Each May, the United States recognizes National Foster Care Month. Last year’s Presidential Proclamation called for us to “recommit to helping more [fostered] children find permanency so they can feel stable, grounded, and free to fulfill their limitless potential.”
This month, we take time to discuss the sad reality that some parents can not adequately keep their children safe. We recognize that those children need temporary care in hopes of eventual reunification with biological families. And we claim that, in the event that reunification isn’t possible, children deserve an alternative and permanent solution via adoption.
Honestly, after that claim, we drop the ball.
It is decided, in many cases, that though adoption is deserved, it isn’t necessarily realistic, and other plans are created for “permanency.” Do you know what they are? There are two options frequently cited in statistical reports1: Long Term Foster Care or Independent Living. In other words, teens can remain in foster care until age 18, or age 21, or until they tire of the restrictions on normalcy. After that? They are on their own. I’ve taken to referring to these permanency options as planned homelessness.
Why don’t we do better?
Over 110,000 children in U.S. foster care are waiting for adoption. Some, like this 14-year-old in Louisiana, publicly plea for someone to adopt him.
These are our children, and there are thousands of them. I am tired of hearing that our best plan is for them to “age out” of foster care, pack their (trash) bags, and move out. I am tired of the myths that describe them as juvenile delinquents. I am tired of hearing that these children are difficult to place.
This belief is simply false.
While adopting from foster care isn’t for everyone, children in foster care don’t need everyone. They just need someone. I believe there are plenty of someone’s out there, ready and willing to adopt children considered by some to be “nontraditional.” I would prefer to reframe that notion: what could be more traditional than creating a family?
These waiting children and teens need two parent families and single parents, LGBTQ parents and straight parents. They need parents of all ethnicities. They need love beyond labels.
Perhaps they need you.
Adoption is challenging. Parenting is challenging. At WACAP, we can help you navigate the process and be ready to parent children who’ve known hard places, in a way that speaks their language and heals their histories of complex developmental trauma. Such ideas can be scary, yes. But imagine how scary it was to experience that trauma and live with its consequences. These children survived and are waiting for someone to see their limitless potential and say yes to their need.
Perhaps they are waiting for you.
You’ve got this. We’re here to help. Let’s work together and show them how valuable they are, how deserving they are. May 2017 be the last year many of these children celebrate National Foster Care Month while living within the foster care system.
About WACAP’s CEO, Greg Eubanks: Greg joined WACAP as CEO in December 2014. Serving children and families has been the focus and passion of his 20-year career in nonprofit executive leadership and business administration. With an extensive background in international adoption and foster care, Greg is committed to bringing hope to the children living without a family … and helping them home.