Approximately 100,000 children in the US have parents whose rights have been terminated or surrendered. The government assumes the responsibility to find these children a forever family.
Orphan Sunday is right around the corner on November 13! Not everyone is called to adopt or foster, but we can all do something. Today you will learn who our nation’s orphans are, and whether you are an adoptive or foster parent in need of support or called to put your arm around those who are, Dr. Sharen Ford provides several tools to equip you to “do something!”
- Focus on the Family’s Orphan Care — General information about how FOTF serves orphans and children in foster care.
- Wait No More Conference — Find out how you can help children in the foster care system in your state!
- Orphan Sunday — Join The Forgotten Initiative in prayer on Sunday November 13!
Adoption and Orphan Care at Focus on the Family
This team works to help provide resources to the foster care community in two main ways: Wait No More Conferences and Post-Adoption Resources. Post-Adoption Resources include “W.R.A.P.” booklets (Wrestle in prayer, Respite care, Acts of service and Promises of God) that provide specific ways to encourage adoptive families.
Another part of Post-Adoption Resources includes several scholarship opportunities. One is for clinicians to obtain TBRI certification (an attachment-based, trauma informed intervention designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children). Interested clinicians can contact Sharen to request information about the training. They also provide scholarships for the Refresh conference that takes place in Redmond, Washington, for adoptive couples to get away for a weekend to be refreshed and renewed.
Wait No More
Every year, Focus on the Family holds four Wait No More conferences around the country (suggest your state!) to promote the importance of foster care and adoption, as well as inform attendees specific information about their state regarding the process. The one day, free conference includes prayer, praise and worship, and a slate of speakers. Sharen speaks about specifics of the adoption from foster care process. Lunch is included, as is a bag of resources. Attendees can then interact and connect with local organizations who provide resources to foster and adoptive families in the community.
The Kids in Foster Care
For most of the more than 400,000 children in the US foster care system, the goal is to be returned to their family of origin—this is called reunification. However, for about 100,000 of these children, parental rights have been terminated or surrendered. It then becomes the government’s task to find a forever family for the child or sibling group—the goal being to keep siblings together in both foster and adoptive families.
Sunday, November 13, has been designated Orphan Sunday to raise awareness about orphans and waiting children. The Forgotten Initiative wants your help to cover the entire 24-hour period in prayer. Join us in praying!
Who is a Waiting Child?
Using the state of Kentucky as an example, Sharen shares information about typical “waiting children.” (Kentucky will have a Wait No More conference on November 12)
- 350 children whose parents’ rights have ended and are looking for families
- more boys than girls
- all colors and hues
- often part of sibling groups of 2-5 children
- have been in care an average of two years
- most are victims of neglect, not abuse
- they are not in the foster care system because of their own behavior
These are children in our schools and communities—they are the “hidden kids” that most people do not know about.
For parents interested in becoming a foster and/or adoptive parent, the first priority is being open to God’s will for your life. Be ready for invasive questions about you, your family and your desire to adopt or foster a child. These questions enable the agency workers do their job—which is to place the child in a safe home. Agency workers care, weep and hurt for the kids in their supervision—they want to do the right thing for the children.
It’s hard to ask for help, so adoptive parents are encouraged to build their support network prior to adopting. Line up trustworthy friends who can and will provide meals, cook, take you out for coffee, give you a break. Focus on the Family’s “W.R.A.P.” booklet enables adoptive parents let friends and family know how best to support them. Another resources, “A Servant’s Heart,” DVD speaks specifically to churches about ways to encourage and support foster and adoptive parents. All of these strategies are to help prevent isolation, which is a natural, but damaging, reaction for when things get hard.
Meet Our Guest: Dr. Sharen Ford
Dr. Sharen Ford has worked in the field of child welfare for over 30 years. In 2013, she retired from the State of Colorado as the Manager for Permanency Services, Division of Child Welfare. In that position, she oversaw the foster care and adoption programs including recruitment and retention of foster and adoptive parents, the Interstate Compact of the Placement of Children and the Interstate Compact on Adoption Medical Assistance. In June 2014, she joined the Adoption & Orphan team at Focus on the Family and currently serves as the Director. Dr. Ford has one daughter, who also works in the child welfare field.
Meet Our Host: Jami Kaeb
Jami Kaeb is a dreamer and a coffee lover! She is married to Clint and the mother of seven–five through adoption. It was through a difficult season of waiting, that Clint and Jami’s eyes were opened to the foster care community. They became foster parents to three siblings who they eventually adopted, and in April of 2011, Jami founded The Forgotten Initiative. Jami views life as a great adventure with Jesus and desires simply to know Him more and share His love with those who feel forgotten.
Follow Jami’s personal blog for real life perspective on parenting seven children!