November is National Adoption Month, and this year's focus is on finding adoptive families for older youth and highlighting the importance of engaging young people in both routine and systems-change processes.
There is a huge need for adoptive parents willing to take youth who are at risk of aging out of the foster care system. Studies have shown that long-term success rates are much higher for teens who are adopted into families, before aging out of the system.
In a letter launching this year's National Adoption Month, Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner at the Children's Bureau, lays out some statistics that highlight the great need for families willing to adopt teens from foster care, as well as note some recent successes.
2020 National Adoption Month Children's Bureau Message
Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner at the Children’s Bureau
This year, the Children's Bureau's National Adoption Month initiative—including its National Adoption Recruitment Campaign—focuses on the thousands of teenagers and young adults in foster care who still need a loving, permanent family and a place to call home. The data shows that our efforts are making a difference.
The number of children and youth in foster care significantly decreased to 423,997 in September 2019. We also saw a decrease in the number of children waiting to be adopted. On September 30, 2019, the number of children and youth waiting for adoption or other permanent homes was over 122,000. Of those children, 13,974 (11 percent) were between the ages of 15 and 17.
Even with these positive trends, our work continues. Securing permanent connections for these young people remains critically important and deserves our unwavering commitment. Nurturing parental relationships, within both birth and adoptive families, is essential for healthy physical and emotional development.
For youth in foster care, adoption means that they belong and can feel connected to a family who will support them no matter what...Youth have ideas about what they want and need for their life and likely have questions and concerns they must discuss in order to move forward with permanency planning. As you pursue permanency for older youth, it’s vital that each young person is able to inform the process and make decisions about their life...I hope you will join us in celebrating National Adoption Month this November and consider ways you can engage, listen, and learn from young people.
Key Facts and Statistics
- There are over 122,000 children and youth waiting to be adopted who are at risk of aging out of foster care without permanent family connections. (AFCARS report)
- In the U.S. foster care system, approximately one in five children waiting to be adopted are teens
- Only 5 percent of all children adopted in 2018 were 15 - 18 years old.
- The risk of homelessness and human trafficking is increased for teenagers in foster care.
- According to the most recent AFCARS report, of the 122,000 children and youth waiting to be adopted:
- 52 percent are male
- 48 percent are female
- 22 percent are African American
- 22 percent are Hispanic
- 44 percent are white
- The average age is eight years old
- 11 percent are between 15 and 18 years old
- Average time in foster care is 31 months
What YOU Can Do to Help
Family ties and support are crucial for teens to grow and be successful as adults. We know that there is a misconception of babies and children being more approachable as adoptive children, but we want to challenge that.
Teens are at a critical developmental stage in their lives where they are longing to connect with people and solidifying their idea of what family is. Our hope this year is you chose to "Engage Youth: Listen and Learn". Teens are in the midst of discovering who they are, solidifying values, and navigating their possible dreams for the future. It is a rewarding and impactful time to be a parent in their life.
Children almost always end up in foster care for reasons beyond their control, not because they got in trouble. They have experienced trauma and they need nurturing from stable adult role models.
You can be the difference in these kids' lives. So reach out to Victor Treatment Centers and get a little more information about adoption options. We strive to provide amazing support throughout the process and you might end up expanding your family sooner than you think.