Arizona Adoption Crisis

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There is, what I would call, an adoption crisis, in Arizona. I have been procrastinating writing about this for a while. It’s a topic that stirs my heart and scares me (and my husband) to death.

Two things have kept me from sharing this important information with you 1) children who live around us are in difficult (life-threatening) situations and it seems that not enough healthy (capable) families are stepping up to take care of them! 2) children in crisis live around ME and my family isn’t doing anything to help.

See, I’m talking about something that I’m not doing myself, so let’s explore this together, shall we?

A few weeks ago, I sat down with the Louchheim’s, a Scottsdale family who has fostered and then adopted two children and is fostering a third, a baby my son’s age. This family has raised two adult children and has a teenager still in their home. These are biological children. Most people would consider them “done” with the kid-thing. In fact, I rarely (yes, it certainly happens) hear about adoption as a means to grow on family apart from infertility. And, since I’m being honest, we certainly have not seriously considered it for our family. I tend to be of the “well, it’s good for YOU” bend and not the “I’ll consider this my responsibility as well”.

Sure, we can hold folks like the Louchheim’s up and say that they are exceptional people (because they are), they are different, special, can “handle more” than the average family. Maybe they can. But they would say that they are just like you. They are normal people. They work. They have a house. They eat out. Nothing crazy. Just normal.

What made them decide to be foster parents? Why did they adopt? They were transformed by a faith in Jesus Christ, is how they explain it. They lived the Scottsdale-Party life for years. The life they let was driven by alcohol. (No, it’s not now. They’ve been sober for 10 years!) When they came to accept that Jesus died on the cross so they wouldn’t be separated from God for eternity, He gave them the tools to live differently. Robbie said, “I was living for myself. Indulging in everything I wanted. Food. Alcohol. I was never satisfied. In Christ, I am able to focus on Him and get the focus off of myself.” Understanding where they came from, and their decision to live their life for others is inspiring to me.

If you were to see them now, with their children, after hearing where they came from, the only answer for the joy you’d see is that of a miracle. But what is equally amazing is to hear about the baggage that these little ones start off with! A newborn, who’s mother test positive for drugs receives a case worker, a lawyer, a guardian ad litem, a foster parent and on and on. A new baby with a ton of baggage. They haven’t chosen this situation, it has been chosen for them. And the number of children in Arizona need of a home is staggering.

Take a look at these facts:

  • Currently, there are 10,500 children in the foster care system.
  • There are close to 350 children statewide who wait in care with a legal plan of adoption but currently have no identified family interested in adopting them.
  • In Maricopa County, approximately 80 children a week are removed by Child Protective Services from their homes.
  • Emergency shelters are frequently the only place available for these children to be placed.
  • There are approximately 115 foster kids living in a shelter in Maricopa County (about 30 are 12 years and under).
  • 68 percent of teens age 13-17 remain in a shelter or receiving home for more than 21 consecutive days.
  • On average, a child with a case plan goal of “adoption” spends 27 months in out-of-home care and averages 3 different home placements.
  • Last year approximately 700 youth-aged out of foster care without a permanent family connection in their life.
    Source

One thing not mentioned here is that adopting a child through the state of AZ cost the parents nothing, adoption of foster children give parents insurance for their adoptive children until they are 18 years old.  They also (in most cases) will continue to receive state subsidy until their adoptive child is 18.  The subsidy is not much at all and certainly should and could not be a reason for adoption, but it doesassist the family.

Does this stir your heart? Do you want to know more? This Saturday, February 11 from 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM at Scottsdale Bible Church is your chance. You’ll see me there.

At Wait No More, Finding Families for Arizona’s Waiting Kids  you’ll hear more about the kids who are waiting, the process of adoption from foster care and ways to support adoptive families.  In addition, agency and county representatives will be on site to answer questions and help you get started. Click here to learn more. Click here to register for the conference.

I’m going to explore what I can do. Will you join me?

