Posted tagged ‘adoption’

Teenagers Need Adoption Too – 25 to 30 Foster Homes

July 2, 2008

STORIES FROM CARE GIVERS OF HOMELESS FORMER FOSTER CHILDREN:

Meet Gwendolyn Ross – Mama Gwen – Career Development Specialist – Covenant House New Jersey – Crisis Center

The teenagers need to be adopted to.

“I have seen scars on their body. They’re just chopped, chopped.”

When Mama Gwen tells you stories about her students, you have no choice but to site and listen intently. Her emotions boil over. Tears well up in her eyes. She’s feels their pain and you can’t help but feel it yourself.

“When you hear young people tell you I’ve been in 25, 30 different foster homes Mama Gwen, nobody really cares about me and this is why I’m homeless today.

Because if they cared, even if my grandmother would have cared, or my auntie or uncle but no, they don’t care so they’re homeless. Once they become a teenager seeing like they want the little children. They won’t want a full grown teenager.. They feel like they’re already set in their ways,” Mama Gwen says as she breaks down in tears.

“They want to be adopted as well and they’re labeled. And that’s why you find them before they get here (Covenant House), they’re in the street, they’re sleeping at the train station, they’re sleeping under the train station. They’re sleeping wherever they possibly can because there is nobody, once they’re 18 and it’s ok, you’re case is closed, where do I go from there?

Once they turn 18 years old they don’t even want to hear the word DYFS, they don’t want to be bothered no more. They can only think about what they’ve been through with the state. They have an attitude, they’re angry, they’re hurt and when you say things to them, well DYFS can do this for you now, please Mama Gwen, I don’t wanna hear nothing about DYFS. That is the bottom line. They have to go through anger management. They have to go through all different types of skills to bring them back as a whole person. They’ve just been chopped, chopped. Literally. I have seen students shown me scars on their body.

And I’m thinking to myself, well if you’re with DYFS, why didn’t somebody do something about this? Because, Mama Gwen, (the students tell her) they don’t care and that’s the bottom line. There has to be a change.
If you can’t give them type of foundation, that type of love, don’t take it for the money because in the long run you’re hurting the children.” It’s takes only an instant for the phone to ring and Mama’s back on focus. “He didn’t show up for his interview? Well don’t worry, I’m back and he’s show up this time.” Mama looks up, “Gottta stay on top of these kids all the time.”

Heart Gallery of New Jersey – Aging Out

June 18, 2008

While building towards a comprehensive thesis on “aging out” I’ve been weaving my way from the Heart Gallery’s premise, professional photographers donating their time taking photographers of children in foster care in New Jersey, believing that those photographs would draw interest from prospective families.

That’s been true from day 1. More than 25 million hits on our web site:

www.heartgallerynj.org

Thousands of email inquiries and phone calls to 1.800.99.adopt from people reaching out to help and adopt these kids. More than 130 kids adopted and still more adoptions to be finalized. This is what we dreamed of but never fully comprehended how great the impact would be. Our first shoot of more than 350 kids took place in 2005 with the second shoot in 2007, the “100 Waiting Children”.

The “100 Waiting Children” project, spotlighting those orphans who have been in dyfs foster care the longest, sparked the interest in “aging out”, kids turning 18 without ever having been adopted.

After spending the past two weeks at Covenant House and Raphael’s Life House, I’m seeing statistics and white papers on aging out played out in real life.

Approximately 20,000 youths nation wide age out of foster care each year. According to Mark Courtney, “With the exception of incarcerated youth, foster youth are the only group that is involuntarily separated from their families through government intervention. “

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FACTS

  1. 37% of foster youth aged 17–20 had not completed high school degree
    or received a GED.
  2. They more often suffer from mental health problems.
  3. They more often become involved in crime or are victims of crime.
  4. They are more frequently homeless

1 On Your Own without a Net: The Transition to Adulthood for Vulnerable Populations, edited by D. Wayne Osgood, E. Michael Foster,
Constance Flanagan, and Gretchen Ruth, is forthcoming, University of Chicago Press in fall 2005. The volume is a product of the Network on
Transitions to Adulthood, funded by the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation (www.transad.pop.upenn.edu).


2 F. Wulczyn and K Hislop, “Children in Substitute Care at Age 16: Selected Findings from Multistate Data Archive” (Chicago: Chapin Hall
Center for Children at the University of Chicago, 2001).

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A lot of the kids at Covenant House have mental health problems. Hard to know how much of what they are telling me is the truth or just what they think the truth should be. The majority have no high school diploma, encounter problems with the law, are homeless and move from shelter to shelter. Without a place like Covenant House and the life learning programs they offer, I cannot imagine where these children would be.

This project has to focus on FOUR aspects.

  1. Covenant House – Homeless “Aged Out” youths
  2. Integrity House – Homeless “Aged Out” youths with drug and/or alcohol addiction
  3. Rafael’s Life House – Homeless “Aged Out” youths who are unwed mother
  4. Caregivers, counselors, advisor’s and others who mentor and help these youths