How We Advocate for Children Through Our Waiting Child Program 

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The Spence-Chapin Way

How We Advocate for Children Through Our Waiting Child Program

Spence-Chapin was founded on the belief that every child deserves a family. We are committed to ensuring a caring, secure, and permanent environment for every child we serve. Our waiting child program serves children both domestically and internationally who are in critical need of a well-suited, prepared, and loving adoptive family.


Domestic Waiting Child Program

For the children we advocate for who are residing in the United States, the Waiting Child Program is often the last opportunity a child may have for permanency. Many of the children we serve through this program are at risk of entering the child welfare system or a long-term care facility, neither of which offer the permanency and stability biological parents are seeking for their children. The biological parents we serve seek out our services to help them make a permanent plan that will ensure their child’s long-term well-being. Due to a diverse range of circumstances, biological parents reach out to Spence-Chapin to help explore the possibility of adoption because they feel they are no longer able to provide all the time, care, resources and environment they feel their child/children deserve, and they want to explore if there is a family out there who can. Our team of experts provide counseling, support, and information to help biological parents make informed decisions about the child’s long-term future. Our primary focus is on helping families find solutions that provide the child with the stability they need for their entire life, not just in the current moment.

Biological parents receive extensive counseling that addresses the complex and sensitive circumstances that led them to reach out to Spence-Chapin. Through an expansive network of social service and healthcare partner organizations, Spence-Chapin is able to connect biological parents to resources that they may not currently have access to but are eligible for that could potentially aid them in continuing to parent. Many of the biological parents we serve, however, have already sought out on their own the resources and support networks available to them, and have found that even with these resources, there are still insurmountable challenges to continuing to parent. Social workers explore all available options with biological parents that would create a stable, permanent environment for their child(ren). Some of the parents we serve feel equipped to continue parenting with the support they receive and the resources that we help identify, while others are facing circumstances that preclude parenting as an option and choose to make an adoption plan for their child(ren).

Given the complex nature of these cases, Spence-Chapin advocates for these children through our Waiting Child Program, which utilizes every avenue possible to locate prospective adoptive families who would be a perfect match for each child. This includes our website, social media, and outreach to organizations and agencies we partner with throughout the country.  In all cases, we try to find prospective adoptive families who meet the birth parents’ preferences. Birth parents have the choice whether they want to consider a prospective adoptive family or not.  Birth parents stay involved and in control of the planning and transition process all the way through to placement with an adoptive family. The biological family also authorizes the means by which we advocate for their child(ren), providing consent for any photos, videos, descriptions, or other information that is shared through the advocacy process.

Both Spence-Chapin’s pre- and post-adoption teams are intricately involved in these cases, ensuring that biological parents and their children are receiving ongoing counseling to prepare for this transition, and that the adoptive family, once selected, is also receiving counseling and training to prepare for their new family member and their long-term well-being.

Spence-Chapin recognizes the benefit that open adoption has for adoptees, birth families, and adoptive families, and works with biological parents to craft a communication plan for the future that is in the best interest of the child, helping to ease the transition and to bond with their new family in the short term, and to have an authentic and  rich connection to both their adoptive and birth families in the long-term. All adoptive families we work with receive training in open adoption and are committed to the benefit this brings to the adoptee and their families. Spence-offers preparative and ongoing support to assist child(ren) and families in navigating their lifelong relationship.

Through our counseling and community programs, Spence-Chapin offers lifelong support for any and all issues or challenges adoptees, biological and adoptive families may face, as well as the opportunity to build a community of peers to aid in their lifelong journey.


International Waiting Child Program

We regularly receive information from our international partners about children who are in need of immediate adoption. We are able to share the profiles of children who are considered to be the most in need and are waiting internationally to be matched with an adoptive family. Children who are considered ‘waiting children’ generally have multi-faceted characteristics and needs which exceed the common characteristics and needs of children otherwise placed in one of our international programs. The children featured on this page have been waiting the longest to find families and consist of children who are older, part of a sibling group, or children with a diagnosed medical condition. Visit our International Adoption page to learn more about our international programs.


Learn more about our approach to international adoption on our podcast.

To find out more contact us at

212-400-8150 or email us at