Wednesday, October 6, 2010

If Michael Oher can be adopted, why can’t I?

Last week, I visited with my newest youth added to the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Program for Southern New Jersey. This was my second visit with Frank, a talkative, friendly 20 year old, who despite his age, still wants to find his forever family. Like most youth Frank’s age, he loves sports (especially the Phillies and the Eagles), cars, and girls. Also, like most youth in foster care, Frank is very close to aging out of the foster care system without finding his forever family.

Despite his biological parents’ rights being terminated over 9 years ago, Frank is still waiting for a family. Frank has a sibling who was adopted, but adoption efforts were never pursued for him. When I first met Frank, he immediately was open to receiving child-specific recruitment. Frank knew the type of family he wanted and even where he’d like to live.

On my second visit with Frank, he greeted me with a warm smile and a high-five. He eagerly told me that he found more states in which he would like for me to search for a family for him. On my previous visit, he had told me that I could look only in NJ, PA, DE and NY. This time, as we searched through a college football book that divides the teams by their divisions and states, Frank now let me know that he was open to me finding a family in 27 states. He shared with me that after he thought about it, it wasn’t so much the location of the family, but finding the right family for him, wherever they may be.

As I explained to Frank that I would do my very best to locate families for him, I also had the task of explaining to him that finding a family may not happen, mostly due to his age. Frank then looked up at me and asked, “Do you know who Michael Oher is?” I told him that I did, saying that he’s a professional football player (not wanting to focus on the movie about his life, or the fact that he had been adopted as a teen). Frank then looked up at me again and asked, “If Michael Oher can be adopted, why can’t I?” That question immediately made my heart feel heavy and my eyes water. Frank was right. Why couldn’t he still be adopted? Frank is a great young man, who deserves a loving family just like everyone else. His question immediately lit a fire under me…and made me want to put 200% effort into finding him the family that he deserves. Frank would love a family who is “nice” and likes sports. This future auto mechanic is open to being with a single-parent or a couple. Race is unimportant.

When I reviewed Frank’s files, it clearly states that he has expressed an interest in being adopted, but unfortunately, Frank is one of many youth who fell through the cracks of the foster care system. In 2009, 29,471 children aged out of foster care (according to AFCARS). It is my hope, that Frank will find his forever family, because we here at NAC believe, “there are no unwanted children, just unfound families" ™

For more information on Frank, or other Wendy’s Wonderful Kids participants from Southern New Jersey, please contact Crystal Allen, or 215-735-9988, Ext. 346.

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