MLJ Adoptions, Inc. believes all children deserve a loving home with families that can provide for their physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual needs. Although MLJ does not provide foster care services, we feel that it is a wonderful gift to a child in need, and are sharing the blog below in an effort to raise awareness about children in need of adoption through foster care as part of Adoption Awareness Month. Thank you Rita for your dedication to these children!
Recently, I was asked what advice I would give to someone hesitating about adopting from foster care. I have thought about that quite a bit. There are many reasons that individuals pause rather than adopt from foster care. They may be thinking: I don’t understand the child welfare system and it is too complicated to maneuver, or I think it may be too expensive to adopt, or I worry that the parents will come back, or even I believe these children are too damaged or dangerous.
At the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption we are dedicated to the mission of dramatically increasing the number of children adopted from America’s foster care system. As we raise awareness about the more than 114,000 children waiting in foster care today to be adopted, we also work to dispel the myths and misperceptions that surround the system and the children involved. For example, the child welfare system, which is charged with the safety and care for children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned, can appear to be too complex to even contemplate. But anyone taking the step to become a foster or adoptive parent has resources, training and support throughout the journey.
Families often fear that they will have to face challenges to the adoption by the birth families. In reality, when a child is freed for adoption through the child welfare system, all means of contesting the adoption have been exhausted. An adoption from foster care is final and the child is the legal and emotional responsibility of the adopted parent – as if he or she had been born to the family. Of course, if the child is older, it may be best to maintain contact with extended family, but that decision lies with the adoptive family based on what is best for the child.
We know from a national survey that a majority of American believe children are in the child welfare system because they are juvenile delinquents. Nothing could be further from the truth. Children enter the child welfare system through no fault of their own and as innocent victims of abuse, neglect or abandonment. Every child waiting to be adopted has the same aspirations, hopes, potential and dreams as any other child. They simply need a safe, permanent and loving family in which to grow and thrive. Sadly, last year more than 20,000 children turned 18 and left the foster care system without a family or a home of their own.
So, I realized that the answer to the question of what advice to give to someone thinking about adopting from foster care is to remember our founder Dave Thomas’ wise words, “These children are not someone else’s responsibility. They are our responsibility.” When children in foster care are permanently removed from their families of birth, we make what should be an unbreakable promise to them: we will find a family. And we will do it in a way that cherishes their childhood and their developmental needs so that they can grow and thrive within the birthright of every child – a safe and secure family of their own.
Take a moment and remember a time when, as a child, you were alone, or afraid or distraught because one of your favorite comfort items – a stuffed animal, a blanket, a toy – was missing. Children in foster care waiting to be adopted feel that loss in a much more profound way each and every day. Contemplating the challenges of foster care adoption is made a bit easier when we see the act of adoption, of forming a forever family, through the soulful eyes of a waiting child. Adopting from foster care simply is the right thing to do.
For more information about adopting from foster care or to get a free copy of “A Child is Waiting: A Step-By-Step Guide to Adoption” call the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption at 800-ASK-DTFA or go online at www.davethomasfoundation.org.
MLJ Adoptions, Inc. does not necessarily agree with or endorse all views presented here, or with all views of the Dave Thomas Foundation generally.