May is National Foster Care Month, a time to recognize that we each can play a part in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care.
May's special issue highlights a higher education program for transitioning youth, a tool for evaluating youth connectedness, and other information about foster care.
The Obama administration remains committed to improving the lives of children in foster care and the futures of youth who may leave foster care without a permanent family.
Donnivan and I met when I was assigned to recruit a prospective adoptive home for him and his younger sister. At our initial meeting, Donnivan expressed his reluctance about being adopted. Although I could continue to recruit for prospective adoptive matches, it would be difficult without Donnivan's involvement and desire to find a permanent family. Independent living was not an acceptable permanency plan without a lasting connection, and my concerns were growing that Donnivan, like many other foster youth, would face serious risks to his well-being if he were to "age out" without being reunited with his family, adopted, or placed with a legal guardian.
David, a licensed foster care provider, was originally contacted a few weeks before Thanksgiving 2010 to foster Donnivan and his sister. At the time, he was unable to foster both children, but since they were in different placements David kept checking in on them and made a special request to invite Donnivan out to join his family for the Thanksgiving holiday. The holiday went well, and David would later note "that Thanksgiving 2010 was a very special day with Donnivan joining his family." However, he was unable to keep in contact with Donnivan, until one day when David was looking at the Adoption Exchange's website and noticed Donnivan and his sister pictured together.
David made contact with the Department of Family Services and informed the adoption recruiter that, if Donnivan was willing, he would like to visit with him again. In August 2012, a lunch meeting was arranged with Donnivan, his then-foster father, David, David's son, and me. At the meeting, Donnivan and David reconnected over a great conversation.
Since then, Donnivan has spent most weekends with David. David has been helping Donnivan actively participate in a faith community and deal with issues of self-esteem. Almost every Sunday, Donnivan has breakfast, attends church services, and often goes out for lunch with David and his family. Visits continue to be ongoing and also include Donnivan's sister and her new adoptive family. Additionally, David has taken Donnivan to his place of work and out to dinner and the circus for his birthday.
I asked Donnivan what makes David a special person. "David is a great mentor because he wants to be there. He doesn't get paid and isn't required to come see me or do anything. He just does it because he wants to!" Donnivan also knows that if he ever needs guidance in the future, David will always be there for him, and that makes the future a little less scary.
Learn more about the Clark County, NV, Department of Family Services' Permanent Families and Lasting Connections Project and other Children's Bureau Diligent Recruitment grantees.
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