You are probably used to me writing about India and her children. Today I would like to write about American children who are also desperately in need of a family to call their own, and who are in danger of falling through the cracks and being lost forever without one. I am talking about children in the foster care system who are longing to be adopted.
For years I have worked as a court-appointed advocate for such children, and have been involved with the Heart Gallery of Central Texas. The Heart Gallery aims to find “forever families” for these children. The hardest children to place are teenagers, sibling groups, and those with disabilities or special needs. Recently Tracy Eilers, a friend of mine and director of the Heart Gallery, sent me the following information about a boy, Jarod, who is about to age out of the foster care system and has almost given up hope on a family to call his own. The prospects for kids who age out of the system are grim. As Tracy says, “18 isn’t a good thing for kids in foster care.” Sent out on their own with no one to care for them or teach them how to be an adult in the world, half of these kids end up homeless.
Tracy said, “Week after week, we film segments for Forever Families… week after week, I meet the most amazing kids… and every second of every day I hope beyond all hope that we can make a difference in these kids lives… I don’t know if I have ever hoped so much as for Jarod.” Please see Jarod’s story below – it touched my heart and I hope it will yours too. And if enough people see it, maybe Jarod will find his forever family.
Last year at this time, Jarod was showing off his Junior ROTC uniform for his Forever Families segment. He was 15 and only recently decided he wanted to be adopted. Jarod’s goal was to become sergeant, but he moved from foster home to foster home this year and isn’t in ROTC anymore.
The rest of year has been filled with just as many disappointments, and now his outlook on life is bleak. No 16-year-old should feel this hopeless.
Jarod came in to foster care when he was 10 from his uncle’s house, where there were five kids – Jarod and his sister, and their three cousins. Jarod was the one who had to go into foster care.
He’s had a very hard time trusting adults, and who could blame him? Now he’s 16 and repeating the ninth grade. In two years, he’ll age out of the foster care system. Foster teens on their own are at a higher risk of homelessness and substance abuse. “To me it seems like it’s too late. For life, I guess. When I turn 18 I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said.
Jarod’s anger, frustration and confusion has caused him to give up on adoption. His aunt was going to adopt him, but it wasn’t a good fit. They lived together for a month but kept getting into fights. Now Jarod is in a shelter, where he says things aren’t going well.
“I got in trouble because I broke a door. I feel mad all the time. It’s not foster care. It’s not being adopted. It’s just when I turn 18, what am I going to do? Am I going to be on the streets? I don’t know what I’m going to do. I barely got an education. Ain’t nothing to do,” he said.
Jarod is out of hope. He feels he’s out of time and he has no idea what to do about it. Ask about his future, and he shuts down.
Though he’s given up on himself, he still has another year.
You can learn more about Jarod and other children available for adoption at the Adoption Coalition of Texas.
The Adoption Coalition of Texas is hosting a Foster Care and Adoption Information Meeting Saturday, December 8th at 10:15 am at the Old Quarry Branch Library located at 7051 Village Center Dr. Austin, Texas 78731. The meeting will last no more than an hour.
Call Renee Sassin at 512-687-3208 if you have any questions!