When my husband Michael was five, he remembers sitting in a vehicle with his mother and grandmother. His mother had just married and Michael didn’t like living with his new stepfather’s extended family after having spent all of his life in his grandmother’s house. On this day, they had the discussion that his grandmother was going to adopt him in order to make things easier for everyone.
Michael just celebrated his 50th birthday, but that conversation from 45 years ago is still something he vividly remembers.
“I knew that it was because they all cared enough about me that Mama gave me to Mother for adoption,” he said. “They made sure I was being cared for the best way possible.”
While Michael was never officially in foster care, he is an example of what is known as a kinship adoption, where the adoptive family is raising the child of a relative or close family friend. This promotes children’s sense of belonging through connection to cultural heritage, family and community.
November is National Adoption Awareness Month, with a special focus in 2021 on teen adoption. According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, there were over 122,000 children and youth in the United States waiting to be adopted in 2019 who were at risk of aging out of foster care without permanent family connections. That same report showed that approximately one in five children in the U.S. foster care system waiting to be adopted were teens but only 5 percent of all children adopted were 15-18 years old.
Research has shown that youth leaving foster care without a permanent connection face challenges with employment, education and mental health, as well as have an increased risk of homelessness and human trafficking.
In addition to providing residential and foster care to teens, Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina is a foster-to-adopt agency. This means that in situations where a child is free for adoption, we will help a foster family through the adoption process to create a forever family.
For more information about becoming an adoptive parent, contact Ophelia Anderson at 910-646-3083 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Melissa Hopkins is the Public Relations and Marketing Specialist at Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina.