â€œAll I want for Christmas is a family.â€ These words are repeated by so many of the foster children who are asked to fill out a wish list at Christmas. What is even more heartbreaking is these children have the same wish every day of the year. You see, these are children who are in state foster care â€“ just hoping and waiting for the day they might have a family of their own. Every day, we hear these kids say:
- â€œWhere am I going to go when I get older?â€ (17 year old Amy)
- â€œWho would want a 17 year old?â€ (17 year old Michael)
- â€œThe chances of me getting adopted are pretty small, people just want to adopt babies.â€ (12 year old Monique)
- â€œI am trying to prepare for life without a family, Iâ€™m already 15.â€ (15 year old John)
- â€œI took care of my sister when I was 4 years old.â€ (13 year old Jennifer)
- â€œDoesnâ€™t anyone want me?â€ (15 year old Joey)
Children enter the foster care system because they are abused and neglected. These are children of all ages. Some are removed at birth, while others are removed many years later. Too many grow up in foster care, often going from one temporary situation to another, without ever experiencing a forever family. â€œWaiting childrenâ€ are children whose biological parents, because of the abuse and neglect, have had their parental rights terminated, and now the children wait. If they have siblings, they wonder what will happen to them. What these children want more than anything else in the world is a loving, permanent family. They need stability and want love and the feeling of safety. They want to create positive memories, new memories for their futures.
The prospects for kids who age out of the system without finding a family are grim. â€œ18 isnâ€™t a good thing for kids in foster care,â€ says Tracy Eilers of the Adoption Coalition of Texas. Sent out on their own with no one to care for them or teach them how to be an adult in the world, half of these kids end up homeless. The Adoption Coalition aims to find â€œforever familiesâ€ for these children. The hardest children to place are teenagers, sibling groups, and those with disabilities or special needs. Recently Tracy sent me the story of a boy, Jarod, who is about to age out of the foster care system and has almost given up hope on a family to call his own.
Tracy said, â€œWeek after week, we film segments for Forever Familiesâ€¦ week after week, I meet the most amazing kidsâ€¦ and every second of every day I hope beyond all hope that we can make a difference in these kids livesâ€¦ I donâ€™t know if I have ever hoped so much as for Jarod.â€ Put into foster care at the age of ten, Jarod has had a very hard time trusting adults, and who could blame him? Now heâ€™s 16 and repeating the ninth grade. In two years, heâ€™ll leave the foster care system, completely unprepared for life on his own. â€œTo me it seems like itâ€™s too late. For life, I guess. When I turn 18 I donâ€™t know what Iâ€™m going to do,â€ he said. (View Jarod’s complete story on News 8)
Jarod is out of hope. He feels heâ€™s out of time and he has no idea what to do about it. Ask about his future, and he shuts down. Though heâ€™s given up on himself, he still has another year to find a family who will love him and call him their own.
Adoption Coalition of Texas is committed to making that happen â€“ for Jarod and countless other children in foster care. Says Tracy, â€œWe will reach out to find and recruit families to adopt these children who are afraid of never finding a family. We will not stop until we find families for these kids!â€
There are many other organizations doing similar work as well. The Heart Gallery is a nationwide initiative to find adoptive families for children in foster care. Chris Shouse, a realtor from Arkansas, bought two homes for foster children to live in and is raising money to support these kids.