- November 24, 2014
Post submitted by Thomas Davis, HRC Foundation Youth Ambassador
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Youth Well-Being Project’s Youth Ambassadors represent the HRC Foundation and help to raise awareness about its youth-focused programs to a wider audience, and add their voices and experiences to many of the Foundation's programs, including All Children, All Families, Welcoming Schools, Youth and Campus Engagement, and the annual Time to THRIVE conference.
According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, there were 402,378 youth ages 20 and younger in the American foster care system in 2013. Throughout 2013, 254,904 entered foster care and 238,280 left. Out of all those exiting foster care, only 140,719 were united with their parents, primary caretakers or other relatives. Of those remaining in foster care, only 50,608 were adopted.
I was adopted and recently started learning more about the foster care system. As I looked at these numbers, I thought about how my birth mother became pregnant, what she had to go through with her family and my birth father and how her struggles led her to make an adoption plan for me. The plans were arranged before I was born because my birth mother knew she couldn't provide for me all on her own without any assistance. I consider myself very lucky to have had a mother that wanted the best for me, even if that meant not having me in her life. The family I've known my whole life has been amazing. My parents have been able to provide me with everything I've needed to pursue my dreams and passions. They've given me opportunities that I couldn't have had if I had been raised by my birth mother. They’ve always encouraged me to reach out to her whenever I've wanted to. Even through our major differences, from our ethnicity to our political and spiritual beliefs, they have always loved me and accepted me.
I’ve been one of the lucky ones. As I’ve learned more about the foster care system, I’ve thought about the many other children who have stories like mine, and how in the end, all those stories seem to amount to just a statistic. I thought about those who are not as fortunate as I was to have had an adoption arranged before birth. I thought about those who had parents that were deemed unfit to care for them, about the disproportionate number of LGBT youth that were disowned or abandoned by their families for who they are, and how over half of these youth in foster care will be waiting for a home for two years or more.
You cannot make families or individuals adopt, but we can open the door to those who want to. With marriage momentum sweeping the nation, now is the perfect time to accept the numerous LGBT couples wanting to start families. More and more families can now legally provide a child with a loving home with all the opportunities their birth parents couldn't. HRC’s All Children - All Families project work to improve this system and extend opportunities and I am proud to be a part of it.