But at the end of the day, there is still 15,000 in state care.
Advocates believe that the only way to make a significant dent in that number is to have large numbers of families step forward to provide “forever” homes for them.
Of the children in Georgia’s foster care system, 2,200 are destined for adoption.
About 250 of them are classified as “special needs” because they are African Americans children older than a year, are part of a sibling group who need to be placed together, are eight years and older, or have physical, emotional or mental disabilities.
For the last four years, CrossRoadsNews and the Mall at Stonecrest have partnered with the Adoption Unit of the State Division fo Children Services to focus attention on the children living in foster care and hoping for permanent homes.
More than 51 percent of the children in state custody are African Americans, but the state does not have enough African American families looking to adopt.
Shamim Neal-Baccus, the state adoption recruitment manager, says that while African-American children dominate the state’s foster care system, the number of African-American families seeking to adopt is relatively miniscule.
She says many people are unaware of the plight of the children in state custody, but that many more think they have to be perfect people with large homes and lots of money to adopt.
“People think they wouldn’t qualify to adopt,” she said. “There are a lot of myths about how much it costs, what kind of house they have to live in, how much money they have to make.”
But she said the state is just looking for ordinary people with a desire to include a child in their family and care for it like their own.
Because there are all types of children seeking “forever families,” she says all types of adults are needed.
The three families profiled on B4 and B5 show that regular people can adopt. Two of the families are headed by single women and and one is a same-sex couple.
Adopting a child can take from six weeks to 10 months. Adults who want to explore foster care and adoption have to attend the IMPACT adoption preparation program and work with a case worker.
Some adults start out as foster parents before deciding to adopt. Neal-Baccus says 85 percent of Georgia’s foster children are adopted by foster parents, adults who offer temporary shelter to children while the state is terminating their birth parents’ rights to them in the courts, and while the state and private adoption agencies are recruiting permanent families for them.
The state’s “special needs” children, some of whom are pictured on this page, are advertised at www.myturnnow.com and are featured weekly on Fox 5’s “Wednesday’s Child.”
The state works with a network of private agencies to place the children.
To adopt, single adults must be at least 25 years old. Married couples must be at least 10 years older than the child they want to adopt.
At age 18, the state stops recruiting parents for children in foster care, but Neal- Baccus says the children are always hopeful of finding permanent families even though their chance of finding permanent families diminishes the older they get.
“Kids never give up on finding families,” she said. “They all want to belong somewhere.”