Olivia Alvord, Staff Writer
When I was around eight or nine years old, my mom asked me if I wanted a little brother or sister. At that time, my brother, who was 14 years older than me, had already moved away to college, and I was pretty much an only child. So of course, I said yes, as I was lonely and wanted someone to play with. My family then joined the foster care program in hopes of adopting a little brother or sister for me, as well as to provide a temporary home for children that needed a safe place. My mom explained to me we couldn’t keep all of the children who stayed at our house at various times, but we were just their temporary home for a while. We ended up adopting two girls, one who we fostered on and off for awhile, and another who was in our temporary care from just two days old until we adopted her after her second birthday.
On Christmas Eve in 2005, we got a call from our social worker who explained that there was a baby girl about to be born, and that they wanted us to be her new foster family. This was the best Christmas present that I would ever receive and seemed to be quite the miracle for us. We went to pick her up just two days after she had been born and she stayed in our foster home until we officially adopted her on Dec. 29, 2007. Although we knew we wanted to adopt her from the day we went to pick her up, the whole process took about two years to be completed. This is because of the very common waiting period of about 18-24 months provided to locate the father and/or verify Indian heritage of the child.
Almost a year after my middle sister had become an official member of our family, we received another call from the social worker saying that they had a nine-month-old who would be placed under our care. She stayed with us on and off for about two years, going back to her birth mother in between. Throughout those two years of bouncing around, we were trying to gain adoption rights, but again there was a waiting period as well as the debate on whether her birth mother was able to gain custody of her. Eventually, we were able to bond with her and create a loving home that would be hers forever when we officially adopted her on Dec. 28, 2009.
When filling out the form for preference of age groups, my mom picked zero to six years old as she loved the younger ages. Like my younger sister, a lot of the children that were placed in our care bounced back-and-forth from us to someone else. A lot of times, it was their birth parent, and back to us again, which is a very common occurrence in the foster care system. At one point, we had six kids under six-years-old in our care because there was just no other place that they were able to go.
According to adoptivefamilies.com, there were “111,820 children in the U.S. foster care system that were waiting for permanent, loving families as of 2015 and of that number, only 53,549 children were adopted from foster care.” Many children go through the foster care system in the United States, but only about half are taken in and adopted by loving families. In addition, according to buildyourfamily.com, “more children become available for adoption each year than are adopted.” So, what can we do to change this? Because November is Adoption Awareness Month, I wanted to share my family’s story with adoption from foster care in hopes that it would inspire others to think about the thousands of children that end up in foster care each year that could use a loving, forever family. If you have any questions about foster care and adoption, there are plenty of resources out there to help, you just have to make the first move. There are so many children out there that are waiting for a loving family to take care of them and it could be you.