May is National Foster Care Month. foster care is not something you really know about unless you are somehow connected to that world. because of that, a lot of people believe myths about foster care that just aren't true. that's what this month is for, to raise awareness, educate people about foster care & the needs that exist, and explain how you can help. it is also a time when the president recommits to helping these children.
most people want to adopt newborns, so there are many kids available for adoption through foster care that are never adopted. in South Carolina there are around 1,200 kids available for adoption in foster care. 1,200 is not a large number. i am sure there are at least 1,200 churches in our state, which means that if 1 family from each church adopted a child, there would be no waiting children in foster care in SC.
to me, that is both sad yet hopeful. sad because we as the church aren't doing this... but hopeful because it is attainable. hopeful because if a few hearts are changed, thousands of lives can be changed as well. hopeful because as more people learn about foster care, their hearts may long to adopt these waiting children. or their hearts may long to become foster parents and advocate for the reunification of families.
i don't have a personal connection to foster care other than the fact that Thomas & i are prayerfully considering becoming foster parents in the future. adoption has always been #1 on our radar, but i never considered foster care until recently. we are not at a stage in life where we are ready to be parents, but we know that it is only a few years down the road. so we are researching and praying now about adoption and through that is how we are learning more & more about foster care.
the fact of the matter is that losing someone you care about is hard. i get attached to people easily & i am terrible at goodbyes so i have always kind of thought that foster care was something i just couldn't do. but i'm finding that God is changing my heart. it will still be super hard, but families reuniting & being able to stay together is a beautiful thing. it is how the created design was meant to be. and that is a thing worth advocating for.
with foster care, reunification is always the goal. the needs of the children are priority and they may not need to be in your forever family. i know it has got to be heartbreaking to let a child go, but being a part of the reunification of a family makes it worth it. as sad as it has got to be to let a child go, it is sadder still to not help them when i can. i know not everyone is called to be a foster parent, so that is not a blanket statement, just a conviction that i have personally.
God designed families to be together. foster care and adoption only happen because there has been an upset with the created design. foster care and adoption are only needed after terrible loss, trauma, and heartbreak. therefore, adoption is sometimes the best alternative if reunification is not possible or is not the best situation for the child. but adoption is not the way it was created to be. adoption is a result of tragedy. so when you let go of a foster child and they are reunited with their birth family... that is beautiful. if adoption isn't needed, that is worth rejoicing in.
- there are upwards of 400,000 children in foster care in the United States
- there are upwards of 100,000 children available for adoption from foster care right now
- most children enter foster care around age 2
- 20% of children in foster care wait 5 years or more for adoption
- the median age of children in foster care is 8
- over 50% of children in foster care are over the age of 10
- around 70% of children in foster care have siblings in foster care
- there are not enough foster parents to foster children in the system
- there are not enough adoptive parents willing to adopt these older children
- lots of adults talk about adopting, but only around 2% actually end up adopting a child
- children age out of foster care at age 18 (or 21 in some states) with little resources & no support
- every year around 23,000 children age out of the system
pray for the children, birth families & foster families that are involved in foster care.
pray about becoming a foster parent yourself
become a safe family for children or a foster family
give or donate supplies to local organizations
stay informed about foster care
volunteer to tutor or mentor children
read about real life stories to gain a better awareness
recognize community leaders in your community
become an advocate for foster children & their families
know the statistics of your specific state & the faces of the waiting children in your state
A FEW RESOURCE WEBSITES