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.