November is National Adoption Month. In Arizona, there are more than 3,668 young adults between the ages of 13–17 in foster care. Many of these youth have spent years in foster care and craving more permanent connections through adoption and mentorship. Supportive and committed relationships are critical in helping teens in foster care prepare and succeed as they enter adulthood. This year, National Adoption Month focuses on helping agencies build more targeted recruitment strategies and develop a continuum of services to support teenagers seeking permanency and for the prospective families or adult mentors considering adopting a young adult, preparing for adoption, or in need of postadoption services. Identifying, informing, encouraging, and helping prospective adoptive families along the path to adoption increases the odds of more young people finding their forever homes.
Last year, AzCA helped make adoption a reality for 395 children! Of those youth, 113 were youth between the ages of 13-18. Being adopted at an older age can seem impossible to teens who have spent their entire lives in the foster care system. For Travis Rael, Recovery Coach for Arizona’s Children Association in Sierra Vista, being adopted at the age of seventeen after being in countless group homes and foster homes helped him find his purpose in life. Travis had people in his life that never gave up on him and who went the extra mile to help him succeed. It is because of these people, he returns that same passion with his work at AzCA; he never turns a child or family away and is willing to put in extra effort to make sure the kids who need us most will get the help they deserve. Travis says “I stand up for these kids because I was one of these kids!”
Youth who turn 18 and “age out” of foster care face a higher risk of homelessness, teen pregnancy and less likely to achieve higher education. Having permanency as an adolescent helps build the necessary life skills required to become successful adults. You can change the fate of our youth and provide that foundation many long for, but may never receive. You can be that significant adult in a youth’s life that makes an impact that lasts forever.
During National Adoption Month, we challenge you to consider becoming a part of a young person’s life.
There are two ways you can impact a life:
- Become a foster/adoptive parent for a teen.
- Become a mentor with our Thrive Mentor Program for teens that are transitioning out of foster care.
You can get started by filling out an interest form at https://www.arizonaschildren.org/contact/ and we will contact you to help you begin your journey to making a difference!
Find out more information about National Adoption Month at https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/nam/about/