When you think of adoption, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Many people think immediately of infants straight from the hospital, others think of children living in orphanages overseas. One of the last things people think of however, is teenagers right here in our own backyard.
After attending an information session put on at AFABC by the Ministry of Children and Families however, I learned some startling new facts about teen adoption. At the time of the info session there were 437 youth aged 12-18 registered for adoption in BC. Of that massive number, only 16 were adopted that year. SIXTEEN! That works out to less than 4% of available teens. Those numbers shock me. How, in a province with so many people, so many Christians, were only 16 adopted?
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During the info session I discovered that in BC alone, there are more than 4000 youth in foster care. Many of the teens are children whom have been in foster care since they were young children, others entered in their teenage years. Many have gone through abuse, neglect, and multiple homes. What they haven’t experienced though, is permanency. The sad reality is that once any child in foster care turns 18, they are no longer considered part of the foster care system, and in essence age out.
For many that means they are handed $800 and put on the streets, literally. Some foster parents continue to offer their teens homes, but many do not. Many have not even graduated high school, yet find themselves homeless or couch surfing. A very high percentage of teens that age out of the foster care system find themselves homeless, pregnant, or abusing drugs and alcohol. In fact 78% of homeless youth are currently in or have been in foster care. These teens are twice as likely to end up on welfare, 4 times more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy, and only 21% will actually graduate high school. The stats are astonishing.
After all this though, the trauma, the moves, the hopelessness, what do teens still want? A family. A forever family. Many people wonder why teens even need to be adopted since they are already almost living on their own. But they need love, just as God designed us to be. Without permanent attachment figures, who are they going to phone to announce their engagement? Who are they going to tell their children grandma and grandpa is? Who are they going to visit at Christmas and Easter?
Despite their age, these teens are still just children, desperate for a family to call their own. Many of them are sibling groups, desperate to stay together, yearning to find someone to take them all. Many are also Christians, begging their social worker for a Christian family to adopt them. Yes, these are tiny souls, children of God, wanting to be in His presence, but where are we? Where are the lines of Christian adoptive parents eager to offer them their love?
I challenge you, to consider the adoption of a teenager today. No matter how old they are, they are all children of God, yearning to be a child to someone just like you.
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