November is National Adoption Awareness Month when those who have opened their hearts and their homes to children are honored. It’s also a time to remember that there are thousands of children who still need a permanent home and loving family.
This year, National Adoption Month focuses on the adoption of older youth currently in foster care—because “We Never Outgrow the Need for Family.” This theme calls attention to our nation’s population of older youth in foster care who need loving, permanent families. According to the Children’s Bureau, youth ages 15 to 18 make up 5 percent of the foster care population – 84,778 youth. Creating lifelong connections for these young people is critical in helping them prepare for successful adulthood.
In 2013, in Iowa alone, 4500 youth entered the foster care system and there are nearly 964 waiting to be adopted. According to Kids Count Data Center there were 2,858 11-20 year olds in foster care in Iowa in 2013. All of these kids need families to provide loving care, support as they develop, and a home to come back to as they grow into adulthood. Creating families through adoption is a wonderful way to build families and to make meaningful contributions to the lives of children and youth.
Iowa has passed legislation and implemented policies that have strengthened supports to families who have adopted children from foster care. Throughout the month, local departments of social services and adoption placement agencies across Iowa are celebrating the joys and expressing the needs of adoption.
If you are interested in adoption, contact your local county department of social services for information specific to your community and speak to families who have adopted. Consider stretching beyond what you thought was possible and consider the impact your involvement may have in the life of a child. As revealed in Iowa Department of Human Services’ press release, “Older kids don’t outgrow the need for a family. Having a permanent family changes these children’s lives, and gives them the opportunity for a safe, stable and healthy future.”
For more information about National Adoption Month visit: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/nam/about/.