Friday, November 6, 2009
The Hardest Job You Will Ever Love
Amy and Sarah were two and three when they were found wandering in their diapers in a K-Mart parking lot. Phillip was three and his sister Katie was nine when their mother abandoned them at a bus stop. At ten months old, Olivia never cried because no one had ever come to pick her up.
These, and thousands of neglected, abandoned and abused children come in to Arizona's foster care system each year. For most, there's a happy ending. Their biological parents put their lives together and their children come home. Loving grandparents or relatives step up to raise them. Caring adults become their adoptive parents.
For others, growing up in a loving family remains an empty dream. There are more than 200 children in Arizona's foster care system waiting for their forever family. Those who never find permanency often lead troubled lives. They are less likely to graduate from high school, and face greater risks for homelessness, imprisonment and reliance on welfare.
While I would love to urge every reader to go out and adopt a child from the foster care system, it is neither realistic nor practical for many. What is very doable, however, is to connect with a child in the state's foster care system and be their friend and mentor. Help them do their math homework and take them out to a movie. Throw a barbecue for the residents in their group care facility. Introduce them to your family and friends and let them know they need adoptive families. Find a way to help.
For those special few who are moved to adoption, get started. While adopting a child from foster care can be very challenging, in the words of many adoptive parents I know, "It's the hardest job you will ever love."
Visit www.adoptuskids.org to see featured pictures and short biographies of more than 12,000 children in need of a forever family. There is usually little or no cost to adopt children from the foster care system, and training is available to help new parents through the adoption process.
Foster and adoptive parents have a special calling. You know who you are. You're not any smarter or more dedicated than anyone else. You just know in your heart that vulnerable children need your help and you respond. Celebrate national adoption month this November by visiting the Arizona's Children Association website at www.arizonaschildren.org and getting started. The children need you.
President and CEO
Arizona's Children Association