AUTHOR: Jennie Cummings, LPC
AGENCY: Bethany Christian Services of Central PA
Created in 1984 by the Children’s Bureau, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Adoption Month (NAM) was first introduced to increase awareness of adoption-related issues; emphasize the need for foster and adoptive families; and honor adoptive families, adoptees, and the professionals who care for them.
The Children’s Bureau focuses their NAM messaging on teens and the need for safe foster and adoptive homes for this age group.
When a child enters foster care, the goal is to stabilize and strengthen their biological family so they can reunite as soon as it’s safe to do so. But when this isn’t possible, older children and teens need a family where they can find the safety, love, and connection they need to thrive.
According to the most recent Children’s Bureau statistics, as of September 2021, 114,000 waiting children and youth are at risk of aging out of foster care without permanent family connections.
· More than one in five children waiting to be adopted are ages 13-17
· The average age of children waiting to be adopted is 7.5 years old
· The average time in care for children waiting to be adopted is 33.7 months
· The average time in care for children waiting to be adopted after termination of parental rights is 19 months
Approximately 2,500 of those waiting children live here, in Pennsylvania, per Pennsylvania’s Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN). And nearly 400 of these waiting children can be found right now on SWAN’s Waiting Children website, AdoptPAKids.
Affiliate agencies like Bethany Christian Services are part of the SWAN umbrella and can contract with any Pennsylvania county to find foster and adoptive homes for older children and teens. Interested families can apply to become licensed to foster or adopt from foster care and provide a safe home for any of Pennsylvania’s children across the state.
All foster families at Bethany and many other affiliate agencies are dually certified for foster care and adoption, regardless of their primary intent and motivation in opening their home to children. When a child cannot safely reunite with their family, the current foster family is often considered first as an adoptive placement to maintain stability and minimize further disruption for the child. According to the Consortium for Children, over 84% of adoptions in the child welfare system are by foster parents.
Older children and teens—across Pennsylvania and across the nation—deserve safety, stability, and a place to belong.
To learn more about National Adoption Month, or adoption from foster care, visit Bethany.org/NAM.