November is National Adoption Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness of the many children in foster care in America who are currently awaiting adoption. There are over 117,000 children and youth eligible for adoption nationwide—and nearly 6,000 of them are here in Texas. We hope that by bringing to light the often unknown facts about adoption, as well as sharing pre- and post-adoption resources, we will help break down barriers that keep people from exploring adoption and encourage others to open their homes.
In 2022, we shared an article about 5 Things You Should Know About Adoption & Foster Care. We encourage you to read through the article and learn more about the main takeaways:
- Adoption is not as common in foster care as you might think.
- Many children in foster care are adopted by their relatives.
- Adoptive families can qualify for financial assistance.
- Teenagers need to be adopted, too!
- These children need people like you.
According to the February 2023 DFPS report of the 5,963 children waiting for adoption, the average amount of time that has passed since termination of parental rights is 19 months, with the longest being 111 months or 9.25 years. Sadly, most of these children have been in foster care much longer than that while waiting for their case to be investigated – far too long to be without a permanent placement where they feel a sense of belonging. The time to help the children and youth currently awaiting adoption is now. If you feel inspired, here are a few ways you can step up today:
- Become a CASA Volunteer: CASA volunteers are everyday citizens from the community who are screened, trained and appointed by a judge to advocate for a child’s best interest in court. They work collaboratively with the professionals on the child’s case, including the caseworker, attorneys and others. Their first priority is to advocate for the child to reunify with their parents. When this is not an option, they advocate for the child to live with and be adopted by other family members or friends, or with a caring adoptive family. Are you ready to take the first step towards becoming a CASA volunteer? Contact your local CASA program to get started!
- Consider Fostering or Adopting: Texas is always in need of more families to open their homes for children in state care. Visit DFPS’s Steps to Become a Foster/Adoptive Parent page to see the requirements, learn more and start the process.
- Spread Awareness: Simply having conversations with those in your personal and professional networks about the children and families in the foster care system will encourage others to learn more and get involved!
- Donate: As a statewide organization, Texas CASA connects each part of the CASA network and empowers the local programs to perform at their highest level by providing assistance in six core areas: Accountability, Awareness, Education, Leadership, Policy and Support. When you support Texas CASA, you are supporting a statewide network of 74 local CASA programs across Texas – all of which support children and youth eligible for adoption. Learn more here: https://texascasa.org/how-to-help/
The information above is meant to be a great starting point. If you are interested in learning more about pre- and post-adoption, The Child Welfare Information Gateway website is a fantastic resource everyone can utilize! CASA volunteers and staff will find many helpful resources and informative adoption-related publications. The website also includes a newly launched National Adoption Month web campaign that seeks to increase national awareness of adoption issues, bring attention to the need for adoptive families for teens and emphasize the value of youth engagement. The campaign has many tools to help spread the word such as social media graphics and wording, as well as a youth voices section with powerful stories that can be used when discussing permanency planning. Here are a few other helpful resources for those working with adoptive families:
- Post-Adoption Services from DFPS
- Differences Between Adoption & Permanent Managing Conservatorship
- DFPS Kinship Manual: For Relatives & Family Friends Raising Children
- State College Tuition Waiver & Education & Training Voucher Program
- 211 Texas: Connecting People & Services
- Community Resource Coordination Groups
- Texas Youth Helpline – 24/7 Hotline for Youth & Families in Crisis
No matter your role or experience with the child welfare system, we can all play an essential part this National Adoption Month. By taking one actionable step, you are helping us reach our vision of a safe and positive future for all Texas children. By attending a foster parenting information session or even sharing this article with a friend – you are helping make a difference and raising awareness for children and youth who need a permanent place to call their own.
Thank you for all that you do.