Across the county, foster parents take children in need into their homes. In some cases, these same children become a part of their families forever through adoption. New Jersey foster parent Karen Booker knows this story well.
What has made such an impact on Karen’s life was her decision to foster over 50 children, 3 of whom she has adopted. Karen touched so many lives during her 5 years of being a licensed foster parent and continues to keep her home open to children in care.
The Booker’s journey to becoming the Outstanding Adoptive Family of the Year at Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) and the Division of Child Protection and Permanency’s (DCP&P) Annual Recognition Brunch began when her biological children were getting ready to go to college. Rather than having another child, she said she decided to foster because she “knew that there were a lot of children out there who needed homes and needed love.”
The journey from foster care to adoption can be a long, trying and uncertain road. The Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) annual Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Report for 2015 found that the national average for time spent between becoming a foster child and being adopted was 31.7 months. While that may seem like a long time, it marks a noticeable improvement from 2003, when the ACF found the national average to be 44.5 months.
Spending close to two years in foster care may seem like an eternity, but the process takes this long to ensure the best for the child. Prior to 1997, states ran foster care systems in accordance with the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980. The act promoted permanency by requiring states to make reasonable efforts to prevent the removal of children from their homes, as well as reunite the children who had been removed. Continue reading
Thanks to advances in technology making DNA testing a more affordable option for many, a growing number of people across the country are now using it to trace their genealogy. While many are checking to see if royal blood runs through their veins, adoptees — from private adoption agencies and foster care alike — are using it for a much humbler cause: to find their biological parents.
The Link Between DNA Tests and Foster Care
While many may consider DNA testing as something adoptees from private adoption agencies might use, adoptees from foster care are no different. Many adults who were formerly in foster care may not remember their parents, while others may have been spared details from their adopted parents. In most cases, adopted kids want to know the same thing: where they came from. Continue reading
With the conclusion of the 2016 Olympics in Rio, many have been moved by stories of inspiration and triumph. One particular story that resonates in the foster and adoptive community is that of Olympic Gold Medalist Simone Biles. She, along with her siblings, was adopted by her grandparents in 2001 after her mother’s parental rights were terminated. Simone’s story, however, is not the average tale of a black child in foster care.
This is the reality in America: black children are less likely to be adopted when removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect.
The disproportionate percentage of black kids in foster care sheds light on a deep-rooted problem in society.
The notion of adopting a child can come with the illusion of a perfect newborn waiting to be shaped and molded into a model human being. However, the reality is many of the children waiting to be adopted from foster care are teenagers. Across the country, thousands of older kids in care are aging out every year. According to an article written by the National Conference of State Legislatures, youth who age out of foster care often have little to no support and are at a higher risk of ending up on the streets. Thankfully, there are national initiatives that support adopting older children and are working to get older kids in care forever homes.
Adopting Older Children: Why It Matters
In 2011, and according to A Family For Every Child, there was an estimate of 104,000 children in foster care who were available for adoption. Of that number, about 43,000 were in care for five years or longer.
When we are born, it is in our DNA to trust others. Inherently, the first person we trust is usually our birth mothers. We depend on them to provide us with everything we need to live. It is only when the basic needs we rely on are not fulfilled that trust issues develop. For children who are adopted from foster care, the line of trust has been broken.
In the United States, approximately 120,000 children are adopted annually. Of that number, more than one-third are adopted from foster care. For parents adopting children who were previously in foster care, challenges that were initially unknown will most likely begin to surface over the years. Continue reading