November is National Adoption Month

Adopting a child has always seemed to me to be one of the bravest, noblest, and most selfless things an adult can do. And since November is National Adoption Month, I’m reaching out on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AdoptUSKids, and the Ad Council to ask for your help in spreading the word about a new PSA campaign that encourages prospective parents to adopt older youth from foster care.

The theme for National Adoption Month is, “We Never Outgrow the Need for Family.” That’s because older children and youth still have many big milestones in their life they need a family for.

There are 415,000 children in the U.S. foster care system and 108,000 are waiting to be adopted. AdoptUSKids’ maintains a national photo listing service for children waiting to be adopted. Since the project launched in 2002, more than 25,000 children who were once photo listed on have been adopted and nearly 38,000 families have registered toadopt through the website.  Nevertheless, older youth are disproportionately represented – approximately 41 percent of children and youth photo listed on are between 15 and 18 years old, but only 17 percent of those adopted have been in this age group

Older youth and teens have lower adoption rates than younger children, and they often wait longer to be adopted. But no matter their age, all kids need a supportive, loving home and the teenage years are a critical period for growth. The new TV PSAs, which were created for the campaign probono, portray a dad giving advice to his teenage daughter after her first breakup, and a mom giving her son a haircut at home. The humorous, lighthearted scenarios aim to overcome fears adoptive parents may have regarding their own imperfections. The PSAs end with the tagline, “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent,” reassuring prospective parents that even if they are not ‘perfect’, they have the ability to provide the stability and security that older youth in foster care need and deserve.

The PSAs direct audiences to visit or to call 1-888-200-4005 (English) or 1-877-236-7831 (Spanish) to receive the latest information about the foster care system and theadoption process.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Use #NAM15 and #perfectparent to share your experience or the new PSAs on social media.
  • Spread the word! Let us know if you know a blogger who might have a place in their hearts for the Adoption from Foster Care campaign.

For more information about adoption, or about becoming an adoptive parent to a child from foster care, please visit or visit the campaign’s communities on Facebook and Twitter.
Why Older Youth?

  • All of us – and that includes older youth in foster care who are waiting to be adopted – need and want families throughout life to support us and to share important life events. Learning to drive a car, applying for higher education, and birthday and holiday celebrations are just a few examples of the times in life we need and want to share with family.
  • Older youth are overrepresented in the foster care population, as they generally wait longer to be adopted, and have lower overall adoption rates.
  • On, roughly 41 percent of the children and youth actively photolisted are between the ages of 15 and 18 years old. About 58 percent are male. (Most recent stats as of May 31, 2015)
  • Families who adopt older youth, are providing them with the support and stability of a family during a critical period of normal adolescent concerns and additional self-identity issues.

Some of the Misperceptions about Adoption from Foster Care:

  • Adoption is expensive.  Unlike the private adoption of an infant or adopting internationally, there are virtually no costs associated with adoption from the US child welfare system. In addition, the vast majority of youth adopted from foster care are also eligible for monthly adoption assistance up to the level of the foster care rate.
  • You have to be married. You do not have to be married to adopt in most states. Many children have been very successfully adopted by single parents. Single-parent families accounted for 29 percent of all adoptions from foster care in 2014 (AFCARS).
  • You have to have a college degree. Having a high school diploma or college education is not required. What is important is that you are stable, flexible, and compassionate, and that you have a good sense of humor. Most importantly, you must have the support and commitment to raise a child and to be there for him throughout his life.
  • You have to own a home and each child has to have their own room. You can rent your home or live in an apartment or a mobile home so long as your living situation is a stable one.
  • You have to be of child-bearing age to adopt. Experienced parents and empty-nesters are encouraged to adopt. In most instances, you’re eligible to adopt regardless of age, income, marital status or sexual orientation.
  • You can only adopt a child who is the same race and ethnicity as you. Federal law prohibits the delay or denial of an adoptive placement based on the race or ethnicity of a child in U.S. foster care and the prospective parent or parents who are seeking to adopt them. The only exception to this law is the adoption of Native American children where special considerations apply.
  • You can’t adopt if you’re in the military. Military families stationed overseas and within the U.S. are eligible to adopt children from the U.S. foster care system.


Lessons Learned After Adopting a Child from Ethiopia

Claude Knobler, author of More Love (Less Panic).
Lessons learned about life and parenting after adopting a child from Ethiopia.
Issues: The difference between influence and control; why worrying doesn’t help; how less than perfect may be perfect enough; learning perspective from a piñata and mushy food.

What to Expect When You’re Adopting + Admissions Essay Bootcamp

Mary Ostyn, author of Forever Mom.
What to expect when you’re adopting.
Issues: Navigating the difficult road to adopting a child; preparing your other children for new siblings; help babies, toddlers, and other children settle in; address misbehavior while remaining connected; dealing with cultural difference; nurturing your marriage throughout.

Ashley Wellington, author of Admissions Essay Boot Camp.
How to write your way into the elite college of your dreams.
Issues: Identifying your student “type”; brainstorming and other exercises; creating outlines and drafts; making your essay unique; how to handle tough topics; what topics to stay away from and why.

When Adoption Doesn’t Go As Planned

Guest 1: Samantha Feuss, adoptive mother of two.
Topic: When adoption doesn’t work out.
Issues: The risks of international adoptions; what agencies don’t tell you about your adopted child’s background, age, and more; worries about being judged if an adoption goes bad; finding support from other parents and social workers who understand what it’s like.

The Other Side of Adoption + Nannies for Modern Mom + Undernurtured Kids

Guest 1: Samantha Feuss, adoptive mother of two.
Topic: When adoption doesn’t work out.
Issues: The risks of international adoptions; what agencies don’t tell you about your adopted child’s background, age, and more; worries about being judged if an adoption goes bad; finding support from other parents and social workers who understand what it’s like.

[amazon asin=098157730X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 2: Alyce Desrosiers, author of Nannies for Modern Moms.
Topic: Hiring the right nanny for your child and you.
Issues: What type of nanny do you need? Pitfalls to finding the right nanny; determining the right “fit” for your child; evaluating and eliminating candidates.

[amazon asin=1412810906&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 3: Anne Pierce, author of Ships without a Shore.
Topic: America’s Undernurtured Children.
Issues: Many of the problems afflicting America’s young people are rooted in the very practices that area meant to help them; many of the change in what’s considered acceptable parenting are based on untested theories and false beliefs; are we creating kids without a moral compass?.

Adopting Daddy

Dear Mr. Dad: When I married my husband, my biological son was 5. My husband adopted him two years later. My husband is financially and spiritually supportive, but he doesn’t seem interested in playing or doing “dad” type stuff with our son. I would love for him to initiate catch, going to batting cages, or anything family oriented, but he doesn’t. I’m starting to resent that all he wants to do is work on the house on weekends. Help me understand him.

A: There are all sorts of reasons that could explain your husband’s behavior. When he became part of your son’s life, he had already “missed” five years, along with the familiarity, confidence, and competence that comes from being there from the very beginning. As a result, he may simply not know what to do with the boy. This is especially true if he was an only child or had little or no experience with young kids.
[Read more…]