ROCKINGHAM – November is National Adoption Month, and in North Carolina, there are more than 12,000 15–18 year olds in foster care according to statistics from the Children’s Bureau.
Most of these youth have spent many years in foster care and are seeking more permanent connections through adoption by a family or adult mentor. Supportive and committed relationships are critical in helping teens prepare and succeed as they enter adulthood. Three years is the average wait for a child in foster care to be adopted.
It is important for the community to understand the need of “forever homes” for all youth available for adoption who are currently in foster care, especially ages 15-18 years old. Permanent family connections are critical for older youth to have legal and emotional support as they transition into adulthood and strive for achievement, growth and well-being.
National Adoption Month brings awareness to the needs of children and youth seeking a “forever family”. According to the Children’s Bureau, “the most recent Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System report, over 110,000 children and youth in foster care are waiting to be adopted and close to 12,500 of them are between the ages of 15 and 17 years old.
“The stated theme from the Children’s Bureau for 2017 is —”Teens Need Families, No Matter What”— which highlights the important role child welfare agencies play in developing a targeted recruitment and response strategy for prospective adoptive parents that focuses on the needs of teens in foster care. Agencies that are intentional about actively preparing, developing, and supporting current and prospective foster and adoptive parents will be more effective at maintaining a strong pool of families who are able to adopt a teen.”
Richmond County Department of Social Services is currently working with three families for adoption and have already completed two adoptions for 2017. Richmond County currently does not have any teens in foster care that are available for adoption.
Richmond County DSS is actively seeking to recruit foster and adoptive parents, and in doing so, has set up informational booths at the libraries in Rockingham and Hamlet, and the Richmond County DSS lobby. The agency has also coordinated with ART (Area of Richmond Transit) to have the agency contact number and Adoption Awareness magnets displayed on the vans as they transport citizens.
Anyone interested in becoming a “forever home,” or who have any questions regarding becoming a foster parent or adopting, is encouraged to contact Richmond County Adoptions worker Lakwanza Brown at 910-997-8449.