This is the reality of foster care today: There are more children in need of foster homes than there are foster families. Unfortunately, there are also more minority children in foster care than there are minority foster families. Every year, more than 25,000 young people age out of the foster care system without the support of a family.
Finding a safe, loving and available home for many children who need one often means that familiarity and routine are disrupted. Kids who enter the child welfare system often face a slew of new and unfamiliar challenges all at once: a new bed to sleep in at night, a new routine, a new neighborhood, a new school, or new classmates, to name just a few.
As the National Foster Care Adoption Director at Bethany Christian Services, I have seen firsthand the disproportionate number of African American children lingering in the foster care system. Of the over 440,000 children in foster care nationally, 44% are white and 23% are black; yet, black children make up only 14% of the U.S. population. The same demographics apply to adoption: 73% of adoptive parents are white, yet only 37% of adopted children are white, according to a Barna study. Of the children adopted from foster care, 63% are adopted by white parents, while only 27% are adopted by black parents, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. And every day, African American kids age out of the foster care system without having been adopted.
My husband Marcus and I have seven children, and the oldest four were adopted from the foster care system. We are proud to be black adoptive parents. But we need more parents of all ethnicities to open their homes and their hearts to children in need.
Although the number of minority families pursuing adoption is low; interestingly enough, a 2017 poll found that adults considering adoption are more likely to be minorities.
To bring more awareness to the need for diverse foster and adoptive families, Bethany partnered with Willie Moore Jr., an actor, producer, radio host, Christian R&B artist and licensed minister from St. Louis. Willie, a former adoptee, is now a passionate adoption advocate. He and his wife Patricia speak at African American churches around the country to dispel some of the myths about adoption – that a person has to be young, rich, married, or a homeowner to be a loving and effective foster or adoptive parent.
“My parents were former sharecroppers,” Willie tells prospective parents. “I often think about what my life would be like if my mother and father thought they didn’t have enough money or the right house to adopt me. I was fortunate that they understood that love is enough, and that every child deserves a home.”
To date, Bethany’s collaborative efforts with Willie Moore Jr has resulted in roughly 300 minority families responding to the call to action.
My husband and I didn’t feel fully equipped to adopt, but we knew that if God calls you to do something, he will equip you. We feel blessed every day that we took that leap of faith to open our home to children in need of a family.
We just need more families to be willing to take that next step. If every church would raise up one family to adopt one child, the body of Christ could solve this crisis alone.
Are you that one?
To learn more about this effort and to get more information, visit www.bethany.org/getkidshome.
Kimberly Offutt is the national foster care adoption director for Bethany Christian Services.
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