A long tradition of informal adoption exists within the African-American community. Grandparents raising grandkids, relatives stepping in when a fellow family member isn't able to care for a child, or even neighbors taking in neighborhood children in need of good homes… the circumstances may vary, but it’s not altogether uncommon.
Despite that, there is a real shortage of African-American parents adopting from foster care where the need is tremendous.
Each year, nearly 400,000 children will spend time in U.S. foster care. Of them, nearly ¼ are legally cleared for adoption. In 2012, more than half of the children entering the system were young people of color; however, many remain in the system without being adopted due to a lack of willing families.
When foster children ‘age-out’ of care (i.e. leave the system at age 18 without having been adopted), they are statistically more likely to become homeless or incarcerated. Few will attain college degrees and many will require public assistance. Without the guidance and love of a family, they are more susceptible to being taken advantage of by sex traffickers and other unscrupulous people.
Children in foster care did not end up there because of juvenile delinquency. They are in the system due to no fault of their own—simply because their biological parents were abusive or otherwise unable to care for them.
Some mistakenly believe that it’s expensive to adopt through foster care. Because foster children are wards of the state, adoption is essentially free to those who qualify. Court costs and other adoption-related fees are covered by the state. Upfront costs may exist for the home study (approximately $1,500-2,500 depending on the state), but these are typically reimbursed by federal tax credits or corporate/military benefits. In fact, most children in foster care receive a financial or medical subsidy until they reach adulthood, and they may be eligible for college tuition assistance.
To become a foster/adoptive parent, it is not necessary to own your home. Same-sex couples, military families and both male and female single people are eligible. Applicants must pass criminal background checks and prove that they earn enough to support a child without the child’s state-provided subsidy.
Options beyond fostering or adoption exist. There are options for being an emergency foster parent—taking in a child for a short period before a more permanent situation is sorted out—or even being short-term respite caregivers for other foster parents. These alternatives allow people to become comfortable with the system while they explore a more permanent option.
On behalf of the beautiful and vulnerable African-American children hoping for a family to love, won’t you please consider opening your home and your heart to these children?
To learn more, please contact the National Adoption Center at (800) TO-ADOPT.
To view waiting children, visit AdoptUsKids.org