As November fades away and December gets started, we reflect on the focus of this year’s National Adoption Month and why it is crucial to increase the number of teens adopted out of foster care.
National Adoption Month is an initiative of the Children’s Bureau that strives to bring attention and awareness to the need for permanent families for children and youth in the U.S. foster system.
It has been celebrated every November since 1995, when President Clinton expanded the initiative from “National Adoption Week” to “National Adoption Month.” Over the past two decades, National Adoption Month has been promoted in communities across the country.
Programs and events put on by local, state and national agencies—or other foster/adoptive family groups—help spread the word and raise awareness for children and youth awaiting adoption.
This year, the initiative focused on teenagers in foster care. “Teens Need Families, No Matter What” was the 2017 theme, highlighting the importance of stable support systems for the thousands of teens in foster care. Here are three reasons why an adoptive family is crucial for adolescents as they enter adulthood and strive to become healthy, happy and productive individuals:
1) Aging out of the Foster Care System
In many states, kids age out of foster care when they turn 18-years-old. Sadly, many of these kids will find themselves living alone, without support, guidance and the resources to take care of themselves in adult life. More than 23,000 teens age out of the US foster care system each year.
Without the support of a stable family, it is not uncommon for kids who have aged out of the foster care system to experience homelessness, drop out of school, get involved in crime or become parents before they are prepared.
Statistics shared by the National Foster Youth Institute (NFYI) state that seven out of ten girls who age out of foster care will become pregnant before age 21, and nearly 60 percent of young men who have aged out of foster care or are legally emancipated will be convicted of a crime.
The NFYI shares a list of these statistics and advocates for helping kids reach success as they grow into adults. For more information, you can read about the initiative Success Beyond 18 and what is being done to solve this issue.
2) Stable Emotional Support System Beyond Childhood
Research has shown that the adolescent brain continues to develop during the late teen years. Stable families are extremely important in those first few years of adulthood, during which teens are still mentally developing, seeking to establish themselves, building connections and accomplishing important life tasks. Older youth adopted into stable, permanent and loving families are more likely to be emotionally secure and connected.
For teens who were taken from their parents due to extreme abuse or other traumatic events, a stable family throughout the teen years can be crucial for emotional healing. Sadly, of those who age out of the foster care system, approximately 25 percent continue to suffer from the direct effects of PTSD.
3) Educational Structure and Opportunities
A strong support system at home can make all the difference in a child’s educational development, employment and future productivity. Unfortunately, many kids who age out of the foster care system don’t finish high school and are extremely unlikely to earn a degree.
About one in four kids who age out of the system will not graduate from high school or be able to pass their GED. Furthermore, there is a less than three percent chance for children who have aged out of foster care to earn a degree at any point in their life.
Education is important for all, but it is especially important for young adults who need the structure and opportunities it can provide. Foster children coming from parents who did not finish high school or pursue college educations likely need more guidance and feedback when it comes to their educational future.
Awareness and Resources
For the second year in a row, teens were the focus of National Adoption Month. That being said, every adopting family is different. While teen adoption may be right for some, other adoption methods—like embryo adoption—are right for others.
To learn more about your adoption options, reach out to the National Registry for Adoption.
Mackenzie Martin is a content writer who loves to see her client’s Google search rankings grow. As a writer by day and an author by night, she has an undying love for well-crafted copy and the impact it can have. Connect with her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Image Credits: Unsplash