As a mom, I can’t begin to imagine seeing my children separated from one another. They may fight and drive each other crazy now, but when they grow up, they will appreciate having one another to rely on. Siblings need one another and my heart breaks thinking about the children in the foster care system who are separated from their brothers and sisters.
There are 428,000 youth in the U.S. foster care system and 112,000 are waiting to be adopted. AdoptUSKids’ maintains a national photo listing service for children waiting to be adopted. Since the project launched in 2002, more than 26,000 children who were once photo listed on adoptuskids.org have been adopted and nearly 39,000 families have registered to adopt through the website.
Nevertheless, older youth are disproportionally represented – approximately 43% percent of children and youth photo listed on adoptuskids.org are between 15 and 18 years old, but only 17% of those adopted have been in this age group. This is a particularly sobering fact, especially during the holidays.
As an extension of their award-winning National Adoption campaign, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AdoptUSKids and the Ad Council are unveiling a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) designed to continue to encourage the adoption of children from foster care with an emphasis on the importance of keeping siblings together. Since the launch of the campaign in 2004, more than 22,000 children who were once photo-listed on the AdoptUSKids website are now with their adoptive families and more than 35,000 families have registered to adopt through AdoptUSKids.
Approximately 23 percent of children and youth actively photolisted on the AdoptUSKids website and waiting for placement in adoptive homes were registered with one or more siblings. Sibling relationships are often the longest-lasting relationships for children in foster care.
“The bond between brothers and sisters is critically important, particularly for children in foster care. Being with their siblings can enhance their sense of safety and well-being and provide natural, mutual support,” said JooYeun Chang, Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau. “The message of this new round of PSAs is essential and I look forward to seeing the continued success of the campaign.”
“Adopting Deanta and Ranija is the most important thing that I have done in my life,” said Raenell Crenshaw, an adoptive parent who adopted her two children out of foster care, “I am so glad that my husband and I were able to keep them together. Having a brother or sister is such an influential and life-defining relationship. I want to encourage all prospective parents to think about the importance of keeping siblings together. I am so happy that I welcomed them both into our family.”
The PSAs feature parents participating in activities with their children such as a father trying to build a tree house without carpentry skills, a mom roller blading with her sons even though she is not a skilled skater and a mom and dad accidentally burning their daughter’s favorite breakfast. The objective is to reassure potential parents that all kinds of people have the potential to make a positive impact on a child’s life. All of the PSAs direct audiences to visit AdoptUSKids.org or to call 1-888-200-4005 (English) or 1-877-236-7831 (Spanish) to receive the latest information about the foster care system and the adoption process.
“This campaign has one of the hardest asks in a PSA and the results in the last ten years have been truly extraordinary,” said Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “Thousands of parents have welcomed children into their homes, their families and their hearts. By reminding parents that they don’t have to be perfect to make a lifelong difference in somebody’s life, we look forward to continuing to see the transformative impact of this campaign on families throughout the country.