2018 National Adoption Month
Children's Bureau Message
Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner at the Children’s Bureau
For a third consecutive year, the Children's Bureau's National Adoption Month—including its National Adoption Recruitment Campaign—is focusing on the thousands of teenagers and young adults in foster care who still need a loving, permanent family and a place to call home. The number of children and youth in foster care continues to rise, reaching nearly 438,000 in September of 2016. We also see the number of children waiting to be adopted increasing. On September 30, 2016, the number of children and youth waiting for adoption was over 118,000. Of that number, 13,037 (11 percent) were between the ages of 15 and 17 years old. Securing permanent connections for these young people, with a broad safety net of supportive adults in their life, remains critically important and deserves our unwavering commitment. Nurturing parental relationships, within both birth and adoptive families, is essential for healthy physical and emotional development.
Some of you may have experienced the powerful impact of hearing a young person share a personal story about their foster care experience. Any teen who has spent time in foster care has a unique and valuable perspective that we, as professionals, can learn from and use to help us shape and improve our programs and practice. Whether a young person has reunified with their birth family, achieved permanency with an adoptive family, or launched into adulthood independently, their insights can inform our permanency planning, recruitment practices, be incorporated into trainings for resource families, and help to educate our communities. This year's National Adoption Month campaign highlights the importance of empowering the voices of young people and identifying both formal and informal opportunities for them to influence the child welfare field and its practices. I encourage you to explore the resources and tools on the National Adoption Month website and consider ways that you and your agency can create new opportunities for youth to be involved and to share their voices in educating your community and informing your practices, especially those that impact young people. This may include, for example, creating a local youth speaker's bureau or advisory council, identifying ways to incorporate youth in your staff training or the training of prospective foster or adoptive families, or supporting young people's involvement in the development of recruitment campaigns.
I hope you will join us in celebrating National Adoption Month this November and consider ways you can encourage the involvement and perspective of youth in your communities' education and awareness-raising efforts.