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November was National Adoption Month – A Message for All Year Long

A teenager, anxious about being adopted after a nearly lifetime of moving between different homes, secretly wonders: "Are they going to love me enough?" At the same moment, her adoptive parents exchange a glance that says, "Are we going to be enough for her?"  Both have trepidation about taking this leap of faith, but the human drive for connection and family prevails.  In this case the answer was "Yes," and "Yes."

November was National Adoption Month, but if there's room in your heart and family for a foster child, there are more than 100,000 foster children ready to be adopted in the U.S. right now. In recent years, National Adoption Month has become focused on foster children, especially older children. It is a common misconception that older children don't need or want parenting. But as another teenager noted, he wanted somebody to be sitting proudly in the audience at his high school graduation – proving that the need for family is lifelong.

The future of these children is vitally important. Jewish & Family Service of Pittsburgh (JF&CS) has been committed to help build families and find children safe, loving and permanent homes through its adoption and foster care division, Family Hope Connection (FHC), for more than20 years. JoAnn White, Director of FHC since its inception, notes some of the many changes in the system over the years.

"The adoption process has evolved as the society has," she said. "Today 40% of adopted children are of a different race, culture, or ethnicity than one or both their adoptive parents. Almost 70% of domestic adoptions are now open adoptions. Single and LBGT people can be foster parents and adopt. And the focus on only adopting infants is gradually easing."

Here are some other facts about adoption and foster care that you might not know:

  • One out of every 25 U.S. families with children has an adopted child.
  • There are more than 110,000 foster children eligible for and waiting to be adopted.
  • After rising for decades, overseas adoptions have dropped by half since 2004.  The decline is thought to be due to rising restrictions put in place by other countries. For example, Russia has halted international adoptions altogether.

People often comment how "lucky" foster children and adoptees are. But adoptive and foster parents aren't heroes, just people with very big hearts. And if you say their adopted or foster children are lucky, most often they correct you and say THEY are the lucky ones.

If you have experienced foster care or adoption in your family, or if you are interested in learning about whether adoption or foster care might be right for you, you can learn more about options by visiting the FHC website at www.fhcadopt.org or by calling 412-422-8567. The compassionate, experienced staff at FHC can guide you through this complicated but ultimately rewarding journey.



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