I want to begin this blog with a bit of a disclaimer. I Please don’t hear me saying that I think it’s wrong and terrible and selfish to have biological children. I don’t think that at all. I have a biological child and he is terribly amazing. He looks just like his daddy and acts just like his mama. Poor kid. I think all children are such a blessing and a miracle – no matter what avenue they come to be in your life. I am merely saying that J and I realized early on that the more biological children we had, the less that we would be able to adopt. We made the decision before we got married that we wouldn’t actively try to have biological children. But if you want to have 100 biological children, that’s your prerogative. All I have to say is, God bless your poor uterus. The purpose of this blog is not in any way to chastise those who want biological children – I happen to think that’s an innate desire.
The purpose is to open your eyes a little bit to what’s ahead for kids in the foster system if people like you and I don’t step in and say, “Enough.”
The purpose is to encourage you to help break the cycle.
The purpose is to encourage you to be about creating mini-versions of Christ, whether they come from your gene pool or not.
Since we made the decision to adopt, we’ve been getting awesome questions like these:
“Are y’all going to have more of your own kids?”
“I thought y’all would want to have more of your own.”
“What color are they?”
“Where are they from?”
I have always been a bit of a Sassy McSmarterson. Just ask my mama or J or anyone who has known me for longer than 5.3 seconds. So my answer to these ridiculous questions is, “Um. The boys will be our own kids.” Of course, that’s not really the answer they’re after. What they really want to know is, “Are you going to spit out any more mini-versions of yourselves?” “Don’t you want to have a little girl that looks just like you, Terah?” God, help us if this ever becomes the desire of our hearts. I want to be about making mini-versions of Christ.
Because at the end of the day, if my kids look like me but don’t look a thing like Christ, I’ve failed. I’ve failed miserably.
In case you didn’t know, humans are selfish and vain. This is innate. If you don’t believe me, I’ll let you borrow my almost 3 year old and you will quickly change your mind. I have honestly never understood the great desire (sometimes bordering on obsession) with having biological children. People go to great lengths and spend great amounts of money in order to have biological children. Now I think the entire birthing process is an amazing miracle. And I love that when I look at my Judder-budder, I see his daddy (and a hint of me in his eyes). I think that’s an amazing and beautiful gift. But my life is not more complete because I have a child that looks like my husband (and a little glimmer of me every now and then). But we humans are vain. We are proud when we have offspring that have our best features. One of the first questions we ask after a new baby is born is, “Who does he/she look like?” Or we say, “He looks just like his daddy.” I will never forget the look of pride in J’s eyes as he was making phone calls to alert the world to Jud’s arrival and declaring that Jud was his mini-me. And I don’t think that is in and of itself a terrible, awful thing. I think it’s beautiful, magical even. But I do think we can get too caught up in having mini-versions of ourselves. I don’t know about you guys, but I want more for my kids than that. I think as parents, we are called to do more than perpetuate our own gene pools. Are we not called to make mini-versions of Christ (ehem, disciples)? As parents, is it not our job to help our children “discover and reveal the image of God”? (I stole that line from my bud.)
At the end of the day, if my children do not imitate my Savior, do I really care if they have my eyes or my rock star personality?
For all of those dying to know if I want to physically give birth to any more kiddies, I would be perfectly happy if I didn’t. I mean, let’s be perfectly honest. The birthing process was part of the curse, after all – it’s not meant to be a pleasant experience. But that’s not the only reason I would be perfectly happy with building our family through adoption from here on. I have to believe that if people knew what I know about life for kids in the foster system, then they would want to be involved or at the very least they would understand why having more mini-versions of me and J is not on the top of our bucket lists.
So let me just lay down some numbers about life for children in the foster system for you.
- 408,425 – the number of kids in the system
- 59 – the percent of these kids that are not white
- 3.1 – the average number of placement changes while in the system
- 28,000 – the number of children who aged out of the system without a forever family
- 48 – the percent of children age 10 or older
- 70 – the percent of children in the system who also have siblings in the system
- 29 – the percent of African-American children in the system (keep in mind that African-American children only make up 14% of the U.S. child population)
- 107,011 – the number of waiting children (meaning, they have a goal of adoption and/or parental rights have been terminated – not including kids 16+ whose goal is emancipation)
- 37.3 – the average number of months waiting children are in continuous foster care (that’s a little over 3 years, fyi)
- 13 – the percentage of waiting children living in pre-adoptive homes
- 55 – the percentage of waiting children living in non-relative foster homes
- 8 – the average age of waiting children
- 100,000 – the approximate number of foster kids in the state of California alone
- 65 – the percent of foster kids in CA that leave the system without a place to live
- 1 – the percent of foster kids who earn a college degree
- 33 – the percent of foster kids who age out that will be homeless within 3 years
- 25 – the percent of boys who age out that will end up in prison
- 50-60 – the percent of kids in the system who have moderate to severe mental health problems
- 1 in 4 foster children will be incarcerated within the first 2 years after leaving the system
- Girls in the foster system are 6 times more likely to get pregnant by 21
- Adults who have a history in the foster system suffer from PTSD at 2 times the level of a U.S. war veteran
And this is just the beginning. When we first started this process, our social worker told us that sibling groups and biracial children are the least likely to be placed. Knowing this, how could we just turn a blind eye? How could we just go on with life as usual? How could we continue to pump out a bunch of mini-versions of ourselves and ignore the fact that nearly 108,000 children in our own country are waiting for a family to love them?
If you made it through this blog, dear friend, you can no longer claim ignorance. You can longer pretend that the orphan crisis is in some far off land. You can no longer claim that it’s someone else’s problem. I know that you can’t, because I used to be you. Knowledge comes with great responsibility, dear friends.
Help break the cycle.
Take a stand against the orphan crisis.
Be about making little imitators of Jesus, not just a mini-me.
Here’s a list of my sources. They have way more information than I could possibly contain in one post. The majority of the statistics I posted are based off the most recent AFCARS: