Older children awaiting adoption are the focus of National Adoption Month in November. That’s because they typically have to wait longer to be adopted than younger children, says Stacy Cox, Director of the Champaign County Department of Job and Family Services (CCDJFS).
The State of Ohio reports that Ohio children age 13 and up who are awaiting adoption have been in foster care an average of four years and five months, she said.
Currently more than 16,000 Ohio children live in foster homes or other out-of-home settings. Of these, 3,000 are waiting to be adopted – 40 percent of them age 13 and older.
In Champaign County, 29 children are in foster care – 15 in permanent custody of the CCDJFS (11 due to their parents’ addiction to opioids or other drugs). Of these 15 children, seven are in adoptive placement, meaning they’re in the stage prior to a court finalizing adoption; five are matched with adoptive parents; and three are awaiting to be matched with a forever family.
All three of the children awaiting a match are teenagers, Cox said.
Stacie Petticrew, Social Services Supervisor with CCDJFS, said that this year CCDJFS has been getting help in finding adoptive parents from an adoption recruiter who is serving Champaign, Clark and Madison counties through a grant from the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
The Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program focuses on recruiting adoptive parents for children who are typically the most difficult to place — teenagers, special needs children and sibling groups.
CCDJFS has already finalized three adoptions in 2019 and is hoping to finalize an additional three to six by the end of the calendar year, Cox said.
People considering adoption often are drawn to younger children due to the appeal of celebrating traditional childhood firsts, like first steps, first day of school, or first sports team or piano recital, to name a few.
But, Sara Wright, Social Services Administrator of CCDJFS, says, “Teens still have a lot of firsts ahead of them … first dance, first job, first day of high school.”
She adds, “We’re trying to help people understand that while older youth might look like they’re self-sufficient, that doesn’t mean they don’t have needs like younger children. They need the support of a loving, forever family.”
Older children seeking adoptive parents run the risk of turning 18, “aging out” of the foster care system, before they can be adopted. Such young adults are at greater risk of homelessness, as they lack the guidance and encouragement of a parent as they transition to living independently, Wright said.
Persons interested in learning more about adoption and the requirements for becoming an adoptive parent may call CCDJFS at 937-484-1500 and ask to speak to an adoption and foster care specialist.
And Cox said that the Ohio Adoption Photolisting Website, adoptionphotolistingohio.org, allows people interested in adoption to learn more about Ohio children who are looking for a permanent home.
Information from Champaign County Department of Job and Family Services.