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Children are our future. As they grow up, they become us, the adults who work in the factories, bakeries, local businesses, and the leaders of our nation. A truly great life is filled with love and family and those pivotal moments that we get to share with one another. As the holidays are approaching and we get busy thinking about our family get-togethers, cooking food and shopping, I ask that you take a moment to stop and think about the kids who have no family. It may be a somber thing to think about. Maybe it isn’t something you want to think about. But it is so very important.
There are 428,000 youth in the U.S. foster care system and 112,000 are waiting to be adopted. AdoptUSKids’ maintains a national photo listing service for children waiting to be adopted. Since the project launched in 2002, more than 26,000 children who were once photo listed on adoptuskids.org have been adopted and nearly 39,000 families have registered to adopt through the website. Nevertheless, older youth are disproportionally represented – approximately 43% percent of children and youth photo listed on adoptuskids.org are between 15 and 18 years old, but only 17% of those adopted have been in this age group.
Can you imagine? Knowing that because you are too old, you may never have the family that you always hoped for, that you always dreamed of? Older youth and teens have lower adoption rates than younger children, and they often wait longer to be adopted. But no matter their age, all kids need a supportive, loving home and the teenage years are a critical period for growth. While these kids may have the essential things that they need to grow up healthy, like food and a roof over their heads, that does not make up for the kind of love and support that a family can give them. Having a roof over your head doesn’t mean that these kids are being given a truly happy life, one which every child deserves.
Some of the Misperceptions about Adoption from Foster Care:
- Adoption is expensive. Unlike the private adoption of an infant or adopting internationally, there are virtually no costs associated with adoption from the US child welfare system. In addition, the vast majority of youth adopted from foster care are also eligible for monthly adoption assistance up to the level of the foster care rate.
- You have to be married. You do not have to be married to adopt in most states. Many children have been very successfully adopted by single parents. Single-parent families accounted for 29 percent of all adoptions from foster care in 2014 (AFCARS).
- You have to own a home and each child has to have their own room. You can rent your home or live in an apartment or a mobile home so long as your living situation is a stable one.
- You have to be of child-bearing age to adopt. Experienced parents and empty-nesters are encouraged to adopt. In most instances, you’re eligible to adopt regardless of age, income, marital status or sexual orientation.
- You can only adopt a child who is the same race and ethnicity as you. Federal law prohibits the delay or denial of an adoptive placement based on the race or ethnicity of a child in U.S. foster care and the prospective parent or parents who are seeking to adopt them. The only exception to this law is the adoption of Native American children where special considerations apply.
- You can’t adopt if you’re in the military. Military families stationed overseas and within the U.S. are eligible to adopt children from the U.S. foster care system.
The truth is there are kids out there who need YOU. And whether you realize it or not, maybe you need them too. For more information about adoption, or about becoming an adoptive parent to a child from foster care, please visit www.adoptuskids.org or visit the campaign’s communities on Facebook and Twitter.