For many couples hoping to adopt a child, a teenager isn’t usually their first choice. Adoptive parents often seek an infant or young child. That means many adolescents currently in foster care have a longer waiting period when it comes to finding a permanent family.
Those teens will get a boost in November when the organizers of National Adoption Month focus especially on them. With help from the Ad Council, three national adoption organizations are getting the word out that plenty of teens are waiting for loving families to guide them into adulthood.
The council’s public service announcement (PSA) campaign for the Children’s Bureau, the Adoption Exchange Association and The Collaboration to AdoptUsKids uses humorous family-life vignettes to let adults know that “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent. There are thousands of teens in foster care who would love to put up with you.”
About 25 percent of kids in foster care are teenagers. Statistics from September 2004, the most recent figures available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, show that of the 118,000 U.S. children in foster care and awaiting adoption, 30,673 were teens ages 13 to 18.
The federal government’s Child Welfare Information Gateway has issued a report to Congress on the adoption challenges facing kids, particularly teens, in foster care. The report recommends continued public awareness efforts, court reforms that reduce adoption delays, and good pre- and post-adoption services for both the child and the adoptive family.
National Adoption Month also features a special highlight – National Adoption Day, Nov. 18, when judges, lawyers, adoption professionals and child-welfare advocates help finalize the adoptions of thousands of children in foster care: 3,300 in 2005 alone.
For more information on National Adoption Month, including advice for prospective adoptive parents, visit www.childwelfare.gov/adoption/nam.
– Deirdre Wilson