Meet Sam, a 13-year-old boy who was in the U.S. foster care system for three years before being matched with his forever family, adoptive parents Paul and Judy.
Before he was adopted, Sam struggled with school work. He had no one to encourage him and help him to better understand math—his least favorite subject. Now Paul and Sam have developed a system where Sam completes all of his homework before his dad returns home from work. If Sam is stumped by a math problem, he and Paul solve it together. On his last report card, Sam received a “B” in math. His accomplishment is proudly displayed on the family’s refrigerator.
Before he was adopted, Sam had trouble relating to his peers. He had been in seven different foster care placements, and with each one he enrolled in a new school. Sam didn’t bother to make friends because he knew he’d have to say goodbye to them in a couple of months. Paul and Judy found a therapist who would help Sam address and work through some of his attachment issues. His parents also encouraged him to have friends over and they created scenarios so that their son could practice using his social skills. Sam continues to see a therapist, and is making great strides. He recently hosted a sleepover at his house with two classmates.
Before he was adopted, Sam rarely slept more than four hours a night. Paul and Judy were often awakened by his screams and by sounds of Sam wandering around downstairs. His parents soon learned that Sam suffered from recurring nightmares of being abandoned or abused. Paul and Judy developed an evening routine for Sam that included relaxation exercises and reading uplifting books about family. Now Sam has no trouble sleeping through the night—in fact, waking up to his alarm clock has become a bit of a challenge!
There are two main reasons why Sam’s ‘after’ adoption story is so much different than his ‘before’—Paul and Judy. And, sadly, there are thousands of older children in the United States foster care system like Sam who want the chance at a happy ending.
Many of those children are part of a group of siblings that desperately want to stay together. These children often wait more than two years before they can be considered for adoption. After one year in the system, a child’s probability of being adopted drops by 50 percent and continues to steadily drop the longer a child waits. In 2009, 29,471 children aged out of foster care without an identified support system.
AdoptionWorks, a program of Adoptions Together, works to ensure that every child realizes their basic right to a family by facilitating the adoption of school-aged children who are growing up in public foster care in the United States. We focus on providing families interested in older child adoption with the education, training, support and counseling necessary to ensure that they are prepared to meet the challenges of older child adoption.
Since the program began in 2000, AdoptionWorks has placed more than 200 children in permanent, safe and loving families. The program places children from all 50 states with families who are licensed through our agency in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC. Carol Edelstein, the Director of AdoptionWorks, has been with the program since 2001 and has strong relationships with children’s workers across the country.
Parenting this population of children can be challenging, primarily due to the tremendous loss and trauma these children have experienced in such a short span of time. Through the training and support that we provide, every family is given the tools to parent effectively, with confidence, when they adopt an older child. We can help you determine if older child adoption is indeed the right path for your family. Every step of the way, the AdoptionWorks team will be by your side to support you in your adoption journey.
Please plan on attending our next Information Meeting to learn more about AdoptionWorks.
When: Tuesday, March 13, at 7 p.m.
Where: Adoptions Together’s Silver Spring Office
10230 New Hampshire Ave., Suite 200
Silver Spring, MD 20903
Questions? Call our office at 301-439-2900