An estimated 25,000 kids age out of of foster care in the U.S. every year.
Nearly 22,000 kids in New York State are in foster care. More than 1,000 of them are waiting to be adopted. But, as foster kids get older, their chances of finding a family diminish.
Jef is a native of Honduras. He spent nearly half of his life in foster care. He was 8 and 1/2 when he was placed there. And it wasn’t until he was 17 that adoption became a reality for him. It took four years of paperwork, but at 21, he now has a dad. Jef says it was tough as a kid to see his peers get adopted while he waited.
“I remember crying and everything and I was like how can I never be happy like that?”
It’s not easy for an older kid to get adopted. According to You Gotta Believe, and organization that works to find families for young adults in foster care, 25,000 people age out of foster care every year in the U.S. The group’s Susan Grundberg, says it’s common for older youth to lose hope, but stories like Jef’s provide inspiration.
“That’s really the most powerful voice and it’s about changing hearts and minds.”
Grunberg says it’s also about changing lives. She says kids who age out of foster care are less likely to graduate college and more likely to end up homeless.
Jef’s dad, Guy, says he has no regrets about adopting an older youth, and encourages others to consider opening up their homes and lives.
“Open your mind to it, because there’s a lot of love out here we all have a lot of love to give and we all can receive so much love. I feel so loved by my son.”