When you think about children what is the first thing that comes to mind? Smiling, laughing, hugs, happiness? Those are all great words to describe the way that kids make us feel. They make us feel loved, appreciated and needed.
But what about those kids who have never had that return experience of being loved, nurtured, needed and appreciated? Yes, as sad as it is, those kids are out there and there are thousands of them. They are the kids that are in foster care.
Most of these kids grow up never having a family to count on. They move from home to home, never knowing how long they are going to be in one place. Most of them develop the idea of the perfect family, something that exists in their mind, and something that they think will probably never exist for them.
The children who are in the foster care system are stuck. They need people who want to provide them with a loving, caring family. People who will simply bring them in and show them what compassion is. Someone who will give them a forever family, no matter how old they are.
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.
Adoptuskids.org is a resource to help you whether you’re just starting the process to foster or adoption, waiting for a placement, or looking for post-adoption resources. Most people may be eligible to adopt, regardless of marital status, age, income, or sexual orientation. You don’t need to own your own home, have children already, be young, wealthy, or a stay-at-home parent to adopt or foster.
There are many misconceptions about adoption such as cost, rules and regulations. Many of them are just not true. If you are serious about learning more about fostering or adopting, please be sure to get information from a trusted resource. If you need help connecting with resources or a local agency contact us. You can also contact the foster care program manager in your State or Territory.
Why Older Youth?
• All of us – and that includes older youth in foster care who are waiting to be adopted – need and want families throughout life to support us and to share important life events. Learning to drive a car, applying for higher education, and birthday and holiday celebrations are just a few examples of the times in life we need and want to share with family.
• Older youth generally wait longer to be adopted, and have lower overall adoption rates.
• On AdoptUSKids.org, roughly 43 percent of the children and youth actively photolisted are between the ages of 15 and 18 years old. (Most recent stats as of September 30, 2016)
• Families who adopt older youth are providing them with the support and stability of a family during a critical period of normal adolescent concerns and additional self-identity issues.
A Few Facts about Adopting from Foster Care:
• Adoption isn’t expensive. Most adoptions from U.S. foster care are free. The minimal costs that can be associated with them are often reimbursable. 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.
• Kids are in foster care through no fault of their own. Children and youth enter foster care not because they’ve done anything wrong, but because they have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by the people who were supposed to care for them. Over 100,000 are waiting for the love and security that a permanent home provides.
• Many different kinds of people can adopt:
◦ In most instances, you’re eligible to adopt regardless of age, income, marital status or sexual orientation.
◦ You don’t need to own your own home, be wealthy, or have a college degree to adopt. (However, you do need to demonstrate that you can support yourself without any additional income, such as adoption assistance.)
◦ You don’t have to be a stay-at-home parent or have children already. And you don’t have to be of child-bearing age—experienced parents and empty-nesters are encouraged to adopt.
◦ In most states, you do not have to be married to adopt. Many children have been successfully adopted by single parents.
◦ Even families living outside of the United States, including military families stationed overseas, are eligible to adopt from the U.S. foster care system.
No matter what their age, youth need the love and stability that a family can offer. I hope that you will take a few minutes and check out the Adoptuskids.org site. Look around and learn about fostering and adoption. Learn more about the success stories of those kids who have been adopted and how much of an impact it had on their life. Maybe today you can make a difference in the life of a child.