Did you know November is National Adoption Month? This year, the theme is one that really resounds with me: "We Never Outgrow the Need for Family." Isn't this true of every person? In the adoption community, this idea is very important, because older children and youth still have many big milestones in their life they need a family for.
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 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.
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.
“You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent." Those who are willing to provide the stability and security that older youth in foster care need and deserve are the perfect adoptive parents!
We need more adoptive families. And many times, it is common misconceptions about adoption that hinder people from seeking more information.
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.