“I Just Want a Family"
In the U.S., there are approximately 400,000 children in foster care. These youth have been removed from their biological families due to abuse and neglect.
Foster care is intended to be a temporary solution to a temporary problem. Agencies work very hard to reunite these families, and often time through extensive support services those efforts are successful. Yet, 25% or approximately 104,000 children in foster care are unable to be reunited with their families and are available for adoption. These children are often referred to as “modern day orphans.”
These children are often older—70% are between the ages of 11-14—many are a part of a sibling group, and the majority are of a minority race.
And they are desperately waiting.
Waiting on state adoption exchanges that photo-list children in an effort to recruit families . . .waiting for a permanent family to call their own. For approximately 26,000 of these children, they “age out” of foster care each year still waiting.
Ten years ago, when I first joined Bethany, I had the pleasure of meeting 13-year-old Danielle. She was a beautiful girl with dancing eyes and a quick smile. She had been in foster care for several years and was currently living in a residential facility—not because of her behavior, but because there was no family willing to adopt a teenage girl carrying hurt, pain, and anger.
Even at 13, aging out was a fear of Danielle’s. I’ll never forget her response to me when I asked her what kind of family she’d like to have. She said “Ms. Kim, I don’t care if they are black, white, green, or purple. I don’t care if they are young or old. They can have a lot of kids or none—I just want a family.”
Many children like Danielle need a family—NOW.
Bethany responded to that urgency by leading the charge and challenging other like-minded organizations to join us in our efforts to decrease the number of children in foster care waiting for permanent families.
We believe no child should have to face life without a family of their own. So, on May 1, 2013, the NOW (No One Without) campaign was launched to spread awareness of the needs of children in foster care—and move us to take action.
We are working diligently to remove barriers in the adoption process—and one of those barriers is distance. We believe that there is a family out there for every waiting child—regardless of their location—and it is our job to bring them together.
Families are being encouraged to consider the adoption of children outside of their home state . . . and kids who have been waiting for years finally have a place to call home.
Recently a Maryland couple was matched with a sibling group of four from Georgia through NOW’s efforts.
Families in Virginia are stepping forward to adopt children in Michigan.
Families in New York, Ohio, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Philadelphia, and Arizona have responded to the call. And this is just the beginning.
The NOW campaign was recently selected as the iCare Foundation recipient of Initials Inc. To learn more about this partnership and hear the personal adoption stories of founders Britany Vickery and Ivy Hall, check out the video here.
—Kimberly Offutt, No One Without Liaison
The views expressed in this post are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bethany.