Have you ever thought about adoption, but are not sure it’s the right choice for you or your family? You’re far from alone; 81.5 million Americans have considered adoption. Becoming a child’s legal guardian is a significant commitment, but it’s also an opportunity to provide vital love and support to one of the 100,000 children in foster care waiting for a family.
The foster care system provides an indispensable refuge for children from unsafe homes, abusive parents, and other unhealthy environments. But foster care isn’t meant to be a permanent place for these children.
Unfortunately, there are a number of common myths and inaccuracies that can make the prospect of foster care adoption more intimidating than it should be for some people who could provide wonderful homes to deserving children.
For instance, nearly half of Americans incorrectly believe that children end up in foster care because of their own juvenile delinquency. The fact is that children enter the system due to parental abuse or neglect, not through any fault of their own.
The good news is that there’s a role each of us can play in helping every child feel safe, cared for and loved. We can start by taking the time to educate ourselves on foster care adoption, and to understand that all children, no matter their age or background, truly are adoptable.
We can make sure people understand that children in foster care are adopted by all types of parents, into all types of families. Almost one in four adopted children live with a parent 55 years or older and 28 percent of adoptive children live in single parent homes. It doesn’t matter if those parents already have children, or have never had children. What matters is their willingness to commit to parenthood.
Foster care adoption is not expensive. In fact, foster care adoption is free in most cases because the children are in the custody of the state. As we all know, the expense is in raising the child, but often times financial assistance can be provided post-adoption.
Almost half of people considering foster care adoption incorrectly believe that a child’s biological parent can regain custody once he or she has been adopted, so we can spread the word that adoptive parents have the same rights and responsibilities as parents whose children were born to them. This also means children who have been adopted have all the emotional, social, legal, and familial benefits of biological children.
These boys and girls aren’t unadoptable, they just aren’t adopted – waiting for a family to welcome them into their homes. Some children waiting in foster care are infants. Other children are teenagers, and have been waiting for years to find someone to hug them and help them with their homework at night.
Whatever their age, these children need devoted individuals in their lives who are willing to meet the challenges of parenting and are willing to make a lifetime commitment to caring for and nurturing them.
Every one of us can work to correct misperceptions that our friends, family and community members may have about foster care adoption, to help dispel the myth that some children are too troublesome to deserve a family.
And if you happen to be one of the 81.5 million individuals or couples who has ever considered adoption, I encourage you consider it again, and to learn more about foster care adoption and whether you might make a good fit for a child’s needs. Because if just 1 out of every 500 adults who has considered adoption made the commitment to becoming an adoptive parent, every child currently waiting for a permanent home would have one.
To learn more about foster care adoption visit davethomasfoundation.org.