. In many states, this pattern also holds true across county lines, making it very difficult in North Carolina for a family in Raleigh to adopt a child in Durham.
Until we establish rational incentives that reward everyone involved in successfully making an adoption, children will wait while good, potential parents are turned away and turned off.