Tristan turned 16 this month! I cannot believe she is already 16... it just doesn't seem real. And John's birthday is coming up next week.
BUT there is still something missing. I have felt a calling for sometime now and I didn't know what to do with it. I have a certain group of children who have been heavy on my heart for a while. They are known by many as the unadoptables. They are older children in our foster care system who will likely age out never having a mother or father. They will never know the unconditional love of family. I cry for these children almost every single day. It's obvious that God is calling me to do something but I have had a hard time figuring out what. So for months I have been praying and thinking about it. I think it has been since the day I heard of Davion Only, the 15 year old boy who walked into a church and asked for someone, anyone to adopt him. He said, "Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don’t care.” That. Breaks. My. Heart. I finally have a long term plan but it's something that will take a lot of time and energy which are in short supply these days. So for the short term I am planning to volunteer at a local group home that houses older girls. I can mentor, tutor or just be there for these girls letting them know that they are loved. It's a step in the right direction.
One day I hope to adopt an older child myself. When I tell people they usually have the same response. "Are you sure? Those kids have a lot of baggage." These kids have been through a lot and they may have some baggage but who doesn't? Most of these kids are just missing the basic need of love. They just need to know that someone will be there no matter what. I can't tell you how many horror stories I was told while we were waiting to adopt a baby. There's always risk. The best things in life usually take a leap of faith. To me: This is the face adoption. This is how good it can be!
|My sweet boy!|
If you are called to help these children, the below is an excerpt from a great article that was published in the Washington Post. My wish is that one day there will be no more "unadoptables."
For teens in foster care, adoption is a lifeline
“I’ll take anyone,” said Davion Only, a 15-year-old boy who had been in foster care his whole life, before a Florida congregation in October. “Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don’t care.” The story went viral, and Davion’s plea for a family drew thousands of responses.
But tens of thousands of other teens need families in the United States. In the District, nearly 300 of the 1,150 children in foster care await adoption. Of those, 100 are older than 12.
When we think about adoption, we rarely think of older children. Teenagers are challenging in their own right — sometimes defiant, sullen and self-absorbed — and the perception of teenagers in foster care is that they are irredeemably troubled. But these children can be just as delightful, resilient and rewarding to parent as are younger children. More important, they can just as fully benefit from the emotional and financial stability a family offers, and they are just as much — or even more — in need of loving homes.
Every year, more than 27,000 of the 400,000 children in U.S. foster care enter adulthood without the love and support of a permanent family. In most states, the cutoff age is 18, though it’s 21 in some, including in the District. The odds are stacked against these young adults when they age out of the system.
For young people without families, a lack of stability and support can lead to difficulty in holding a job, finishing school and achieving financial self-sufficiency. They are likely to struggle with unemployment, incarceration, homelessness and poverty.
According to a 2011 three-state study of young adults who aged out of care in the Midwest, by age 24:
●Nearly a quarter did not have a high school diploma or GED. Only 6 percent finished a two- to four-year college.
●More than a third had been homeless or “couch-surfed” at others’ homes — often for at least a month.
●75 percent of women and 33 percent of men had received public assistance to meet basic needs in the preceding year.
●More than half were not working.
●Nearly 60 percent of the men had been convicted of a crime.
Most of us have the luxury of a gradual transition to adulthood. But imagine having no one invested in your future. Imagine, at 18, having to make it on your own with no backup. Imagine suddenly being responsible for your own housing, health care and life decisions with little guidance. Imagine trying to scrape resources together to attend college and having nowhere to go during breaks.
One young man who aged out of foster care at 18 in Iowa described it this way: “All the support systems go away; without the security of family, many people fall by the wayside.” Having families can radically change outcomes for these kids.
With his appeal, Davion may have done more than possibly find himself a permanent family. By putting a human face on the plight of older children in foster care, he may have opened hearts and minds to the possibility of adopting older children.
Most children who are adopted are younger than 10 — as if, as the young man from Iowa put it, “there’s an age limit on love.” But getting more older children into permanent homes can dramatically change their lives and greatly improve their odds of success.
Susan Punnett is the executive director of the Family & Youth Initiative (DCFYI), which helps teenagers in foster care find adoptive families. Erica Rosenberg is a D.C. writer and adoptive parent.