Saturday, November 8, 2008

November: National Adoption Awareness Month

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, November is National Adoption Awareness Month. This year as every year they are highlighting the need for people to adopt children out of the foster care system. Their main focus for this November is teenagers; did you know that teenagers often leave the foster system before they officially age out at 18? I didn't. (And who stops needing parents when they turn 18 anyway? I am now 30 and still look to my parents for help, advice and example.)

A friend of mine over at Seattle Metblogs reminded me of an organization that a fellow "Sauna Sitter" had brought to my attention last week. He was talking about the urban youth of Seattle and how his church helps once a month with meals for them and how he and his wife were thinking of adopting a teenager. His own children are out of the nest and yet, they are not nearly at the age of retirement, and they have a desire to help a teenager and the parenting experience to do a good job with it. I was impressed; and wanted to find out more about New Horizons.

The need for New Horizons is a direct result of children leaving a system that even in its best, most sincere efforts, fails to meet the needs of some adolescents. These kids need homes and not homes where they feel like they are being temporarily cared for, but permanent homes that will be there for them long after they are considered an adult; a home where their children will find proud Grandparents. Family is a need that goes beyond age. And the loss of family leads adolescents to the street.

"The common denominator among homeless runaway adolescents is neither economics nor ethnicity. Runaway youth come from every socio-economic group in America. They are a segment of the urban youth population.

In our experience, the most prevalent cause of the street youth phenomenon is their shared family history of abuse and dysfunction. Street youth run from a bad situation, not to the street. The street is one result of multiple failures by a social service system that is not equipped to meet the needs of this population and family systems that are not set up to foster healthy developmental growth."- New Horizons Ministry

Not only do we need to find a way to get these kids to re-enter mainstream society and contribute to our world, we need to find a way to prevent them from getting there in the first place. More Foster Parents are needed, and more Adoptive Parents are needed. People who have had children and people who've never had children can be wonderful parents to a Teenager in crisis. They need a family, and there are social services available to help with counseling and other issues. I am going to ask my Pastor about getting involved with New Horizon, and see if our church can get into the mix to help teens. What could you do to help a Teen in need? Could you Adopt a Teenager?

"You don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent. There are thousands of teens in foster care who would love to put up with you."-AdCouncil

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