Recently, The Sun reported about a new state initiative to prepare youth for life after foster care (“Preparing foster teens for life,” Aug. 20). While helping children in foster care gain the skills they need as adults is good thing, the right thing to do is help them find a permanent family.
At the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, we are doing just that. Our child-focused recruitment model, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids (WWK), works for all children who are waiting to be adopted from foster care. And the children in Florida and across the nation who have been labeled “unadoptable” — older youth, sibling groups, and children with special needs — are three times more likely to get adopted through our program.
Of the 883 children in foster care in Maryland, more than 40 children have had dedicated efforts to find homes, and 16 children have been adopted or are in permanent placement simply waiting for a court hearing to make their families final. While on the surface this number may seem less than impressive, consider that there is only one WWK recruiter working to serve the state’s longest-waiting children — those who previously were thought by others to be “unadoptable.”
The state of Ohio so enthusiastically believes in this foster care adoption model that it recently partnered with us to ensure that the children in the state’s foster care system most at risk of aging out are served through our program.
The goal shouldn’t be to simply prepare youth in foster care for emancipation. We must work harder to find every child a permanent adoptive family to call his or her own. As one former foster youth told us, “you are never too old to want a family.” And no one should settle for anything less. We won’t.
Rita Soronen, Columbus, Ohio
The writer is president and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
Earlier today, I read your essay about taking your adopted daughter to China to get her some answers about her adoption. I noticed that the comments are overwhelmingly positive, and also that they are overwhelmingly from other parents. I’m a parent, too, but I am writing to you as an adoptee, not as a dad.
I won’t beat around the bush: your essay upset me. Angered me, even, at first. Because it simplifies the issue of adoption and suggests that answers can be gotten from a quick trip to the birth land and a photograph. Then I realized I wasn’t truly angry but sad.
I wish I could make you see how much you are leaving out, how you are giving your daughter and future adoptive parents the wrong (and perhaps harmful) impression. That there are “answers” that can set someone at peace with being adopted. Peace for an adoptee does not come from seeing the place she was left. (Or even, I might argue, how or why.) I know this. Peace is not about answers. As far as I can tell, from everything I have learned and questioned about myself, it is about accepting that there will always—always—always be questions. The answers are never really answers….