3 Ways that You Can Uplift Youth in Foster Care and Adoptees
November is National Adoption Month, and this year’s theme is “Youth Voices: Why Family Matters.” While the history of this month has always focused on spreading awareness about adoption and advocating for permanent homes for children in foster care, this year, we’d like to take it a step further.
A strong foundation for success begins at home. But, as you may already know, older children —especially teenagers — in foster care are less likely to be adopted and more likely than their peers to age out of the system with few, if any, supportive connections. Without a helping hand, many of them struggle to reach their full potential.
We know that foster care and adoption might not be right for you. That’s okay. You don’t have to go out and make an adoption plan as soon as you’re done reading this article. But, even if you don’t have a close connection to adoption or if you’re only just now considering your options for building a family, there are countless ways that you can make an impact. Every voice matters. So why not use yours to make a difference?
Here are three tangible ways that you can uplift adoptees, reach out to youth in foster care and participate in this year’s National Adoption Month.
Foster a Lifelong Connection
A majority of children in foster care still have parents or other family members. For them, foster care is intended as a temporary solution to a difficult situation. This means that one day, if the proper steps are taken, they can finally be reunited with their biological family. On the other hand, there are children whose only hope of a permanent home is through adoption. While adopting a child from foster care is an amazing opportunity — and we certainly encourage you to consider it! — there are a number of other ways that you can help if you’re not ready to be a parent just yet.
For instance, you might consider becoming a mentor or a tutor for a child in foster care. You can find local mentoring opportunities in your area through a foster care organization, or you can reach out to some great programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters and Foster Care to Success. If you’d like to help support reunification, become a respite care provider. You could provide the temporary relief that parents or caregivers in need of support are looking for. If you’re looking for more ideas, reach out to a local foster care organization. You can offer to donate needed materials (like school supplies), start a fundraiser or donate your time in other ways.
There are tons of opportunities to help, so don’t be afraid to get creative!
Create a Safe Space
Your support means the world to a child. It’s also the key to their future successes and well‐being. But, more often than not, it’s hard for a child to know when they can — and should — reach out for help. That’s why it’s up to you to take the initiative. If it’s been some time since their adoption, use this month as an opportunity to open up a conversation about adoption. Your child might have a new perspective that you haven’t heard yet or a story that they’re ready to discuss.
If you’ve adopted a child from foster care or if you’ve recently became a mentor, it may be harder to get a child to be comfortable talking. But, it’s not impossible. Remind them that your door is always open when and if they need someone to talk to. It will take some time, but you can create the environment that they need to thrive in.
We know it’s hard, but try not to get discouraged if you don’t see change as quickly as you hoped. No matter how long it takes, finding the time to really listen to what your child has to say is just as important for them as it is for you.
Share Your Story
What does National Adoption Month mean to you? How do you feel when you hear the word family? If you have a personal experience with foster care or adoption, consider sharing how this experience has touched your life and shaped you into the person you are today. Reading the experience of someone who has lived through it can make a bigger difference than you might think. It’s also a phenomenal way to strike a chord with the lives of children in foster care right now.
So, take the theme of this month into your own hands, and don’t hesitate to put yourself out there! You story could create the change a child needs to see in their own life.
Ready to get started? There are so many ways that you can make a difference today. Remember to spread the word on social media about National Adoption Month and take the time to get involved in local events and activities all month long.