By Alex Temblador
November 21st is National Adoption Day, a day that brings awareness to the thousands of children that are currently waiting in the foster care system for a home. Across the country, hundreds of families are being formed, new parents are signing legal papers to bring their children home, and kids are radiating with joy at the thought of having a family to call their own. 4,500 children were adopted on National Adoption Day last year alone and 54,500 children total have been adopted thanks to this day in the last 15 years.
To celebrate National Adoption Day, we thought we’d share some foster care adoption facts with you so that if you’ve ever thought of adoption, perhaps you might take the leap toward celebrating National Adoption Day next year in true family forming style!
- There’s an estimated number of 100,000 children in foster care who need to be adopted. And did you know that 1 in 5 Americans have thought about adoption? That is 47 million Americans who have considered adopting from foster care! So, yes, there are definitely enough potential parents for every single child in the foster care system.
- You don’t have to be married to be an adoptive parent. Your disability, race, income, sexual orientation, and gender identity does not prevent you from adopting from the foster care system. (Mississippi is currently the only state in the U.S. that prevents LGBT couples from adopting). And here’s a secret: you don’t have to be perfect, no parent is and that’s what makes them great.
- Children in the foster care system are not “damaged” or “bad kids.” They just need a loving home with a family that will nurture them and give them the care they deserve. Many of these children have suffered from neglect, abuse, or abandonment and integrate, improve, and grow well with a little love. Would you call Eddie Murphy, Ice T, Kristen Chenoweth, Dave Thomas (founder and CEO of Wendy’s), Babe Ruth, John Lennon, and Steve Jobs “damaged” or “delinquents”? I don’t think so!
- Only one-third of children in the foster care system have a disability and sometimes those disabilities are as small as a cleft lip or a slight speech impediment. Having said that, children with disabilities can have the same life and successes as any other children with parents that show them that anything is possible. Additionally, the foster care system and state agencies provide assistance in the form of finances, classes, education, and therapy to many foster children with disabilities, so understand that you will have help if you choose to bring a foster care child with disabilities into your family.
On the other hand, some prospective parents think that the term, “special needs,” means that a foster child has a disability. This just might mean they have siblings in the system or are an older child and has had more difficulty being adopted.
It’s oftentimes children with disabilities or special needs that bring so much joy to parents. Just check out the wonderful things that these lesbian moms say about the child with autism that they’re foster adopting and the immense positive change he has brought to their family.
- Why not just cut the cost of an adoption to virtually nothing by adopting from the foster care system? The average cost is only $2,500 and many states cover up to $2,000. Many companies and government agencies provide financial assistance to prospective parents who want to adopt from the foster care system and many agencies won’t even charge you for adopting from foster care. There’s tax deductions after adoption, monthly financial assistance, and even grants available for those interested in adopting.
Cost wise, adopting a child from the foster care system is less costly than the doctors and hospital bills associated with having a baby, which range from $9,000 to $250,000.
- Some prospective parents might say, “I wouldn’t know how to raise a teenager that I adopted from the foster care system,” or, “How could I possibly relate to a child that is of a different ethnicity than me?”
True, both situations will have their own struggles, but having a child in any instance will bring worries, questions, and fears. Just because you aren’t the same race or ethnicity as a foster care child doesn’t mean that you can’t provide them with the cultural knowledge and attention that they need. Like any other parent, you research, you ask others questions, you eventually figure it out.
As for raising an older child, understand that that child might have been in the foster care system for years and wants a family just as badly as a child that’s four.
Worries are great to have, but parenting is always something that comes with its own challenges. As long as you are willing to try, you are willing to give a foster care child a chance at a brighter future.
- Foster parents who adopt are heroes.
Though it may not be a fact in the traditional sense, for our purposes, it is a fact. To knowingly bring a child into your home and provide them with a family that they deserve is heroism by our definition.
If we think you are a hero, imagine what that foster child that you adopt will think.
Featured Photo by Krista Guenin