Children over age five are in need of adoptive families. These children are hard to place because most families want to adopt babies or younger children. If kids are in PANI shelters at age five, chances are that they will grow up in them until age 18.
27 children per year who are legally ready to be adopted stay in PANI shelters without finding a home in the country or abroad. This figure is 16.3% of the 163 new records ready for adoption that PANI receives per year.
Kids who are in the system for over a year after being declared legally ready for adoption are put in a group of “promotion” for the next 12 months. This promotes their profile through international adoption agencies. There are currently 74 minors on that list. 96% of them are over age seven.
There is a great interest in adopting in Costa Rica and there are always between 90 and 140 families waiting to adopt but they are waiting for young children. They are often also waiting for children who physically look like them, are not in a sibling group, and do not have any disability themselves or in their biological family. 52% of adults on standby to adopt are left waiting because the available kids are incompatible with what the adults want. 90% of adults who approach PANI are asking for kids under five years of age. The remaining 10% will accept up to age seven. Those interested in kids older than seven practically do not exist in Costa Rica. Those who are over seven, if they are placed, are usually placed in foreign families, mostly from the United States and Europe.
Minors not adopted work on creating a life facing the challenges of growing up institutionalized and facing early adulthood without a family. The organization Surgir works with many of these adolescents by developing a comprehensive care plan, which includes education, technical training and training in soft skills. Some of the young people have access to shelter, food, clothing and psychosocial accompaniment by Surgir. They leave with help finding a job and a first apartment.
Kids and really people of all ages have a desire for love, protection and belonging. While babies and young kids emotionally connect quickly because of need, older kids and teens connect to their adoptive families easily too, not out of need but out of that basic desire for love and family. Anyone considering adopting an older child can receive orientation directly through PANI or through organizations like Acofa, the Costa Rican Association of Adoptive Families.