November is National Adoption Month! We believe that every child deserves a permanent, loving home. Permanency makes all the difference in the life of a child.
National Adoption Month has been celebrated every November across the country for more than two decades. November serves as a time to educate local communities through programs, events, and activities to raise awareness about the thousands of youth currently in foster care who are waiting for their own permanent, loving family like yours.
Right now, there are more than 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. In Virginia alone, there are approximately 1,700 children in the foster care system waiting for a family of their own. Virginia’s foster care youth are from all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds and are frequently five to 14 years old and part of sibling groups.
Keep reading to learn more about National Adoption Month, Virginia’s foster care system, what happens when youth age out of foster care, waiting children, and more.
National Adoption Month | The Importance of Adopting Older Children & Teens
This year, National Adoption Month centers around the importance of adopting older children and teenagers. Adopting youth before they turn 18 is important because the outcomes for youth who age out of foster care are bleak. When youth age out of foster care:
- Only 58% graduate high school by the age of 19 compared to 87% of the general population.
- 1 in 4 are incarcerated within two years.
- 1 in 5 are homeless within two years.
- 70% of young women who age out of foster care are pregnant within two years.
Foster youth who age out of the system struggle to become independent adults.
- Less than three percent of foster youth earn a college degree by the age of 25 compared to 28% of the general population.
- At the age of 26, only 46% of youth with foster care experience are employed compared to 80% of the general population.
- The average income for youth with foster care experience at age 26 is just under $14,000 compared to $33,000 for the general population.
- Furthermore, it costs a society an average of $300,000 for each youth who ages out of foster care over the course of their lifetime.
In 2019, only 5% of adoptions were teenagers. Unfortunately, Virginia ranks 50th in the nation for the rate at which youth age out of foster care.
Virginia Department of Social Services
The Children’s Home Society of Virginia was founded in 1900 and has been serving families for more than 120 years. CHS has served nearly 16,000 Virginia children, youth, and families. Since our founding, we have always adapted so we could do what’s best for the youth in foster care.
During the 1980s, we partnered with the Virginia Department of Social Services to do just that – 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 who now needed permanent adoptive homes.
Placing older youth is something that is still extremely important for us today. We are still partnered with the Virginia Department of Social Services, and they rely heavily on us to help place youth who can be harder to place (disabled youth, older teenagers, and siblings).
Out of our pool of families in the last two years, approximately 75% had placements of preteens and teenagers.
Foster youth who age out of foster care before being adopted will face higher rates of unemployment, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, domestic violence, and more. They will also face being pulled back into the dysfunctional biological family that agrees to house them again because they have nowhere else to turn.
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 17 to 20 years old in an independent living arrangement and further serves youth between the ages of 21 and 25.
Each program participant has access to critical basics including transportation, medical and mental health services, life skills training, emergency funds and support, and essential living items. To ensure a smooth transition into independence, each youth is coached as they pursue their educational, career, and personal goals.
We are proud to say our program works!
- 100% of MPF program participants are in safe and affordable housing.
- 85% of our participants are working 20 hours or more a week.
- 66% have maintained the same job for three or more months.
- 85% have completed or made progress toward completion in vocational training.
Ideally, however, we wouldn’t need a program helping aged-out youth because no youth would be aging out of foster care. That is where you can help.
The Adoption Process For Adopting an Older Child or Teen
If you are considering adoption, you are in the right place. We dedicate our time to finding permanent adoptive parents for children of all ages throughout Virginia and to providing ongoing post-adoption counseling to maintain successful family relationships well after we have finalized an adoption. You will never be alone on your journey.
Our adoption process typically looks like this:
- Attend an orientation to learn more about the adoption process.
- Fill out a registration form.
- Finish a three-week training class to help prepare you for the special challenges of parenting a child or teen who has faced childhood trauma such as abuse or neglect.
- Complete a home study and receive approval.
- Complete the matching process with a child or teen.
- Make preliminary visits with your child.
- Welcome your child home and begin the six-month supervisory period before finalizing the adoption. The state requires six months of supervision before legal adoption. You will also receive post-placement services during this time.
Adoption is a lifelong process. Post adoption services and support are crucial for successful adoption and a great source of comfort for families who are considering adoption. Our post adoption services continue to serve adoptive families long after the adoption is complete. Typical post adoption services include support groups, therapy, counseling, and respite.
Here are some of our youth who are currently waiting for a permanent family.
Grayson has fond memories of attending a large church with lights, fog, and a loud band. When asked what Grayson wants in a family, his response was, “I really want a family. I care about God and everyone. Sometimes I lie and am dishonest, but I admit to it. I say sorry when I need to. I’m a good kid.” At the age of 14, he dreams of becoming a scientist or a crime scene investigator when he grows up. He loves Spiderman, Lil Yachty, and comic books. Grayson is into football, baseball, and basketball and loves the Seahawks, the Golden State Warriors, and the Yankees. You would put a big smile on his face if you gave him a snack of root beer and BBQ Pringles! Grayson would love to belong to a family that is active, loving, committed, fun and kind.
14-year-old Elies is into tattoos and technology! He prefers to be called “Eli” and he is in planning mode for a tattoo he hopes to get once he turns 18. He enjoys thinking about the design. Elies is pretty tech-savvy and dreams of working in the IT field when he is older. Eli wants to learn how to successfully become independent and would thrive in a family that can offer a lot of support and guidance during this time in his life. He is open to living anywhere and would be happy in the suburbs or a country-like setting, especially if there are animals around! His favorite food is pineapple pizza and he has a healthy appetite. Eli does well in a calm, quiet environment. He would thrive with a nurturing mother and calm father. He finds solace in music and nature. Like most teens his age, he would love to be a part of a family where gaming was part of everyday life. Eli enjoys connecting with others and likes to laugh even though he often comes off as a pretty serious young man.
To meet more teens who are waiting for a loving family, click here.
National Adoption Month | Adopt Today
Every teen has a story. Help support their journey.
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. The need is as urgent as ever. And please share this blog to help spread the word about National Adoption Month!