I’m a Facebook junky. I admit it. I’m on that thing several times a day. Most of the time it is only for a few minutes, but one or two times a week I find myself sucked into the never-ending abyss of posts and friends, memes and memories, politics and opinions. At least once a week I will run across a quote or a meme or a post that says something like, “No matter how old I get, I will always want my mother when I’m sick” or “No one comes between me and my sister.” I often find myself smiling and reposting because even at 48 years old, I still need my family. It seems like a pretty universal truth . . . or, is it?
Currently in the United States, there are approximately 397,000 children in foster care—not 3,970 or 39,700 but THREE-HUNDRED NINETY-SEVEN THOUSAND children. Of those in foster care, approximately 108,000 are eligible for adoption. Let’s put this in perspective: there are more children in foster care that are waiting to be adopted than there are people in the largest city plus half of the second largest city in Wyoming.
Each day, about 1,000 students attend a typical large American middle school. Now, imagine if every one of those students were in foster care and eligible for adoption. That’s a lot of kiddos. Now, imagine eleven of those schools and all of the students in them. That is the number of children in the United States who do not have families, do not have their own people, and do not have any sort of stability. Of those 108,000 adoptable children, 32% will be shuffled around in the foster care system for three years before being adopted. Each year, more than 20,000 youth age out of foster care. That means that they will never have a mom to want when they are 48 years old and ill.
It is November. That means that for those involved in the adoption community, it is our favorite month! This is the month in which we celebrate the miracle of adoption, no matter if you are a birth parent or an adoptive parent or an adoptee or love someone who is part of that triad. The national theme for National Adoption Month 2015 is, “We Never Outgrow the Need for Family.” The focus of this year’s month of adoption is to focus on adoption of older youth currently in foster care so that they can finally have a family.
Many families who are wanting to adopt are a bit nervous about adopting an older child or a teenager. This is because many of these children have lived through traumatic experiences and have associated behavioral or medical needs. Research has shown, however, that youth can overcome traumatic childhoods if they are connected to “a strong, permanent support system”—in other words, a family.
November 2015 marks the 19th anniversary of bringing awareness to foster care and adoption. In 1976, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis set aside the first ever Adoption Week. By 1984, the movement had spread, and United States President Ronald Reagan initiated National Adoption Week. In 1995, President Bill Clinton proclaimed that the entire month of November would be National Adoption Month.
So, what can we do to spread the word and bring awareness to our thousands of youth waiting in foster care for a family? As a birth mom, I’m going to talk about my adoption experience as much as I can. I will post articles and memes and quotes about adoption on social media. I will also go to the National Adoption Month Website and use many of its features, which include:
History of National Adoption Month
Find information for adoption professionals
Hear firsthand stories of youth waiting for adoption
Peruse examples of how agencies and communities can spread the word about National Adoption Month
Find links to videos, other websites, and other information about youth in foster care who want to be adopted
I can then share this information with my friends, family, coworkers and networks.