Many of us will give thanks for family this week.
Sadly, more than one hundred thousand children awaiting adoption from the foster care system don’t have a family to be thankful for.
More than 400,000 children are in the foster care system, and about a quarter are in circumstances that will prevent them from being reunified with their family of origin. They need adoptive homes.
November is National Adoption Month, and this year’s initiative aims to find permanent parents for these 107,000 foster children. That’s a call advocates of limited government should take seriously.
Without adoption, these children will reach adulthood without a family to call their own. That will put them at greater risk of economic distress, depending on welfare, having a child outside of marriage, and being convicted of a crime.
Time is not on the side of these children. In 2003, Dr. Wade Horn, then Assistant Secretary for Children and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services, testified that after reaching age nine in foster care, a waiting child is more likely to remain in the foster care system than to be adopted.
The foster care system urgently needs reform, as Thomas Atwood, former president of the National Council for Adoption, wrote in a Heritage Backgrounder earlier this year:
Sadly, for many tens of thousands of children and youth, foster care is more like a trap door than a safety net, beneath which they languish for years in multiple placements without the loving parents and permanent family that all children need and deserve. Long-term foster care is the de facto case plan for many children. As a result, every year tens of thousands of youth age out of foster care without a family. The child welfare system as a whole, of which foster care is the largest and most costly piece, needs comprehensive reform. =? > 0%s?e year’s initiative aims to find permanent parents for these 107,000 foster children. That’s a call advocates of limited government should take seriously.
But reforming policy won’t be enough. These vulnerable children need families.
Adopting a foster child is civil society in action, a beautiful picture of conservative principles at work.
Not everyone is in a position to foster or adopt, but we can all help those who assist foster children to find homes and support the families who take them in. This holiday season, spread the word about this good work. If you know a foster or adoptive family, thank them and ask how you can help.
Consider a donation to Wait Nor More or Harvest of Hope (described below) on behalf of the more than 100,000 foster children waiting for adoption. For families, what better way to help children prize the blessing of family and consider the needs of others? For adults, how about directing the gift-giving spirit of your office, church, or other groups toward these children in need?
To learn more or to contribute directly to help foster children find homes, check out these two ministries:
Wait No More: Launched in 2008 by Focus on the Family to alert more Americans to the urgency of the need for adoption, Wait No More hosts events that gather government leaders, churches, private adoption agencies and prospective adoptive parents to provide information and opportunities to begin the adoption process on site. To date, 7,100 have attended Wait No More events, with 1,791 families initiating adoption of foster children. In Colorado, where the group is headquartered, the number of foster children waiting for adoption dropped from about 800 to 350, thanks to the efforts of Wait No More in conjunction with other ministries and agencies.
Harvest of Hope: Rev. Buster Soaries and his Somerset, NJ, congregation began their foster care work when they learned of a “boarder baby” crisis—newborns abandoned in hospitals—in their county and elsewhere in the state. The Harvest of Hope Program was created to find families for these infants. Since then, Harvest of Hope has recruited 385 foster families, placing a total of over 900 children in temporary foster care. Some 149 families have adopted 235 children. The ministry’s efforts have expanded, with Harvest of Hope now leading a statewide network of churches from which foster parents are recruited and supported as they take in children.