This is the second of a four part series on what it means when we say we are aiming for more than enough before, during and beyond foster care in every county in the country. Here’s a quick review the four facets of more than enough…
- More than enough foster and kinship families for every child to have an ideal placement (last week’s post)
- More than enough adoptive families for every child waiting for adoption (this week’s post)
- More than enough help for biological families trying to stabilize and reunify
- More than enough wrap-around support from the church for foster, kinship, adoptive and biological families
When you make a phone call and are greeted with the words “your call is important to us,” there are a few things you know to be true:
- You are on hold
- There’s a good chance the last 45 minutes of your day was better than your next 45 minutes is going to be.
- You are going to get the opportunity to listen to some music. It might be something you’ve never heard before, but there’s a REALLY good chance it is this music. (If you are curious to know why it is usually this particular music, you should listen to the strangely entertaining Act 1 of Episode 516 of the This American Life podcast . . . after you finish reading this post, of course).
A lot of scientific effort has gone into figuring out how to make our time waiting seem shorter than it actually is. Hold music is one example. We know, for instance, that jazz will keep you on the phone longer than classical music. There is even an association called the Experience Marketing Association (formerly called the On Hold Messaging Association) for folks that specialize in, well … making people wait. I decided NOT to try and call them for comment.
I think we can all agree that waiting is normal and appropriate for a lot of things. There is really no way around it. But then there are things it seems, that people shouldn’t have to wait extended amounts of time for. Getting a family is one of them.
It is well known that there are many children waiting for adoption. But how long have they been waiting? According to the latest national available data from Kids Count…
- 14% of children have been waiting less than 12 months
- 33% have been waiting between 12 and 33 months
- 25% have been waiting between 24 and 35 months
- 18% have been waiting between 3 and 4 years
- 10% have been waiting longer than 5 years
*Time waiting = subtracting date of child’s most recent entry into foster care from the date of the end of the fiscal year.
To summarize the seriousness of the current reality, 53% of children whose parental rights have been terminated and have a stated case goal of adoption have been waiting longer than two years in foster care.
When there are not enough adoptive families, the eventual outcome is that children age out of the system. According to ChildrensRights.org, more than 17,000 aged of of foster care in 2017. They noted, “Research has shown that those who leave care without being linked to forever families have a higher likelihood than youth in the general population to experience homelessness, unemployment and incarceration as adults.”
People often ask what we can do about the problem of such large numbers of young people aging out of the system each year. And while there are some amazing programs out there for youth that have aged out, my answer is always the same: If you really want to address the problem of youth aging out of foster care at 18 or 21, then we have to do what it takes to make sure they have a loving adoptive family when they are 11. When the churches in your county start providing more than enough adoptive homes for every child who needs one, your county will no longer have an aging out problem.
So what would it look like to have more than enough adoptive families for every child who needs one in the county where you live? Well, as we’ve mentioned before in an earlier post, it would look a lot like what private infant adoption looks like currently — hundreds of people waiting up to two or more years to be matched with a child. Keep in mind, this wait would not be due to system inefficiencies but rather due to the reality that so many people would desire to provide permanent families for older children, children with special needs, children exposed to drugs and alcohol, and children that have been abused that child welfare professionals would have the same luxury as private infant adoption workers to consider several families and make the ideal match. Even now in some places, those seeking to adopt children under 6 years old are told that it may be a very long wait. That is GREAT!
Yes, you read that correctly. In the very near future, I want to see frustrated followers of Christ having to wait long periods of time to adopt 15-year-olds diagnosed with autism. That is what more than enough looks like – waiting adults instead of waiting children. But it’s O.K. — we’re adults . . . we can take it. And when we struggle, I’ve heard jazz can help.
NOTE: If you believe that more than enough before, during, and beyond foster care is possible in your county, be sure to sign the MORE THAN ENOUGH declaration at MoreThanEnoughTogether.org. More Than Enough is a collaborative movement facilitated by the CAFO community.
This post originally appeared in our Foster Roster e-newsletter which is delivered each Friday. We keep it short and sweet and fill it with practical articles, videos, blog posts and other tools for leaders like you working to help kids and families in foster care. To sign up, go to http://bit.ly/1rwn6eO.