Help "AdoptUSKids" Get More Kids Adopted During
National Adoption Month
Did you know that 9% of the children who enter our foster care system each year will never find a family to call their very own? That’s right, out of approximately 250,000 children who enter foster care each year, twenty-two thousand of them will leave never knowing what it is like to feel the warmth and support of a hug from a parent that shares their hopes, dreams, and daily lives...for the rest of their lives. These kids will begin their larger journeys, relatively, alone and all of the federal and state financial assistance provided to them won’t make up for the loss they’ve sustained up to this point.
My heart breaks for these children. It is for this reason and the fact that November is National Adoption Month that I wanted to share with THREAD MB readers an amazing organization that is helping rectify this injustice and get kids adopted. Called AdoptUSKids (AUK), this nonprofit has helped 25,000 children become adopted since their launch in 2002, with 64% of those children falling within the toughest age bracket to place -- ages 13-19 years old. That’s a feat most everyone can marvel at, especially those parents who have raised or are, currently, raising teenage kids of their own making. Now imagine that all of the kids that AUK works to place arrive into the foster care system as a result of abuse or neglect befallen them.
These kids are innocent, the victims of being born into a violent environment in which they can’t remain. They are in foster care through no fault of their own. Together, AUK, the US Children’s Bureau and Ad Council work together to rehabilitate these kids, train prospective adoptive parents in how to parent adoptees who have been traumatized, and initiate understanding of how incredibly widespread and rapidly growing the foster care system has become.
There newest campaign - derived from the statement “You never outgrow the need for a family” - is hoping to drive more than 20,000 new families to view AUK’s online website, joining the existing one million visitors per year who already do so. From there, the goal is to educate, familiarize, and inspire these families to adopt. I, myself, was taken by the many photos of adorable children displayed on the site. Having learned, thereafter, that the children whose photos occupy space on the site have suffered the most all but killed me.
Interestingly enough, the biggest obstacle standing in the way of most families adopting these kids, according to Kathy Ledesma, MSW Principal Investigator and National Project Director for AdoptUSKids, is the fear from potential adopting parents that they, too, will let these children down. "Parents don’t need to be perfect. They just need to be loving, caring parents. That’s the most important quality that we are looking for.” Interestingly enough, most parents who adopt are empty nesters -- 45+ years and older.
The cost to adopt these children is minimal to nothing. And financial assistance from federal and state governments is provided, including subsidized medical care for the adopted children, tax credits of up to $11,000, and the recoupment of any out-of-pocket adoption expenses. The process to adopt takes anywhere from four months to eighteen months. Most children spend about a year in the system before being adopted.
Since 2002, Thirty-eight thousand families have completed the adoption process (including home studies and educational programs) and are now registered on the site. AUK is working hard to increase that number through vast promotional and educational awareness and by providing technological support to the state agencies, but much more needs to be done.
Everyone can help...and, in my opinion “should” in whatever way that we can. Talk about the issue; figure out how to lend a hand in some small or large way. I promise you that it will take less effort in doing so, today, than that which will result given you “do nothing” and leave the issue to fester through to “tomorrow.”
“It takes a village to raise a child...and we, as a nation, are that village.” Let’s behave like it, help AUK do their job, and get more kids adopted.
We will all be glad that we did!