November is National Adoption Month. Each year during this month, we work to promote and create awareness across the nation around the continued need to find children and youth permanent homes. In 1984, President Reagan proclaimed the first National Adoption Week, and in 1995, President Clinton expanded this to the entire month of November.
This year’s theme is “Every Conversation Matters,” emphasizing the need to engage young people in the system about adoption, their futures, and issues that might arise along the way.
Over 122,000 children and teenagers in the foster care system are waiting to find a permanent home, and many are at risk of aging out of the system without a connection to a permanent family. About one in five children in the United States who are awaiting adoption are teens – many of whom will wait longer for a permanent home than their peers. We also know that African American and Native American children, regardless of age, remain in foster care longer and have more delays in adoption than their white peers.
Thousands of teenagers across the country need permanent families. We can make a difference by helping to raise awareness during National Adoption Month. This year the Children’s Bureau is asking child welfare professionals and communities to focus efforts on adopting teens in the foster care system. Data tells us that teens can remain in foster care and wait longer for a permanent family and adoption, so finding teenagers a “forever family” is urgent.
Every Conversation Matters. Having transparent and authentic conversations with youth in foster care is critical. The more involved and engaged teenagers are in the process, the more they feel they have a voice in their futures.
For additional information about National Adoption Month, please visit the Children’s Bureau website. There may also be state and local organizations in your area that can be contacted for additional resources.
Jeff Lukich is the Child Welfare Strategy and Practice Lead at DLH Corporation. Previously, he served nearly 30 years with the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. Jeff retired as the Division’s Chief of Staff in 2018.