According to the Children’s Law Center in California, the statistics for children in foster care are staggering. Today, there are nearly 437,000 children in foster care in the United States. California has a large percentage of that amount, with over 60,000 children in the foster care system. For children in foster care for 24 months or longer, 15% experienced five or more placements, and 44% experienced three or more placements. These alarming statistics force one to ask:
1) How do we fix the foster care system?
2). What are the reasons that the children are in foster care?
3) How other groups in the community support the foster care system?
In her article What Does Foster Care Actually Look Like? Foster/adoptive mother Heather Pietras-Gladu describes the roller coaster lifestyle of children and adults involved in the foster care system. Giving a complete picture from start to finish of a child in the foster care system, Heather describes the reasons for the child’s separation, the emotions behind being sent to various houses, and what is involved in being a foster parent to these children. The children who enter foster care will experience many different feelings.
For the child, there may be a sense of fear, grief, and anxiety. Often, the children are unable to express these feelings verbally. It takes a lot to trust someone with your thoughts, and all of these new people are strangers. However, trained foster parents help transition the child into their home.
According to Pietras-Gladu, the children in foster care are provided with, on average, “50 square feet of living space.” However, Pietras-Gladu cautions that placing children in acceptable accommodations is not always possible due to availability, legal requirements, and agency rules. It is common knowledge that the foster care system has overwhelmingly limited resources.
According to Jedidiah Thurner, the blessing is when organizations like Love Has No Limits reach out to the community. While there are various NGOs and organizations that are resources for families that need assistance, these places need help themselves. Love Has No Limits provides support to these organizations that prevent families from falling into hard times. Additionally, for the children in need of homes, Love Has No Limits helps match families with children ready for adoption and signs up potential foster families for the children in need of homes.
Who is Jedidiah Thurner?
Jedidiah Thurner is a representative for Love Has No Limits and the director with Missions. Me, an organization that empowers people around the world to make a difference in their communities. The son of missionaries, Jedidiah traveled the world with his parents throughout his childhood and lived in many different places worldwide. . Jedidiah is very passionate about working with organizations to help families thrive in their communities. Jedidiah is married to Amber, and they have four children: Aniya Charis, Daylen Justice, Cayden James, and Greyson Graham.
Love Has No Limits: The Seven Initiatives
Love Has No Limits is a collaborative movement of organizations worldwide and volunteers from Southern California uniting to provide the most remarkable display of love the city of Los Angeles has ever experienced. According to Thurner, they are to be a resource for other organizations in LA. They are not associated with one organization but have a hand in many organizations. Thurner says that “We’re not the hope. We are the help. Not the hero; we are the guide. We don’t reinvent NGOs; we don’t replace community champions; we stand beside and beneath incredible community champions to add scope and scale to sustainability.” Overall the organization seeks to have organizations do what they already do, and they just want to add support and resources to help them flourish in their community.
Thurner further explains that they send a team of volunteers to go and help out wherever they can. While having a faith-based background, Love Has No Limits does not limit itself to partnering with faith-based organizations. The seven initiatives provide the framework and push for Love Has No Limits, “uniting to provide the greatest display of love the city of Los Angeles has ever experienced.”
The Seven Initiatives
Love Has No Limits has seven initiatives outlined on their website.
Initiative 1: Transform local faith communities into service centers
Love Has No Limits wants to see faith communities partner with local neighborhoods. Together, organizations and churches will provide outreach to families in need.
Initiative 2: Abolish $47 million in medical debt across LA county
Love Has No Limits worked with various families across LA county who defaulted on life-saving procedure costs. The organization raised money to ease medical debt.
Initiative 3: Give Southern California’s most vulnerable children a safe place to call home
Love Has No Limits has a foster initiative that helps activate faith communities to identify loving families to foster and adopt hundreds of kids waiting for a home.
Initiative 4: Reach, rehabilitate, and restore LA’s inmates
This initiative will design RAC sentence reducing classes for inmates from LA. Through this initiative, inmates will be connected with their communities, and when released, they will have a better support system.
Initiative 5: Lead thousands of homeless individuals into rehabilitation programs
Partnerships within the community will help break the cycle of poverty for thousands of people and keep families from the path of homelessness.
Initiative 6: Ignite a movement of men committed to their families
Love Has No Limits has conference events and life-changing resources that will help impart wisdom to various men in LA. The goal is to help break the cycle of fatherlessness and inspire a generation of fathers and husbands. The website says that “men across LA will begin a journey that will shape generations.”
Initiative 7: Mobilize a historic team
The organization plans to mobilize 20,000 team members across America to join the team and serve the city of Los Angeles for the week of July 18th-24th, 2021. They will provide practical youth, sports, homeless and medical outreaches and then gather together on July 24th, 2021, for a big event honoring the week-long impact and celebrating a year of the Love Has No Limits organization.
While all of these initiatives are wonderful, Thurner explains that prevention needs to be addressed. Since the statistics show that foster care has a connection with homelessness and prison, the recruitment of foster care/adoptive families is one that they should revamp.
Thurner explains that the faith-based communities they worked with would work on various initiatives but know nothing about proper foster care recruitment. To help educate and provide a resource in this area for their partners, they created the Foster Initiative as a package to help recruit healthy and willing families for adoption.
The Foster Initiative
As an educator, I hear of children who go through the system and am excited when the children are placed in loving foster or adoptive homes. We receive statistics of their lives in and out of the system. The alarming statistics bring Love Has No Limits to the table to help the foster care system. Thurner explains that an overburdened foster care system can be the reason for homelessness, drugs, poverty, incarceration, prostitution, human trafficking, and injustice with children.
The statistics in Los Angles are alarming with the various rates of children who are adopted. Over the next nine months, Love Has No Limits are uniting faith communities to transform into outposts of hope for kids and foster care champions. The goal is to match healthy and equipped families with children. They wish to activate faith communities to identify loving families to foster and adopt children waiting for a home. Additionally, the organization wants to provide support for existing foster families. The overall goal is for children not to go through the five paths outlined in the video that they share on the website.
1) 40% of the children in foster care will experience homelessness.
2) 80% of prison inmates have spent time in foster care.
3) 56% of 21-year-old women who were formerly in the child welfare system are mothers.
4) 69% of teens who age out of foster care were out of work at some point last year.
5) 85% of youth who recovered in sex trafficking raids in Southern California were in the foster system.
Thurner explains that there are many children in the Los Angeles foster care system, but 700 kids want to be adopted out of those children. The goal of Love Has No Limits is to recruit healthy, willing families. Thurner’s passion for adoption comes from his parents, who are adoptive parents themselves. Thurner passionately shares about his youngest sister, who was adopted. Adoption changed his sister’s life, as well as the lives of his entire family. He speaks about the change in her life once she entered a family and how vital the support is to her well-being.
While the city actively recruits often, for Thurner, it seemed their techniques were not working. Love Has No Limits would create a package of videos of children in the foster care system, which would give them a chance to answer questions about themselves and share what they wanted in a family. Afterward, Love Has No Limits would take this package to one of 612 faith-based communities that partner with them. As an adoptive mother, I know videos like this were beneficial for me as a prospective adoptive parent. It helped me to understand bits of my son’s personality and his interests. While it may not answer all of the questions about their life or background, it gives a picture beyond the paperwork in their files.
Children in foster care come with their trauma, and attachment into the family is like a roller coaster. Thurner and I discussed how faith-based communities sometimes are “sounding the drum” of wanting families to adopt, recruiting them, and leaving them with no support. That was the first question that I addressed to him in our interview. I know that many adoptees feel that their parents were ill-equipped emotionally to adopt them in the adoption community. Many of these parents say they were “called by God” to adopt, but know nothing about the child’s culture or are uneducated about the trauma children face when in foster care.
According to Karen Purvis and Lisa Qualls in their book The Connected Child, “Different children require different things to feel safe in a family and home.” Just as there are different needs per biological child in the family, there are different needs for children adopted into the family. For Thurner, the packaging of the information is essential to get these organizations involved and better equip and support the families.
Thurner explains that the organization works with programs that provide various resources for existing foster parents. As an adoptive mother, I know that resources are needed after adoption. I was thrilled to hear Thurner share that the volunteers work in fairs that help hand out food and needed take-home resources to foster families.
According to the Love Has No Limits website, there are three different ways to impact the foster community: Share, Care, and Foster & Adopt. People can share social media posts and messages from the organization about foster and adoption. People can care by donating any talent or resource to the Safe Families for Children organization. The foster & adopt option is available for families.
The issues of Los Angeles are very complex. Each was requiring much manpower and many financial resources. I agreed with Thurner when he added that helping the foster care system would help prevent many of these issues. It would break the cycle of trauma that Pietras-Gladu speaks about. Love Has No Limits is an impressive organization that genuinely seeks to be a helping hand in the Los Angeles community. I hope that they will continue to flourish as an organization to raise awareness of the various needs of their community.Do you feel there is a hole in your heart that can only be filled by a child? We’ve helped complete 32,000+ adoptions. We would love to help you through your adoption journey. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.