When you think of adoption, odds are sweet babies are the first images to pop up in your mind, but those aren’t the only children who would love a family.
November is National Adoption Month and the theme this year is, “We Never Outgrow the Need for Family.”
Think about it: you need a family for a whole lot through those tough tween and teen years. Learning how to drive a car, navigating first relationships, figuring out life after high school, and much more. Those are difficult milestones to navigate alone.
As of last May, approximately 41 percent of the children and youth who were listed on adoptuskids.org were between the ages of 15 and 18 years old. That’s a tough time to grow up without a family, right?
Older children generally wait longer to be adopted, and have lower overall adoption rates, so the need is real.
You may think you’re not a fit for foster care, but you might be surprised. There are many misperceptions, including the following, shared word for word from the PR agency which asked me to help get the word out from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AdoptUSKids, and the Ad Council.
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 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.
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.
As the adoption PSAs explain, “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent,” you just have to have the ability to provide the stability and security that older youth in foster care need and deserve.
Trust me—no parent is perfect. Heck, I’m not even close. Just ask my kids. But I do my best and would hope if something ever happened to me, that my kids wouldn’t be on their own to face life’s tough times by themselves.
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