In our country, there are somewhere around 410,000 children in foster care on any given day. Roughly 110,000 of these children are available for adoption.
The average age of a waiting child is eight years old.
Each year, over 20,000-30,000 youth “age out” of foster care. Of the “aged out” group:
- 50 percent will drop out of high school
- 62 percent will be unemployed within 12-18 months
- 25 percent will be homeless within two years
- 48 percent of females will have a child within 12-18 months
- 30 percent will be arrested between the ages of 18 (when they age out) and 21
- 63 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of adoption.
- 78 percent of Americans think more should be done to encourage adoptions.
- 40 percent of Americans say they have seriously considered adoption.
- If just one of every 500 adults who said they wanted to adopt actually did, there would be no children waiting in foster care.
Something is Wrong
The truth is government systems are not, and never have been, good at raising children. Governments are not designed to be parents. Children are organically made to be a part of some sort of family unit.
We rant about the over-spending, the under-funding, the educational system, social security…I hear more negatives about government than positives. And yet, we allow them to raise children. And not just any children, these are hurt children. I could argue we are allowing governments to raise the MOST vulnerable members of our society. Damaged children, hidden behind a closed family judicial system, with little to no voice.
FEAR is not an excuse. Fear is not an acceptable reason to actively ignore any crisis situation.
At some point, we have to refuse to allow fear to hold us in the bondage of inaction. And doing anything foster-care-related can be intimidating. There are so many “what ifs…”
What if they hate me?
What if I can’t handle it?
What if they have to leave, and I am devastated?
For me, fear is just a self-preservation response to the hundreds of what-if questions I ask myself every second all day long. So, every day, I have to decide that it is not okay, fair, or acceptable for me to tell children that need assistance that my want of being emotionally comfortable is more important than their needs.
I am not saying everyone is supposed to adopt. Because I know that is not true. And if you are in that group of people I will tell you this: there are about ten dozen other ways to help.
What I am saying is there are thousands of families that could adopt, have thought about adoption, feel called to adopt, and have not. So we have children being raised in temporary homes and “aging out” and living a life without what most people take for granted…a family.
A family means (according to some of my kids):
TC (13): “Someone who likes you.”
Celee (12): “When someone keeps you even when you are mean.”
Judsen (10): “Having grown-ups tell you what to do.”
Joseph (10): “It means getting SNACKS, like popcorn.” (fist pump here)
Mia (8): “Family means people who hug you.”
Corban (6): “It is a bunch of people that are a bunch of different colors that get to play together.”
Approximately 110,000 little souls are without a family in the United States. It is overwhelming. Staggering. Catastrophic.
Luckily, It is also fixable.
Christy Irons is a mother of eight. Five were adopted from foster care, two were adopted internationally.