Rita Soronen, President & CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, wrote the following letter in response to the Washington Post’s editorial “The crisis in foster care” (January 11, 2020).
Our nation’s child-welfare system is being stretched far beyond its capacity as families are devastated by the opioid crisis and other issues. More than 437,000 children are in foster care in the United States, 125,000 of whom have been permanently separated from their family of origin and are waiting for someone to step forward to adopt them — a 23 percent increase since 2012.
Unresolved through policy and evidence-based, innovative practices, this problem has far-reaching impacts. Last year, nearly 20,000 youths turned 18 or 21 and aged out of care without a permanent home. With nowhere to turn for support, many are at a higher risk of negative outcomes, such as homelessness, unemployment and early parenting, all of which can happen to a child who can’t go home and simply say, “I need some help.”
Children enter foster care through no fault of their own because of abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, the myths, misperceptions and realities surrounding foster care and foster-care adoption can give many prospective parents pause. With more accurate information, real-time access to resources and a supportive network, providing a safe, loving home for children in need can be a viable and joyful option for many more families and our children in need.