Advocates in this field all know the horrific statistic that there are currently over 175,000 youth age 13 and older in the foster care system. And each year, almost 30,000 youth ‘age out‘ of the foster care system to devastating outcomes of homelessness, incarceration, unemployment, or substance abuse.
The current issue of Fostering Families Today includes an article titled “Choosing Teens,” about one family’s experience with adopting an older youth in foster care. Denise and Bruce Kendrick from Texas were foster parents to younger children in care for years before realizing the horrible fact that there are tens of thousand of youth who will never know what it is like to belong in a family. One day, while reviewing the local Child Protective Services (CPS) website for educational updates they read the profiles of teenagers who were in need of homes. They scrolled through page after page of older teens waiting for someone to want and love them. The Kendricks instantly knew that they wanted to adopt an older teen. They inquired about one of the profiles they read and spoke with a worker at CPS who began the process of trying connect Denise and Bruce with the teenager they fell in love with while on the website.
After starting the adoption process they received a phone call informing them that an out-of-state relative had emerged and wanted to adopt the teen. Though they were saddened they would not be able to complete the adoption, they did not lose sight of their desire to provide a family for a teen in care. Denise and Bruce soon found another teenage boy, Brandan. They were prepared for and were determined to make Brandan a part of their family. Although Brandan did suffer from attachment issues he was given the helped he needed professionally and the love he need personally.
The article closes by saying, “Brandan is finding joy in the little things these days, like a dad who knows how he likes his burger cooked, and a mom who packs his lunch. The clock is ticking toward […] a time that for teens who are never adopted brings great hardship and for many, grim outcomes. But Brandan is a teen who was chosen.”
Last month, CCAI hosted a Congressional briefing to draw attention to the need for better foster adoptive parent recruitment models to be used in the field and supported by the federal government. This article goes to show that innovative methods, such as online photolisting, is just one effective way that older youth in care can find a family to call their own.