Teenagers conjure up all kinds of images in our minds … strong, energetic, techy, buoyant, independent, impulsive, emotional, adventuresome and ever-changing.

They are complex human beings who need care, stability and guidance in their lives to become healthy productive adults. This is especially true for teens in foster care. They have faced significant trauma in their young lives – more than many can imagine. They have often come from neglectful or abusive homes. Many have witnessed their parents abusing drugs. Some have lived in inadequate housing. They may have mental health issues of their own.

They are not equipped to go out into the world and live on their own just yet. They need healthy, stable, nurturing parents.

Right now, 820 Minnesota foster children are waiting for families to adopt them. Thirty-nine percent are 12 to 18 years old. Older adolescents are some of the children most likely to enter the foster care system and most likely to stay there the longest. And, they often have younger siblings who need to be adopted with them.

While foster care is critical to providing temporary care to children when their families work through crises, finding a permanent home is the better option.

In 2017, nearly 16,600 Minnesota children were in foster care. Of those who left foster care last year, 64 percent retuned safely home and almost 22 percent were adopted or became part of a relative’s family through permanent, legal, physical custody.

In Minnesota, thousands of children enter the foster care system every year, and those numbers are climbing. And while adoption numbers are increasing as well — with families adopting 955 children last year — that is due, in part, to more children entering our system.

Of those 955 children, families adopted 498 (52 percent) children birth to 5 years old, 321 (34 percent) children 6-11 years old and 136 (14 percent) youth 12-17 years old.

A call has been issued to address the issue of adolescent adoption. Those interested in adopting are encouraged to contact their county social services agency or MN Adopt at www.mnadopt.org or (612) 861-7115 or (866) 303-6276.

November is National Adoption Month.

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