As of the year 2003 there were over 500,000 children in foster care in the United States. The numbers have only continued to increase. An alarming number of the children currently in foster care will "age out" of the system on their 18th birthday. What this means is that once the child reaches the age of majority, the state basically pats them on the back, hands them a little cash and says, "Hope we taught you how to take care of yourself, have a nice life."
Recently there has been a growing trend to highlight the plight of children in foreign countries and a rise in the number of adoptions from these countries. Today, as I was flipping through the channels, looking for cartoons for my son, I stopped briefly on the Oprah Winfrey show. She was talking to a group of upper class southern families who had adopted older children from a Liberian orphanage.
First, I'm glad that these children will have the love and support of a family to help them develop into solid adults. Second, where were these people when children right here in this country needed that same love and attention?
It frightens me that it seems to be considered a great thing to do, generous and worthy of news attention, when someone adopts a child from a foreign country and yet no one seems to care that we are creating an entire generation of throw-away children.
The states remove these kids from abusive or neglectful homes and they spend the next years of their lives bouncing from place to place, never really knowing the love and support of a family. People are willing to adopt bright eyed babies, but these older children waste into the background of our society.
Where is the call for help for these children? Who will stand up for them and urge those who are financially able and emotionally willing to give them a home and parents to guide them? Why are there no news stories about celebrities adopting boys and girls who were beaten, neglected and overlooked right here at home? Is it just not "hip" enough? Are they not poor enough? Pitiful enough?
It angers me to think that simply because they were born in this country they will live their lives without someone to kiss their hurts away, tell them how proud they have made someone or hold their hands the first time love breaks their heart. I am saddened that we as a nation seem to have forgotten an entire generation of children.
If you read this and it makes you think, take a moment and write to your congressman or woman. Ask them to make finding adoptive families for these children a priority. Write a letter to your local paper asking why no one has taken the time to write about the children in your community who are in need. Call your local news station and ask why there are no stories about the eleven year old girl with no mother to love her. Take the time. Help bring these children out of the shadows.