After the final hearing confirming his adoption, a 13 year old boy said to Liz Johnson, a social worker and “recruiter” with an adoption coalition: “I’m a real boy now. I’m not a boy in foster care anymore.”
What could be worse than spending most of your childhood in a foster care home . . . or a series of foster care homes? One thing is certain: the older a child is, the less likely that there will be a family out there willing to adopt. Most people seeking to adopt a child have an infant in mind. Older children carry "baggage," whether it's abuse/neglect in their families of origin and/or abuse/neglect within the system that seeks to care for them while attempting to find that perfect forever family.
Imagine . . . just imagine being 13 or 14 or 15 years old, having lived in foster care most of your life and feeling unable to invite a friend from school to your home because you are so different from your classmates. Imagine feeling like you are not a "real boy" because you don't have parents and your schoolmates do. Imagine feeling as though your home is but a temporary place. A sense of identity, family and permanency . . . a good self concept . . . these are keys to success that are denied to such children.
The New York Times today published a feature article about adoption, about hard to place children and about efforts to find biological relatives who would be willing to adopt teenagers related to them -- family members who had no prior knowledge that the children existed and/or were without parental caregivers.
In Michigan, there is an agency that places special needs children for adoption named Spaulding for Children. Spaulding for Children has as a sponsor the Dave Thomas Foundation for
Adoption, also known as Wendy's Wonderful Kids (see below). You may visit the Spaulding for Children website at http://spaulding.org/
Bethany is another similar agency that works often with probate courts around the state of Michigan to place children with relatives (and sometimes with unrelated persons).
The New York Times article names two organizations having a common goal of finding relative placement (if possible) for teens who have been in the foster care system too long. Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition and Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, founded by Dave Thomas, the owner of the corporation known as Wendy's Restaurants.
Should you find yourself in a position to guide clients in this direction, the agencies can provide information about adoption subsidies and incentives that can help get children out of foster care and into a forever family.
Click here to read the New York Times article A Determined Quest to Bring Adoptive Ties to Foster Teenagers for more information. Thanks to family law attorney Paula Aylward of Marshall, Michigan for calling this article to my attention.