Over this past year, we have been writing monthly blogs about our rich history. As one of the oldest adoption agencies in Virginia, we have always dedicated our time to finding permanent adoptive homes for children of all ages throughout the state.
Founded in 1900, we have since served nearly 15,000 children and families. Healthy and strong families are the cornerstone of a thriving community.
Throughout our 120 years, a lot has changed. We had to learn to adapt through the changing times from decade to decade. Social change was very prominent during the 1960s and 1970s, and the 1980s were no different.
Like always, we adapted so we could better serve at-risk children. Adapting and innovating has been crucial so we could provide the best services we could to children who needed us the most.
Keep reading to learn more about the changes we implemented during the 1980s.
Adoption in the 1980s | Partnership with the Virginia Department of Social Services
During the 1980s, we partnered with the Virginia Department of Social Services to better serve our community.
Together, we initiated a foster care adoption program called “Partnership for Adoption.” This program focused on placing and finding permanent homes for older youth, disabled youth, and sibling groups.
Up until the 1980s, we focused heavily on infant adoption. After World War II, our country experienced The Baby Boom, and we saw more and more infants enter the system. But with the influx of immigrants during WWII and changes in society, after the 50s we began to serve more and more youth who were entering the foster care system and now needed permanent adoptive homes.
Placing older youth is something that is still extremely important and a priority for us today.
Currently, we are still partnered with the Virginia Department of Social Services. They rely on us to help place more “difficult” cases (disabled youth, older teenagers, and siblings.)
Research shows that when youth are no longer supported by the traditional foster care system, and therefore age out of foster care, they are “at-risk” for devastating outcomes:
- 1 in 4 will go to jail within 2 years.
- 1 in 5 will be homeless within 2 years.
- Fewer than 1 in 6 will graduate from high school.
- They will face higher rates of unemployment, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, domestic violence, and more.
- They will also face going back into the dysfunctional biological family that agrees to house them again because they have nowhere else to turn.
We want to lower these statistics as much as we can.
Yet, sometimes these older teens simply do not get adopted. That is why we developed our program, “My Path Forward.” This award-winning program offers housing and full wrap-around supports for youth who have aged out of foster care. It serves youth from 18 to 20 years old in an independent living arrangement and further serves youth aged 21 to 25.
Adoption in the 1980s | Recruiting Black Adoptive Families
What started in 1971, we continued placing an emphasis on recruiting black adoptive families during the eighties. Many of the youth in the foster care system at this time were black, which made the need for adoptive black families very prevalent.
In 1971 we launched the “Black Homes for Black Children” campaign, which included ad spots on local television and radio stations. In the 1980s, we ran a state-wide print campaign.
Today, 33% of Virginia’s waiting children are African American.
Adoption in the 1980s | Finding the Best Fit
We also placed even more emphasis on offering the best options to waiting children according to their wishes and our adoptive families’ wishes.
Then and now, CHS focused on identifying what the child needs and desires are‒-and what the adoptive family is looking for‒-to make the best choice. We wanted to make sure that we were meeting the individual needs of each child and family.
Adoption in the 1980s | Expanding Our Reach
We were one of the first adoption agencies to start offering free pregnancy counseling in the eighties.
There was a high number of unwanted pregnancies at this time, so we opened 10 new outreach offices in 1985, including ones in Chesterfield and Roanoke.
We opened these offices so we could be more accessible to expectant mothers. The new offices cut down on travel time and expenses. We could meet those who needed us where they were to receive the help and support they needed.
Support Virginia Adoption & Child Welfare | 120th Anniversary
The eighties were a time of huge growth for our agency. Stay tuned for October where we delve into the 1990s.
Currently, there are 1,000 children up for adoption in Virginia. And Virginia ranks last, yet again, for the rate of children aging out of foster care.
If you want more information on how to give a child in need a forever home, get in touch with us today: 804-353-0191
If you can give financially to our cause, we would be most grateful. Every dollar makes a difference in the life of a child, and no amount is too small.