National Adoption Month: Children In Need Of Forever Homes

I remember when we use to send messages clear across the classroom wishing we wouldn’t get caught.  Back then we used pencil and paper.  The notes usually went like this “do you like me yes or no” or “will you be my girlfriend check yes or no”?

Yes, back then we communicated using complete words.  Shorthand was used by doctors and for dictation purposes only.  Today my daughter and many other youth use short hand or shall I say text messages and web codes using 140 characters or less to include instagrams.  Long gone are the scribbled notes of the past and the fear of her teachers calling home because a note was found as it passed from row to row.  It has been replaced with the fear of us, her parents checking text messages, Instagram, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts before she has a chance to delete the evidence.

My daughter is one of the fortunate ones. She has parents that care about her so much we invade her privacy by checking text messages, attending parent teacher conferences and creating an environment which makes her feel safe; safe enough to discuss the “do you like me” text messages and other things that take place in and around school.

My daughter has a loving home and has grown up in a forever family all her life.  She resides with her two moms and spends weekends with her dad.  Today, there are still over 100,000 children in foster care waiting to find their forever homes. These children deserve a family who will love them for who they are.  They deserve a family that will care enough to check on them, love them enough to invade their privacy if necessary, and hold them close enough to make them feel safe.

While the total number of children in care has decreased in the last decades due to an emphasis on kinship care, over half of children still linger in care for more than two years and 25,000 children are shuttled through multiple placements until they age out of care without ever finding a permanent home.  Adoptive families, like all families, come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes including two moms, two dads, and everything in between. But in many states, not all potential parents are allowed to step forward to open their homes to our nation’s foster children. Some states prohibit unmarried couples from adopting together; other states prevent same-sex parents from both creating legal relationships with their children.

The Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDF) is a federal bill that would prevent states from discriminating in adoption and foster care on the basis of potential parents’ sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status. ECDF would open up more homes to children across the country awaiting a forever family. So, this November as we celebrate National adoption Month, let’s take a moment to celebrate the families across the country who have opened their hearts and homes and become loving forever families to millions of children.  Remember adoptive families come in all shapes and sizes.

(Kaali Cohen works with organizations advocating for special populations in the child welfare system and homeless youth. She has worked with many agencies in New Jersey, and Pennsylvania as a trainer, and strategic program developer, helping them improve youth services, housing and advocacy programs.)