I remember going to bed, listening to Edith (not her real name out of respect for her privacy) tell me how her mother held a gun to her head as she went to sleep some nights. Other times, she told me about her father using a horse whip to discipline her. Or making her drink from the toilet.
I was only about 10 when she told me this. Edith might have been 14.
She was one of the foster children who my family took care of for a bit, as the courts figured out whether she should go back home and live with her parents again, or stay in foster care until she was 18, or, hopefully be adopted by another family sooner.
My parents didn’t have great childhoods, so when they married and started a family, they wanted to help other children who also didn’t have the most ideal parents…children like Edith. Some of their friends took in foster children and they decided that would be the best way for them to help children, too.
Many, many children came through our home through the years. My parents adopted five of the children who stayed with us, and they became part of our family forever.
My parents wanted to adopt many more. They couldn’t, for a variety of reasons.
I know they struggled with that—the knowledge that so many other children were waiting for families.
Today, 402,000 children are in the foster care system in the United States. Nearly 102,000 children (under 18 years of age) waiting for adoption.
During this holiday season, there’s an extra push to help them find homes. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AdoptUSKids and the Ad Council recently unveiled a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) designed to continue to encourage the adoption of children from foster care with an emphasis on the importance of keeping siblings together.
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Since the launch of the campaign in 2004, more than 22,000 children who were once photo-listed on the AdoptUSKids website are now with their adoptive families and over 35,000 families have registered to adopt through AdoptUSKids.
Many times, there are siblings also listed. Approximately 23% of children and youth actively photolisted on the AdoptUSKids website and waiting for placement in adoptive homes were registered with one or more siblings. Sibling relationships are often the longest-lasting relationships for children in foster care.
Maybe you can help a child like Edith become part of your family, too.