Can I help a Foster child this National Adoption Month in VA
November is National Adoption Month
"Only 5 percent of youth adopted in 2018 were teens."
"Teens in foster care are strong, resilient and smart and, given a chance, they can overcome their past and influence the world for better."
November is National Adoption Month. This year's theme is "Engage Youth: Listen and Learn," which focuses on the need for adoptive homes that want to change the lives of older youth in foster care. There is a huge need for adoptive families in Virginia and the nation as a whole! There are over 100,000 youth in foster care waiting to be adopted by a loving family, and more than 700 children waiting to be adopted in Virginia. Sometimes, children wait more than three years for an adoptive home. For teens in foster care, they do not have the luxury of that time to find a permanent connection! According to www.childwelfare.gov, one in five of every youth in need of adoption are teens. Unfortunately, only 5 percent of youth adopted in 2018 were teens. Think about when you were a young adult between the ages of 18-23. Were you able to exist independently with no assistance except for your efforts? I know that there are exceptions, but I had my parents' safety net to support me after becoming a legal adult. Without that, my life may have turned out very differently and not in a good way. Youth who turn 18 in foster care in Virginia have some support through the Fostering Futures program. Still, they often do not have the safety net of a loving, supportive family that can support them after they turn 21 and their independent living resources end.
Many misconceptions are surrounding adopting teens from foster care, such as the youth, not making changes as their behaviors are firmly rooted. The assumption that teens are in foster care due to their actions or that their behaviors are too intense. Teens in foster care have the capacity to change, as do adults who participate in activities to address past traumas and the resulting behaviors and thoughts linked to those past issues. When successful adults from the foster care system are queried about their ability to overcome past obstacles, they often point to one or two people that influenced them, especially in their teen years, that helped them create a bright future. These youth have experienced the trauma of being removed from their families. The majority of these removals are due to parental abuse/neglect. They also have likely experienced other traumatic experiences resulting in them acting out at times due to them not knowing how to adequately express themselves or behaving in ways related to survival instincts. These statements apply to youth of ALL ages that are placed in foster care.
On the other hand, we cannot stress how resilient youth can be despite their previous experiences! These children often learn positive coping strategies with love and patience. They can blossom in safe, stable environments, namely foster homes. Teens in foster care are often much more able to function independently, unlike a younger child, and may require less direct supervision.
There might also be some general questions that one interested in fostering to adopt might have. Suppose you were wondering about what kind of support one can receive when adopting from foster care. In that case, this process can be more affordable and tends to have a shorter waiting period than when working with a private adoption agency. There are different financial resources available, such as grants, to assist with these adoptions and access therapeutic supports. There are also resources available to assist with medical needs or services for the child post-adoption. Many individuals are wary about adopting from foster care due to fear that the biological family may take the child back. The federal government mandates that a biological family, including parents, relatives, and fictive kin, have eighteen months to work towards the goal of reunification before the courts move towards terminating the parents' rights. Once rights are terminated, the parents have a short window of time to contest this ruling. After this time, the child becomes available for adoption.
If you are interested in adopting a teen in foster care, adopting a child of any age, or serving as a foster parent, please contact us and consider attending one of the trainings sessions listed on our calendar. At times, the road can be rocky, as with any child. Still, the reward of helping a youth change the trajectory of their lives despite previous adverse experiences is tremendous.
"Parenting is a crucible, filled with tears and anxiety and laughter. It will pierce your soul. And it will heal you. It is all those things. And more. That's love."
― Josh Shipp