So far this month, this month I have dedicated to the subject of adoption, I have written primarily about special needs adoption. I am planning before the month is over to write about other types – parental placement and overseas adoption for example. But before I move on and away from special needs adoption, there is one more point I want to cover.
I know many families are reluctant to consider the adoption of an older child, and specifically teenagers. That’s why there are so many teenagers that wait, and so many that eventually ‘age out’ of the foster care system.
There was a wonderful article in our local newspaper this past weekend that addressed that very point. The article was tough to read. There were statistics like:
- Once children in foster care reach age 9, they are less likely to be adopted. Research shows that many of them will face significant obstacles in the future, including homelessness, incarceration, unemployment, depression, substance abuse, and the lack of educational attainment. These outcomes impact all of society, which bears the costs at the local, state, and national level.
- While their circumstances and backgrounds vary, the demographics of foster care children awaiting adoption have been changing. As of September, 27.8 percent of the children in foster care were between the ages of 16 and 18. Another 16.8 percent were between the ages of 13 and15. Forty percent are African-American, and more than half are male.
- Every day that a waiting child remains in foster care, his or her chances of being adopted grow dimmer.
And my mother’s heart has even more questions. Who will tell him Happy Birthday? Who will ask him what he wants for Christmas? How can he look forward to holidays when in his life, holidays are just the same as all the other days?
Parenting a teenager is not for the weak of heart. But parenting a teenager from the foster care system can make your heart grow stronger. Often I hear parents say, “But if I adopt a teenager, I will have missed all the ‘firsts’ in their life – first steps, first words, first day of school.” Check back with me tomorrow and we will talk about ‘firsts’, and how you can still celebrate them with your adopted teenager.
The child pictured above is Charles. He is waiting for his family. Please contact me by email if you would like to know how to get in touch with Charle's social worker.
Charles is a delightful 12-year-old boy who is sensitive, kind and creative. He loves art, Japanese animation and playing Pokemon video games. He likes to eat out and is open to eating at fast food restaurants to nice ones with seafood. He likes to drive go-carts and play video games. He is shy at first, but once he warms up he is friendly and has a good sense of humor. Charles needs a family who can spend time and have fun with him; family vacations, video games, movies, etc. Charles had a rough start in life but feels that it is important to forgive people because it doesn’t do any good to carry those feelings around and people make mistakes. He has made major changes in his behavior over the past few years and needs to have a family committed to helping him continue to become all he can be. He needs parents who will help him with his schoolwork, who will accept him as he is and show him they are proud of him.