November is National Adoption Month. During this month, organizations like FosterAdopt Connect strive to bring awareness to the issues facing the children who wait for adoption, and celebrating with the incredible families formed by adoption.
More than 100,000 children in the United States are currently waiting in foster care for someone to adopt them. You might recall four years ago, the story of the young man who stood up in a Florida church and told the congregation he wanted someone to adopt him. The heartbreaking reality that this young man had to stand up publicly and pour his heart out to plead for a family caught the attention and broke the hearts of many Americans. Davion Only and the children like him are fed, clothed, sheltered, cared for and educated in a foster care system that exists to be sure that children’s needs are met. And yet, Davion wanted, needed, and was determined to find a family who would make that personal commitment to him, removing him from the rolls of the foster children in his state.
Why? Why is adoption so important to Davion and the thousands of children like him?
For Children adopted from foster care, adoption provides:
- The love and support of adoptive parents who are emotionally equipped to parent, and who have benefitted from participation in training classes designed to help them develop the skills necessary to understand and address any special needs that a child may present.
- A positive and encouraging home environment and family life, which is freely given to a child no matter what he may do, or say, or how he may act, so that the child can begin to understand that he deserves to be supported like any other child, and he has something important to offer to the world around him.
- Physical resources and provisions that might not otherwise be financially possible, including access to educational assistance, medical care, mental health treatment and care, opportunities to develop skills and talents, opportunities to explore the world around them and discover the beauty of enriching life experiences (like art, theater and travel).
- A greater chance for a good education and opportunity to attend college.
- The sense of belonging and connection to real people (adoptive parents and siblings), who through their commitment, demonstrate daily that the child is loveable, valuable, and important.
Outcomes also improve dramatically for children adopted from foster care, as compared to children who remained in the foster care system (Barth and Lloyd, 2011):
- Educational progress improves by 50%
- Referred half as often to special education services
- 21% less likely to be suspended or expelled
- 23% more likely to complete a GED or high school education
- 4% more likely to report being healthy
- 20% less likely to be a teen parent
- 15% less likely to use and/or abuse alcohol and other drugs
- 200% more likely to receive mental health services (adoptive parents may expect that problems will occur, or be more able to advocate for a child to receive services)
- 50% less likely to be arrested
- 32% less likely to be incarcerated
- 22% more likely to be working
- 24% less likely to be unemployed
In 2012, FosterAdopt Connect borrowed the Extreme Recruitment (ER) Program, created by the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition of St. Louis, and brought it to Kansas City where our headquarters is located. In 2014, we expanded the program to our Southwest Missouri location in Springfield, Missouri. This innovative program utilizes individualized family finding, with the assistance of a private investigator, in order to track down hundreds of members of a child’s biological family and extended kinship network in order to identify adoptive resources who have a relationship with and connection to the child. This program is highly successful in securing adoptive homes for youth like Davion. In 2016 in our Kansas City program alone, 49 youth were served through ER. 48 of those youth were reconnected with safe and appropriate relatives and kin, and 44 of them were matched with an adoptive resource. The children we serve through ER are like Davion Only. They are older, have been in foster care way too long, and have experienced as much trauma in the foster care system as they had before they left their birth homes. For Davion Only, like the kids served by ER, ultimately, it was through his own network of ‘kin’, the people who had grown to know and love him the most, that a former social worker and her family stepped forward to adopt him from foster care.
For Davion Only and the children like him, it is fitting that we celebrate adoption by devoting a whole month every year to learning about and promoting the idea of adoption, especially for children who wait in foster care. This month, we challenge you to take the time to speak to people at work or in your community about adoption from foster care. Post links on your social media pages to information about adoption from foster care. Celebrate with the families you know who have adopted children and join in local ‘National Adoption Day’ celebrations where you live and bear witness to the amazing adoptive families finalizing their commitment to each other on that day.
FosterAdopt Connect invites you to take a look at the children we are currently working to find Forever Families for through our Extreme Recruitment program by visiting: https://www.fosteradopt.org/independence-mo/extreme-recruitment-gallery/ or https://www.fosteradopt.org/southwest-mo/extreme-recruitment-gallery/
Lori Ross, President and CEO
18600 E 37th Terrace S.
Independence, MO 64057
827 North Walker St.
Olathe, KS 66061
Southwest Missouri Center
509 S. Cavalier
Springfield, MO 65802
Northwest Missouri Center
211 East 3rd
Cameron, MO 64429