F.G. is an 11 year old male brought into shelter by owner surrender. This male was in shelter and foster care from age 9 months to 5 years. Previously adopted by his third foster family, these new owners decided to release him in March. F.G. has recently been rehomed with one of his original foster families. Adoption is pending.
Sounds a bit like animals in pet shelters or when animals are “rehomed” through internet ads (I might be reading adopt-a-pet websites too much). What happens when it’s an “unwanted child”? Currently, in all but six states, “rehoming” a child is within the law. Adoptive parents can sign paperwork to transfer a child to another family without a lawyer or child protective services involvement. It’s not clear how often this takes place as the numbers can’t be tracked. (On the other hand, “disrupted adoptions” that occur before the adoption becomes finalized happen 10-20% of the time time.)
The First Guy has been visiting with my sister over the summer and living with her since right before our family vacation in August. He has had tremendous transition to a new family structure, new expectations and rules, new siblings, and a new school system. When asked by a therapist how he feels about his upcoming adoption, The First Guy replied, “I don’t care. I’ve been through it before.” Powerful words when an 11-year-old does not care to have a family. He does not know “forever.” It is lost and must be learned. Trust is broken and must be earned. Anger simmers and must be released. Hurt roils and must be forgiven. There is much work to be done. Yet, my sister has a heart full of love and forever is forever in this family. This Friday, The First Guy will join his forever family.
It’s National Adoption Month. There are 108,000 children “legally free” for adoption and waiting for a “forever family” in shelters, in foster homes (some great and others not as ideal), in group homes (which are rarely ideal) and in facilities. We cannot let our future contractors, doctors, plumbers, lawyers, machinists, engineers, senators, and CEOs wallow childhood away without having a family. We cannot let children continue to “age out” of the “system” and face adulthood without family to celebrate their graduations, toast their weddings, or hold their grandchildren. Children need to know the power of love, the stability of love and the unconditional quality of love.
Consider adoption this month if you can. If you or your home is not “open” at this time, then find a way to help others make a difference. You might donate to nonprofits doing adoption work. Make a meal for a foster or new adoptive family. Advocate for changes in the systems that will help adoptions, such as tax breaks for adoptions or supporting legal fees. Do not turn your eyes and walk past. You can Be the Change in the world of a young child. Be or support a Forever Family.