Steven Wagner, Acting Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families
During National Adoption Month, I had the opportunity to listen and share with families who have adopted children from the U.S. foster care system. The story behind why a child enters foster care -through no fault of their own - is heartbreaking to hear, but the hope and opportunity adoption brings provides an abundant amount of comfort, illustrating that no child is unwanted and unloved.
That is why I want to thank each and every adoptive parent and family who have opened their life and home to our nation’s children. Your generosity and unselfish act of caring for some of America’s most vulnerable children is a true testament to the greatness of our society.
When we think about adoption, we often think about younger kids. While adopting children of all age groups is important, there are a large number of teenagers waiting to be adopted. This year’s National Adoption Month theme focuses on adopting older teens from foster care with an added emphasis of potential adoptive parents not having to be “perfect parents” in order to adopt.
The Children’s Bureau here at ACF is making great strides with helping children find permanent homes through adoption and legal guardianship. Through partnerships with the Ad Council, AdoptUSKids and KBS, they have developed a national adoption recruitment campaign to bring awareness to over 118,000 kids who are waiting to be adopted from foster care through adoption public service announcements (PSAs). In addition, their partnership with AdoptUSKids brings awareness to the thousands of children waiting to be adopted through a national photolisting.
Recently published fiscal year (FY) 2016 Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data show us that there’s still much more work that needs to be done, as the number of children entering foster care continues to increase. We have partnerships with many state, local, faith-based and non-profit agencies to help provide support for our children while they are in our care, and will continue to work to provide preventive services that will help families and children who have child welfare involvement. While our goal is to reunite children with their birth families, we also know how very important it is to have loving foster and adoptive parents available to provide permanency for children when reunification is not possible.
For those working in the child welfare and adoption fields, I want to thank you for your hard work and partnership in finding loving homes for our children. I would also like to congratulate all of the 2016 Adoption Excellence awardees for their many efforts in supporting permanency for children and youth from foster care.
If you are interested in adopting, there are resources for your state. We had a very good year in FY 2016 with over 57,000 adoptions. Let’s continue that trend by challenging ourselves to open our hearts and homes to those who need them most.