Posted on January 21, 2014

1. You find the system is frustrating, difficult to understand, and seemingly unresponsive to children’s needs.

Many of you shared something similar to these challenges:

“I hope that the system gets easier. A close friend has fostered 2 young children for 2 years and hopes to adopt – ages <1yr & 3yrs. They are the only true parents these children have ever known. The court system just keeps giving the birth parents (the father tried to kill one of the children – court documented) another chance even though the birth parents never visit, rarely call, live transiently, don’t come to court, and are not able to hold down jobs. This is why the foster system is frustrating!”

“My husband and I started the process almost three years ago. We are very frustrated with the foster care system. I just turned 42 and James is 52. We’ve been together 25 years – no children together though. We have a completed and approved home study and we are having the most difficult time getting matched. I can see if we were turning children away but we are not. We are very open to any gender, nationality, and age range from infant to 12 years old. And, with as many children in the system as everyone keeps saying, we still can’t seem to be matched. Definitely something wrong!!!!!”

Too often it feels like we give parents too many chances to get their children back, — at the risk of them lingering in foster care. Judges will always adhere to the law when it comes to parental rights, but frequently a child’s best interests get lost in the mire of legal procedures.

It is critical that every child involved in the child welfare system has dedicated advocates – from a CASA/guardian ad litem, whose sole responsibility is to protect a child’s best interests, to the assigned caseworkers, foster parents and the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter, if one is assigned.

Foster parents must be involved in the process and have every right to attend court hearings. It is important to push for a dynamic and open relationship with the child’s caseworker – an easy flow of information about how the child is adjusting, doing in school, responding to parent visits, etc. It not only helps the caseworker be a strong advocate for the child, but assures that the court receives full and accurate information to determine the best place for the child.

At the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption nothing makes us more upset than when we hear qualified and excited potential adoptive parents are either ignored or not considered for children waiting to be adopted. That’s part of the reason we created Wendy’s Wonderful Kids. By funding adoption professionals in organizations in all 50 states and D.C., we have an “army” of advocates working diligently to match children with families. Please contact us for a recruiter in your state and we will get you connected! You can also see a list on our website.

2. You are concerned about international adoption versus domestic adoption from foster care.

“In my opinion, I think it is wrong for people in this country to adopt children from foreign countries when we have thousands of children in the USA that need homes. Let’s take care of our own first.”

The mission of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is to dramatically increase the adoptions of children from North America’s foster care systems. We work every day to put in place evidence-based awareness and practice programs that aggressively move children out of foster care and into adoptive homes, and are singularly focused on those children most at risk of aging out of care – older youth, children in sibling groups, children with mental or physical challenges and children of diversity.

We are honored to be working on behalf of more than 100,000 children waiting to be adopted in the United States. But we are also keenly aware of the millions of orphans worldwide who are innocent victims of war, violence, famine, AIDS, poverty or neglect. We celebrate any adult who steps up and takes responsibility for a child without a family, regardless of the borders that define that child.

3. You are wise, compassionate and want to make a difference in the lives of children.

We were incredibly moved by the responses of strangers to this young person:

YT: “I’m 17 years old and when I was in foster care I was always afraid that if I go to someone other than family they would put me out as soon as I turn 18 or that nobody would want me or my sister who is 15. I thought they would not want us because we both aren’t the healthiest children. I have neurological issues which makes me learn a little different; my little sister has a circulation issue in her legs, something wrong with her blood, and a heart murmur. We are back with our mother now but I can’t help but wonder would things be different if we weren’t … My question is who would adopt us with all these issues? And when we are considered grown will they abandon us?”

SE: “Hi YT. I hesitate to post this because I know a stranger posting on the internet may not mean much. I can’t answer your question exactly but I can tell you how I feel – I am currently in the process of getting approved to be a foster parent. Without knowing you or your sister or your situation at all, I feel pretty confident saying just this: Someone like me would adopt someone like you.I don’t want only ‘healthy’ children or a healthy family because to be honest, there is no such thing. I have my own health issues, and so does everyone else in my family. Some more severe than others, some are physical, some are neurological, and yours may be different, but they all exist. I’m watching my family age and change and so often it seems to change only in areas of loss – people get older, people move away, families argue and split up … but I realized it could also change for better, and by adding people. I have extra rooms and I hope I would have something to give to someone like you and at the same time, I believe someone like you has something that I value as well – I think friendship, family, and love don’t depend on perfect health and are even more needed. So what my overly long answer isn’t saying very clearly is that yes, I do believe those people exist. Though I’m glad your mom is doing better.”

There are no “unadoptable” children.– Every child deserves a family and a home. And they deserve the lifelong commitment that family brings – at age 2, 12, 20 and beyond. Our bodies are imperfect, but our spirits demand the love, compassion and acceptance that only a family can provide.

With our movement into a new year, the board and staff of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption are even more committed to driving a national conversation and indefatigable action to assure that every child has a family and a home, and that no child wonders where they belong.


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