Friday, January 17, 2020

Who Are The Children In Foster Care?

There are currently over 400,000 children in the US foster care system and over 100,000 of them are legally eligible for adoption. This means their birth parents’ rights have been legally terminated or relinquished. These children are in foster care and waiting for their forever families. They remain at risk for aging out of foster care if they are unable to find permanency with forever families. Should they emancipate (age out) from foster care, studies have shown that these children remain with little to no support systems to guide them through their young adult life. Unfortunately, an estimated 23,000 children age out of foster care every year. With aging out of the system comes many risks for these children including homelessness, substance abuse, and incarceration. Around 1 in 4 of these children will not graduate from high school and only 50% of these children will be employed by age 24.  

Project Wait No Longer

For these reasons and many others, we started our older child adoption program called Project Wait No Longer. The Barker Adoption Foundation seeks to meet the needs of children who are at a higher risk of aging out of the foster care system. We are placing children nationwide, mostly between the ages of 10 and 17, that are legally eligible for adoption.


What We Look For In Families

Families that are most successful in this program are the ones that come to us with openness in their homes and hearts for these children. We accept all family constructs – single parents, heterosexual and LGBTQ married couples, and there is no age limit on prospective parents.

Children enter care as a result of unfortunate circumstances beyond their control, most often involving some level of trauma. Be it through abuse or neglect, children are exposed to negative and adverse events that leave indelible scars on them. As a result, they are most times unable to adequately express or cope with their emotions. We look for parents who are dedicated to learning more about this population of children and seeking out resources to meet their needs. We maintain that while older child adoption can be very rewarding, it also comes with a set of challenges not only for the child but also for the parent. Because of this, parents will need a strong social support system to aid them through challenging periods, but also to provide respite and solace.  Parents also do well when they can be flexible and easy-going. Parents will need to meet the child where they are and help them in whichever ways possible.


Why Families Matter

November is National Adoption Month. During this past month, we celebrated why families matter. Nothing says why adoption and family matter better than actual testimonials about adoption from our Barker families. Since 2007, we have placed over 150 children in this program into loving and forever families. These children have been able to graduate high school, go on to college or careers and accomplish things they never thought possible before they found their forever family. One girl who was adopted at the age of 11 said: “Before I was adopted into my family 7 years ago, I didn’t think I would graduate like many in my biological family. I didn’t feel like I would ever have the opportunity to pursue any of my dreams that I had. Not only did I graduate high school this year, but I will also be going to college to be a vet tech. I already work at an animal hospital and love taking care of animals! The support from my parents, as well as their encouragement and guidance, has helped make that a reality that I never thought possible.” Through adoption from the foster care system, this young adult now has opportunities and loving support from her parents that might not have been possible beforehand.


Upcoming PRIDE Training

If you are interested in starting your older child adoption journey and changing the life of a child in need, I would encourage you to sign up for our next Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education (PRIDE) Training. This is a great way to learn about children in care and how to meet their needs through parenting. Our next group of PRIDE classes starts on January 25th, 2020. For more information and how to register, please visit our website:
Molly Dunlap, Barker's Community Outreach & Recruitment Specialist