Waiting Children

by Brenda Applequist

Bill Clinton, Marilyn Monroe, Jesse Jackson, and Louis Armstrong all have something in common. They have each contributed their talents and gifts to society in their own way but yet each share the common bond of adoption (Adoption Open). Adoption is a word used rather lightly in our society. You can adopt a pet, adopt a mile or even adopt a family for Christmas. What does adopt actually mean? According to the American Heritage College Dictionary, it means to take into one’s family through legal means and raise as one’s own child. Waiting Children is the term used to describe older kids in foster care who wait for a “forever family” of their own. No matter the age or special needs of the child, all children deserve a permanent place to call home.

In the United States there are 123,000 kids waiting in foster care for a family to call their own. Most of these kids have been waiting for more than five years (Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption). In Minnesota there are six hundred and fifty kids who need someone to call mom and dad. About one in five of these kids will turn eighteen without ever having a family to call their own (MnAdopt.org).

By the time a child in the foster care system becomes available for adoption, he or she will have experienced overwhelming grief due to multiple losses, abandonment, and abuse. It is not unusual for a child to live in a number of different homes while in foster care. These negative life experiences make it hard for a child to trust or bond with an adult caregiver. Even though they live with such sadness and angst, these are typical children wanting the same things other kids do. Their basic desire is for someone to stick by them no matter what. They want to wake up in the same bed every day knowing they’ll go to sleep in the same bed that night.

“Permanence is a fundamental requirement for healthy development of a child” (Iowa Department of Human Services). Some older kids in the Iowa Foster Care System were asked to describe permanency:

“A place where you belong.”

“A place to call home where you feel safe and secure and accepted.”

“It’s a place that you can call home that will still be there in the morning.”

Imagine going to bed every night praying for a mommy and then going to school the next day and trying to learn algebra or how to measure ingredients for a cake. Despite having to live in such confusion these kids persevere day to day in the hopes that soon they’ll get that call. As time goes on, the feelings of fear and worthlessness grow.

Would our world be the same without the contributions of Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, or George Washington Carver? These are a few more successful and famous people who have been adopted. Would their contributions have been so great if they had always been thinking about wanting to be wanted? Would they have been able to spend the time to develop their gifts and talents if they had always been looking around the next corner for a family or, worse yet, if they had finally given up hope?

There are many ways to become involved in a child’s life. Are you able to adopt a waiting child? According to AdoptUsKids.org, it would take less than one percent of the U.S. population to provide a family for every child in the foster care system. [Adopt US Kids]

Become a friend or mentor to a child in the foster care system. Many of these kids haven’t had enough opportunities to trust and rely on an adult. Any chance they get to practice this skill makes it easier to bond to a parent.

Visit a website of “waiting children” and become familiar with the faces of the kids who wait. Every state has a website of photolistings for waiting children.

Open your eyes to the world of adoption around you. Adoption advertisements are everywhere: billboards, bus stops, and fast food restaurants. Children who wait to be adopted are everywhere: schools, parks, and libraries.

Do you have room in your family for a child who waits and prays? Could you be the answer to her prayer? Could you be his hope?

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2 Responses to “Waiting Children”

  1. Thesaurus Says:

    Very persuasive, makes me want to do something to help. I truly am lucky to have my family, and this reinforces my gratitude feelings. I want to help.

  2. Olga Frederick Says:

    This sentence is so touching: “It’s a place that you can call home that will still be there in the morning.”

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