By Jeanne Hollingshead

There are more than 5,000 children in foster care right now. Does that sound like a lot to you? It is when you consider how many families are needed for these children. For every one child in foster care, we need five families to be available for that child. That’s 25,000 families that are needed.

This number isn’t based on science or research but it is grounded in years of experience matching children with families. There are many factors that are discussed when selecting a family for a child such as:

  • Is this a one-parent or two-parent home?
  • Are there other children in the home?
  • Are there pets that could pose a problem for the child due to allergies or fears?
  • Does the family live near the child’s family so that visits and contacts can be scheduled consistently?
  • Will the family help maintain contact with people the child knows?
  • Does the family have the energy and resilience to work with the child?

When matching a child with a family, we rule out more families than we rule in because, many times, the child is not a good fit for the family or vice versa.

Despite the popular depiction of foster families as those who take dozens of children into their homes, the reality is that most families foster or adopt one or two children. This creates a demand for more homes. Many of our foster families will adopt the child in their home, which is a success that we celebrate. It also creates a demand for more homes, as many adoptive families chose to stop fostering after an adoption.

Lutheran Family Services of Virginia recruits families every day of the year because we recognize the need to have an abundant number of families available for the children in need. Since the beginning of 2017, we have received 573 referrals for waiting children and we have placed 18 of those children. That’s 3 percent the referrals. With the support of our community, we can do better.

If you haven’t considered fostering or adopting in the past, perhaps it is something to reflect on now.

Lutheran Family Services of Virginia has provided treatment foster care and adoption services for more than 20 years. We continually look for families who want to adopt or foster, but it is getting harder because the numbers of children needing a home are growing.

This is National Adoption Month, and this year’s theme is “Teens Need Families, No Matter What.” It’s worth considering that there may be a youth out there who could make a difference in your life.