By Dillard Spring (CHSNC.org) and Robert B. Butler (RBButler.com)
Recently released figures show a huge jump of 10.4% in youth aging out of foster care in North Carolina in 2016 compared to 2015. These are the highest numbers since data compilation began 16-years ago in mid-2000.
“I’m a firm believer that people should consider adopting older children,” said Joni Morris of Lexington, NC. “They want to be loved and accepted. That’s what everybody wants. They deserve a chance in life, an opportunity to have a future and a forever family. I believe that with my whole heart. It’s so sad they were thrown a curve ball.”
Already with four biological children, Tim and Joni Morris were inspired to adopt Scott, at age 18, and Scott’s sister Casey, at age 16. “I felt like the world was going to turn its back on me,” said Scott, describing the feeling as a young man aging out of a group home without a family. “I felt like the people that I knew were just going to throw me out.”
Youth aging out of foster care without the support structure of a safe, permanent, and loving family, face tremendous odds transitioning successfully into adulthood. Challenges frequently include an absence of mentorship, homelessness or inadequate housing, incomplete education, a cycle of low paying or no jobs, early parenthood, health issues, hopelessness, substance abuse, and sometimes, incarceration.
In and out of foster care and group homes since age 11, Scott “didn’t think about dreaming,” and could not see a future. “I would most likely be living on the street, and that’s a scary thought. It was very difficult to deal with. Actually, I didn’t know how to deal with it.”
Following his adoption by the Morris family, Scott completed high school and is now in his third-year apprenticeship with Salem Electric. After one more year, Scott will take his test and become a certified electrician.
With a permanent family, an education, and bright career prospects, Scott is now able to dream. “Hopefully, I will get a house on my own and focus on making a family,” said Scott. “The help of a family who has been through a lot in the world is helping me a lot. It’s a lot of wisdom poured into me.”
“They’re good, solid human beings and are going to add so much to society,” said Joni. “I love them. I love them like they’re my very own children. Adoption has completed our family.”
“I can’t say enough good things about Children’s Home Society of North Carolina,” said Joni. “They loved my kids, they loved Scott and Casey and wanted to make sure this was a fit for all. With the social workers from DSS, they all came together to help us in this process and make this adoption happen.”
To learn more about the foster care and adoption crisis in North Carolina and how you can help, Children’s Home Society will host its annual A Place to Call Home banquets in:
- Raleigh NC on April 27, 2017
- Charlotte NC on May 11, 2017
- Greensboro NC on May 18, 2017
The featured speaker will be Steve Pemberton, mentally and physically abused for eleven years, aged out of foster care, and now a Fortune 500 executive with Walgreen’s. Pemberton will share his incredible story from despair to success, and the tremendous impact of small acts of kindness by other people in his life. For more information, www.chsnc.org/donate-today/a-place-to-call-home.
“Foster care and adoption are in a state of crisis,” said Brian Maness, President and CEO of Children’s Home Society of North Carolina, the state’s largest private provider of foster care and adoption services. “Foster care has been growing at an alarming rate with a shortage of permanent, safe, and loving homes for adoptable children.”
Founded in 1902, Children’s Home Society serves over 20,000 children and families in all 100 counties in North Carolina.
For information about Children’s Home Society, visit www.chsnc.org.