National Adoption Month is an initiative of the Children’s Bureau that seeks to increase national awareness of adoption issues, bring attention to the need for adoptive families for teens in the U.S. foster care system, and emphasize the value of youth engagement. We have focused our efforts on adoption for teens because we know that teens in foster care wait longer for permanency and are at higher risk of aging out than younger children. Teens need love, support, and a sense of belonging that families can provide. Securing lifelong connections for these teens, both legally and emotionally, is a critical component in determining their future achievement, health, and well-being.
Each year, we focus our outreach and awareness-raising efforts around a new adoption-related theme to help support professionals working each day to find permanency for children and youth in foster care in their community. This year’s National Adoption Month theme is “Conversations Matter.” Incorporating youth engagement into daily child welfare practice can start with a simple conversation. Listen to what the young person has to say, what their goals are, and how they feel about adoption. Create an environment where they can be honest and ask questions. Youth are the experts of their own lives, so let them partner with you in permanency planning and make decisions about their life.
The following are key data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System about adoption from foster care in the United States in 2019:
- There are over 122,000 children and youth waiting to be adopted who are at risk of aging out of foster care without permanent family connections. (AFCARS report).
- Approximately one in five children in the U.S. foster care system waiting to be adopted are teens.
- Teens, ages 15-18, wait significantly longer for permanency when compared to their peers.
- Only 5 percent of all children adopted in 2019 were 15-18 years old.
- The risk of homelessness and human trafficking is increased for teenagers in foster care. According to the most recent AFCARS report, of the 122,000 children and youth waiting to be adopted:
- 52 percent are male
- 48 percent are female
- 22 percent are African American
- 22 percent are Hispanic
- 44 percent are white
- The average age is eight years old
- 11 percent are between 15 and 18 years old
- Average time in foster care is 31 months
Content Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway