November is National Adoption Month and I was asked to reach out on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AdoptUSKids, and the Ad Council to help spread the word about a new PSA campaign that encourages prospective parents to adopt older youth from foster care.
One of my earliest memories was lying on a BIG wood table with a woman diapering me surrounded by older children. I don't know how long after that I was allowed to be taken home to my adoptive family--I do know I was 5 months when I had a family and home of my own. That original memory has never quite left me and I have often wondered over the years what happened to all those children who surrounded that table. Were they ever adopted? I certainly hope so. All children need and deserve a loving family who will bring stability into their lives and make them feel their worth. To make sure they not only get the love they most certainly deserve but also the attention they crave. A lot of them act out from feeling abandoned and unwanted-they are literally screaming for attention.
"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. The new TV PSAs, which were created for the campaign probono, portray a dad giving advice to his teenage daughter after her first breakup, and a mom giving her son a haircut at home. The humorous, lighthearted scenarios aim to overcome fears adoptive parents may have regarding their own imperfections. The PSAs end with the tagline, “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent,” reassuring prospective parents that even if they are not ‘perfect’, they have the ability to provide the stability and security that older youth in foster care need and deserve."
Back when I was adopted it was not easy and it sometimes took months to finalize the adoption. Not so much anymore, at least not from the Foster Care system.
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 have a college degree. Having a high school diploma or college education is not required. What is important is that you are stable, flexible, and compassionate, and that you have a good sense of humor. Most importantly, you must have the support and commitment to raise a child and to be there for him throughout his life.
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.
I had a neighbor who used to be a Nun but gave it up in order to adopt a baby girl born with the Aids virus. A few years after that she took in an older foster child, who also had been born with the Aids virus. Although she tried, she was never able to legally adopt the second child. I think it had something to do with her birth parents-at any rate these two girls were given a life many would envy! That baby girl beat the odds and lived until she was 16 or 17 years old. To my knowledge the younger one is still going strong. A loving, caring home can produce miracles.
There are 415,000 children in the U.S. foster care system and 108,000 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 25,000 children who were once photo listed on adoptuskids.org have been adopted and nearly 38,000 families have registered to adopt through the website. Nevertheless, older youth are disproportionately represented – approximately 41 percent of children and youth photo listed on adoptuskids.org are between 15 and 18 years old, but only 17 percent of those adopted have been in this age group
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