In the past, even through the 1960’s, the pattern of supply and demand for adopted children showed a shortage of healthy white infants but an excess of other children needing homes—blacks„ Indians, older children. This pattern has changed strikingly over the past few years. The Child Welfare League of America reported at the end of 1971 that all healthy infants less than a year old, regardless of race, were easily placed, and that white children up to the age of seven also found homes with relative ease.
There are a number of reasons for this imbalance of supply and demand. On one side, legalized abortion has sharply decreased the number of illegitimate births, particularly among whites. There is also a greater willingness among unwed mothers to keep their babies, and a greater acceptance in society of such unconventional family units. On the other side, the number of applications from prospective parents has greatly increased, The explanation offered for much of this increase is concern about the population explosion; couples planning a family of four children may, for instance, have two of their own, then adopt two more. Agencies have also observed a greater readiness in white couples to accept, or even request, interracial adoption.
There are, nonetheless, significant numbers of children that agencies still find difficult to place. These include blacks more than a year old, school-age children (i.e., 7 to 14), all children with physical or mental disabilities, and siblings
who should not be separated. To mobilize national efforts to place such children, the Adoption Resources Exchange of North America (ARENA) was established in 1967 by the Child Welfare League.
ARENA makes the formerly isolated adoption agencies of North America a part of a huge network of adoption resources. Through ARENA, adoption agencies with children for whom they cannot find families, are put in touch with agencies in other parts of the continent that have applicants for whom they have no children.
Thus, an adoption agency in Scranton or Calgary now has, through the adoption resources of ARENA, the adoption resources of public and private agencies in Ottawa or New York. Couples wishing to adopt a child can obtain lists of licensed adoption agencies from their state department of social welfare, or locally from such organizations as the Community Chest or United Fund.