10 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Joy! It was such a JOY meeting you this morning. I must tell you, I rushed home to read this article after you mentioned it during prayer time today. For months, if not years, I, too, have been feeling the confusing mixture of emotions about this issue: sadness, guilt, conviction, fear, shock (at the staggering need). It is such a challenge for me to go outside my comfort zone and embrace this growing need, even though my husband is chomping at the bit to bring home a dozen or so kids ranging from newborns to high-school aged children. He would bring them all home if he could. Every. Last. One of them! I love his heart and yet, as the primary care giver in our home, I can’t help but think. . . . .”Am I REALLY ready for this? How can I possibly give these kids what they need? Am I emotionally strong enough to help them sort through the baggage they carry ?” I do not know the answers to these questions. But I do know that these children are God’s children first. And I know that we are called to take care of those who have less than what we have. So, Joy, I accept your challenge. Hubby and I registered for the Wait No More, Finding Families for Arizona’s Waiting Kids seminar over a month ago and we will be there to learn more and pursue whatever it is He has for us. I will look for you there. Until then, thank you for highlighting this issue on the blog; your transparency is quite refreshing! – Kate Holwerda

  2. Joy, Thank you so much for helping communicate the need for foster and adoptive parents in Arizona! Your readers can find out more at CFCare.org or actually see some specific kids available for adoption at ConnectOneNow.org. We will see you this Saturday! Christian Family Care will have a major presence at the Wait No More conference as we partner with Focus on the Family to bring this event to Arizona.

    If you are unable to come Saturday, join us at Phoenix First Assembly on Tuesday Night at 7pm (yes, Valentines Day!) for an Encore Performance of “A Life Connected” – more info at cfcare.org/events

  3. Hi Joy,

    I’m a foster mom through CFC and I just happened upon your article via Facebook and when I got to the end where you mention Scottsdale Bible Church I got so excited because your church donated so much money to our agency that every family received a $75 gift card for each child towards presents for Christmas! We were so touched by the generosity. Thank you to your church!
    Your article is fantastic and yes we do need more Christian foster homes but one thing I will say is this ministry thrives on clinging to the cross. It is an amazing mixture of joy and sorrow. We would not recommend it to those who do not feel called by our Lord.

    God bless 🙂

  4. Joy,

    Thank you for this article! I stumbled upon it through a friend who had posted it on FB. My husband and I have talked about this for years (even when we lived in CO 4 years ago)! It has really been on my heart and I feel so passionately about it but we have never acted on it because of my fears. My husband came home yesterday and told me to go to K Love events, Wait No More. I went to the site and started to cry. I prayed last night and asked God if He was really leading us down this path and when I woke up this morning there was an email from CFC about this weekends event. I registered for the event and we are going to go. Then, I got on FB and saw this article!!

    Thank you again for being so honest about such a big need for God’s children.

    Kim

  5. I always love to read articles that bring attention to the great need in our community. I have recently started a blog about our fostering experiences and hope that it grows into a resource for other foster and adoptive families as well. I’d love it if you checked it out!

    ~Jess @ fosteringinthedeepend.blogspot.com

  6. Hello to another Joy! I saw a friend as well as Christian Family Care repost this article so I had to take a look. For all those not yet ready to foster for whatever reason (too young, too broke, God has told you to wait) but who have a heart for foster kids like I do, there are tons of things you can do! Don’t think that fostering is the only way to help!

    One thing that my boyfriend and I do is volunteer at Royal Family Kids’ Camps (age 6-11) and Teen Reach Adventure Camps (age 12-17) each summer (see website for more info). You can also be a CASA and advocate for a certain kid’s rights in the courts, help a foster family financially like is mentioned in the comments above, or provide respite (essentially, babysitting) care…and there’s tons more. Get in touch with Christian Family Care and they will plug you in where you can help!

    And check out the performance of A Life Connected next Tuesday night at Phoenix First Assembly. I saw it last week and will be going again to bring others…it was amazing. I didn’t understand why everyone wasn’t leaving sobbing like I did. If you’re called to it, you’ll feel it.

  7. Most have already said some of what I’m going to say, but I can’t thank you enough for putting this kind of information in such a public place! My husband and I, even before we were engaged, discussed the desire we had to foster/adopt a family along with our own biologically! God had bigger and better plans than we could possibly imagine and we are so grateful to have adopted three BEAUTIFUL gifts of LIFE through state foster/adopt program! We are BLESSED to “take care of His orphans” and to “father the fatherless.” Can’t imagine things any other way, that too, said after we’ve lost and physically buried several of our own biologically for a total of 6 losses! We can’t imagine having our life any other way than with OUR three! Our first is adopted from another state, the other two are from here, and when my husband and I moved from midwest to “southwest” we could not BELIEVE the amount difference in “waiting” children! It just broke our hearts! We’ve since taken a short “sabbatical” to try ONE MORE TIME to have our own biologically, but our hearts are to go BACK to where we belong in foster care! THANK YOU for posting on this much needed topic! I can totally understand why it took you a bit to post about it! I admire you for doing so! GOD BLESS!

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