Why Aren’t Teens Adopted?

We always hear about how difficult the process of adopting can be for potential parents, but what about the children? Perhaps the emotional toll of waiting for a family outweighs the legal hardships – being adopted is a major challenge for aging children in foster care.

It’s difficult to wrap your mind around: separated from your siblings, removed from an abusive home, seeing your 16th birthday under the legal custody of a foster home – yet this is reality for thousands of teens across America.  At a time when average teens are wishing for a new car or the latest smartphone, many are simply wishing for a family.

The longer a child remains under protective foster care, the chance of finding a new family significantly shrinks. Consider the current situation in Mississippi, where the average adoption age in 2010 was 6.3-years-old. According to this figure, children 13-years-old and older had a 10 percent chance of being adopted.

What happens to a child who loses their chance for adoption? They’re forced to leave the adoption program at 21-years-old, in many cases not knowing any relatives. Others elect to drop from the program at 18, but it’s mostly a matter of how these young adults will support themselves going forward.

Adoption specialists believe the problem is our mentality about teens – we simply write them off as being set in their ways. Parents still have a major opportunity to make an impression in the life of a foster care teen, teens who want the love of a family above anything else.

Isn’t it time to address the bigger issue in adoption? Every child deserves the love of a family, regardless of age. Here is a chance for would-be parents to make an even bigger difference in adopting a child.

Original story from The Clarion-Ledger.