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.
Human trafficking is a growing concern not just in the United States but in the entire world. Often times, public perception is that slave labor is primarily a major issue in developing countries. However, the reality is there is a gradual trend in our own American backyard: an increasingly large number of foster kids being sex trafficked. Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) is the most common form of human trafficking in America and runaway and homeless youth, namely foster kids, are its primary victims.
The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 defines sex trafficking as inducing any child under the age of 18 to engage in commercial sex. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) estimates that one in six endangered runaways were likely to be sex trafficking victims in 2014. In 2013, it was one in seven.
However, no matter how harrowing these statistics may be, it is believed the actual numbers are likely worse.
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.
Throughout the United States, many children experience trauma on a daily basis. The more than 400,000 kids in foster care who have been abused or neglected all have stories of pain. They have endured trauma that, if not addressed, will have an effect on them for the rest of their lives. Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) offers a trauma course for resource parents in NJ that equips them to help foster children after traumatic experiences.
According to the Mental Health Connection of Tarrant County in Texas, 26% of children in America experience or witness a traumatic event before the age of four.
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
Family being there to support one another during hard times is nothing new. The idea of grandparents taking care of their grandchildren or aunts and uncles providing for nieces and nephews is perhaps as old as time itself. What started as a traditional practice among relatives has now evolved into a leading form of foster care.
Conventionally, kinship care has been provided without the inclusion of child welfare agencies. Instead of involving the state in family affairs, adults have taken on the responsibility of taking care of the abused and neglected children within their families. Continue reading