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‘You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Be a Perfect Parent’ to Adopt a Teen from Foster Care

By June Dorn, Children's Bureau National Adoption Specialist

Are you an over-confident dad who attacks a critter problem in his basement, a pet-loving mom who isn’t always aware of how her actions may look in front of the neighbors, or a parent whose adventures in baking don’t always turn out the way you hoped (

Even if you answered yes, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t perfect. A potential parent simply needs to have time, stability, maturity, commitment, flexibility, compassion, a sense of humor, patience, a team player attitude and the overall love of children to be the perfect parent to an adopted teenager.

Mother and adopted daughter in the kitchen, with a tagline that reads "you don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent."During National Adoption Month we are asking adults to consider opening their hearts and homes to one of the 14,000 teens between the ages of 14 and 16 in foster care. Teens often wait longer to be adopted, are overrepresented in the foster care population and have lower overall adoption rates. For those families who adopt teens, they are giving these children the support and stability of a family and home during a critical period of normal adolescent concerns and additional self-identity issues.

To encourage prospective parents to consider the adoption of teens from foster care, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families is launching the latest series of our “You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Be a Perfect Parent” public service advertisements (PSAs) in partnership with the Ad Council. The new TV, radio, print, outdoor and digital PSAs direct audiences to visit, or to call 1-888-200-4005 for English-speaking staff or 1-877-236-7831 for Spanish-speaking staff, to receive current, accurate information about the foster care system and the adoption process. 

To extend the campaign through social media, we are unveiling a new “Oh, Parents” Tumblr blog that will feature the genuine and often hilarious stories of imperfection that all parents experience. Prospective parents and supporters are invited to join the conversation and share their own mishaps of parenting. The blog will launch later this month.

Since the launch of the campaign in July 2004, 15,000 children who were once photo listed on the web site have been placed with a permanent family. Additionally, the campaign has received more than $341 million in donated and earned media support to date. Previous PSAs have been developed with a specific annual focus, including preteens, Spanish language, African-Americans, sibling groups, and children 8 and older.

Help us spread the word through you social media networks about the 14,000 teenagers waiting for adoption by sharing our new PSAs. If you are interested in adopting a teen, you can take the first step by visiting Give teens the opportunity to reach their full potential, and grow through the loving and stable foundation of an adoptive family.

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