Title: Children In Need of Loving Families
There are an estimated 408,000 to 500,000 children currently living in foster care in the United States due to the neglect, abuse, and abandonment from their birth parents’ or other relatives in their family. Children who enter the foster care system have a difficult time adjusting to a new different way of life given the harsh circumstances they have endured in their homes prior to entering foster care. By the age of 17 to 21 years old, children age out of the foster care system or many remain in foster care until 21 years old. Afterwards, some children don’t know where they’ll end up once they’re out of the system. Some will end back up on the street homeless, dead or incarcerated.
As of September 30, 2010, according to www.fostercaremonth.org, 59% of black children are in foster care, 53% of children have been in foster care for more than one year, 17% of children spends three years of more in the foster care system, and 28,000 is the number of youth who age out of foster care ranging from 18 to 21 years old. Out of that staggering number, only 22% of youth becomes homeless and 25% suffer post-traumatic stress disorder. African-American children who are currently living in foster care in the United States suffer extreme problems with:
- Abuse & Neglect
- Severe behavioral problems or parental problems in the household
- Illness (physical or emotional)
- Alcohol & Substance abuse
According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, African-American children make up approximately two-thirds of the foster care population and remain in care longer. Two out of three children are reunited with his/her birth parents within a two year timeframe. Furthermore, children who are in foster care will spend hours and hours waiting for adoption or other permanent arrangements (Source: www.aacap.org).
Needless to say, removing children from their home and placing them into foster care can be extremely easier said than done; and very stressful for the child to adapt to new surroundings. Nonetheless, about 30% of children living in foster care can have emotional, behavioral or developmental problems, because they’re often struggling with:
- Blaming themselves for the guilt of removal from their birth parents.
- Wishing to return to their birth parents.
- Feeling unwanted if awaiting adoption for a long time.
- Developing a tendency of feeling helpless about multiple changes in foster care over time.
- Having mixed emotions in regards to attaching themselves to their foster parents.
- Developing insecurities in relation to the future.
- Becoming reluctant to acknowledging positive feelings for their foster parents.
Thus over the past 10 years, there has been a decrease in the number of foster parents (non-relative) available to care for children. When foster parents adopt a child, there are several immense challenges which include:
- Recognizing the limits of their emotional attachment to the child.
- Understand mixed feelings towards the child’s birth parents.
- Finding support services in the community.
Different issues in regards to a child living their lives in the foster care system are very much a reality that we as adults have to face. Many children need our help to guide them, nurture them, and most of all give them a strong support system. Without any foster parents to give these children those necessary tools to survive, children will verily much slip through the cracks. How can we stand back and allow a child to suffer extreme abuse not only from their birth parents, but also from them living with foster parents? I have mentioned before young adults who age out of the foster care system when they reach 21 years old have to navigate the cold world on their own.
The numbers are alarming to say the least, because more youth and children should be adopted and surrounded by lots of affection from people who will be there to care for them every day. Instead, we turn our backs; we ignore their cries and the loneliness of these children and youth. They need us to survive. Why deny the children and youth a chance to have a better life? Why destroy their lives even more when they are adopted? It doesn’t make any sense. Adopting a child or a teenager can change everybody’s life in the process. All they’re asking for, all they’re yearning for is someone to love them and give them a better life than they had before.
When I read these different articles on foster care, I come up with the concept that these youth and children never asked to be in a hard situation. They never asked to be given up by their birth parents waiting in a foster care system for years, awaiting to be adopted, and they never asked as to be struggling on their own. If a child or a youth is adopted out of foster care into a nice decent family structure, certainly it will take some time for the child or youth to get acclimated to his/her new environment. However, the youth/child will see it in their eyes as a blessing in disguise to have a foster family to care so deeply about them. The youth will find his/her way into college, working a job and living life like there’s no tomorrow knowing he/she has a dynamic family structure along with a strong dynamic support system. A child will take to his/her foster parents’ as angels appearing to them from heaven. With definite affection, the youth/children will absolutely grow up into positive influences in society such as becoming a nurse, doctor, lawyer, police officer, etc.
Most of us who have been fortunate like myself to grow up in a steady family environment whether it be a single parent household or a two-parent household should be counting our blessings every day since we don’t have a clue what it feels like to be left in the gutter and raised among strangers. This is the reason why it sickens me to the core of my soul when I hear or see on the news regarding innocent children and youth being missing from the foster care system and weeks, days, or even months later the police finds the child dead or incarcerated. It comes to the point where these children practically give up on their lives, for the apparent reason that they get a sense that no other adult would want to bring them into their family structure.
Truth be told, many children and youths according to the latest statistics in this article are telling everyone- from the person who is single to a married couple who have not yet had children, “we need you,” “where are you?”, “I need love.” Yes adoption can be an uphill battle given the birth parents might re-enter the picture. But on the other hand, a child or youth will have the last word either to stay with their adoptive parents or go back into the arms of their abusive birth parents just to suffer yet another round of neglect and abuse.
In reality, I do not see the problem with adopting children. If I had a chance I would definitely adopt three children seeing that how blessed I was to be raised with a strong single mother. My heart bleeds for a child or even a youth for that matter, because no one wants to see them prosper and grow. Just ask yourself this question, what more can I give?
These children and youth have goals and dreams. Take Javon and Joshua ages 11 and 9 who have big dreams they want to accomplish. Javon wants to be a scientist in the field of biology, whereas, Joshua loves reading, skateboarding, and love playing outdoors. Another example, Anthony age 15 has dreams of becoming a SWAT team member when he grows up, courageously helping to rescue someone from threat or danger. Beneath Anthony’s quiet demeanor he’s a fun, courageous, and loveable teenager. The security and support of a loving family is very much important to him and what he needs the most to help him reach his full potential. Anthony will benefit from having an old sibling.
With that being said from the two prime examples I’ve given, the only thing a child is searching for is someone to call “mom” or “dad” something to call “family.” Why deny a child or a youth that chance? Again, ask yourself this question. What more can I give?