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This article is from Issue 58: Jul/Aug 2012

Fostering Hope

How the Church is changing the face of foster care and adoption in the U.S.

You’ve seen the commercials depicting starving children overseas. You’re familiar with the “sponsor a child” model for aiding impoverished, starving and sick children. You know of the celebrities who’ve adopted children from Ethiopia and Vietnam.

And there’s nothing wrong with these efforts. In fact, there’s reason to celebrate any effort to save or improve the lives of children overseas.

But what about the kids stateside? It might not sound as glamorous, but there are thousands of kids in the United States who need a loving home. And for many, that need is not being met.

As of late 2010, more than 408,000 children were in the U.S. foster care system. Of those children, 107,011 were considered “adoptable”—meaning, their parents’ rights have been terminated or relinquished.

Every year, 20,000 to 30,000 kids “age out” of the foster care system. Of those, 50 percent will have dropped out of high school (compared with 8 to 9 percent of the general population). Sixty-two percent will be unemployed within 12 to 18 months. Half will be unemployed at 21 years of age. A quarter of them will be homeless within two years. Nearly 50 percent of females will have a child within 12 to 18 months.
And 30 percent will be arrested between the ages of 18 and 21.

For these children, not having a family makes a drastic and devastating difference in their lives.

In recent years, Focus on the Family has started confronting this issue with their Wait No More campaign, which specifically challenges churches to adopt children out of foster care. In just a few years, Wait No More has seen more than 1,930 families initiate the adoption process. In Colorado, where Focus on the Family is based, 800 children were in foster care and awaiting adoption in 2008. By 2010, that number had been reduced to 365.

Jedd Medefind, president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, has taken notice of the Church’s response to the need for more domestic adoptions.

“From the very start of Church history, Christians at their best have earned a reputation as a people who take special care of the orphan. And it’s becoming that way again,” Medefind says. “I love what’s happening in foster care across America, as more and more churches are saying of kids in the foster system, ‘Maybe no one else will claim these kids, but we will. We’re going to foster and adopt and mentor them and let them experience God’s love in personal, tangible ways.’”