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Commentary: Hundreds of foster kids need place to call home

POSTED: February 13, 2011 12:30 a.m.
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Randy Evans

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Did you know there are hundreds of orphans in Georgia?

Right now - today - more than 1,500 kids in Georgia's foster care system are available for adoption. I don't know how that number strikes you, but that's a lot of young people moving through life without the comfort, care and guidance of parents - without a place to call home or someone to call "mom" or "dad." It's a big number, but it's hardly insurmountable.

In the state of Colorado, there were 800 foster children available for adoption in November 2008. In a little over a year, that number had fallen by more than half to 365 children in early 2010.

Why the dramatic drop? An adoption initiative called "Wait No More" was launched in Colorado Springs by an organization called Focus on the Family, in partnership with the state's Department of Human Services. The event called on churches and families to come to the aid of these children. And people responded by adopting hundreds of children out of the foster system.

Now it's our turn. "Wait No More" is coming to Georgia on Saturday, February 26. The gathering is taking place in Norcross and is aimed directly at finding loving, permanent homes for children in Georgia's foster care system.

This is an exciting time for our state because I believe there are many families in Georgia who would be willing to adopt if given the right encouragement and support.

Consider this: there are more than 14,000 churches in the state of Georgia. If just one out of every nine churches in our state had a family adopt a child, each of these waiting children would have a family. The Biblical command for Christians to care for orphans is clear. Now is the time for churches and families to consider what their role is in helping these children.

Every child deserves a safe, stable, loving home. It's something that every orphan in Georgia longs for and needs.

Living without a family can mean a life of hardship and suffering for so many children in foster care. The instability of their lives makes them more likely to struggle in school, to have behavioral problems, to abuse drugs and alcohol and have other problems.

Their prospects worsen when they age out of the system. Once on their own, they are more likely to experience homelessness, to be unprepared for employment, to abuse drugs and alcohol, to have physical and mental problems and to be incarcerated.

These kids need help now. They need a home now. Just ask Tiffany Beal.

When she was nine years old, Tiffany's life was shattered when her little sister died from inadequate parental supervision. Soon thereafter she was living in a stranger's house, separated from her siblings and grieving the loss of her little sister. However, when she was 11, her life changed completely when she was adopted from foster care. In effect, it rewrote her future. Today she is 22 and sharing her story at "Wait No More" events. She is encouraging parents to do for other orphans what was done for her.

Adoption isn't always easy. It requires a lot of patience and hard work. But it can be a deeply rewarding experience for a family and it forever changes an orphan's life.

My wife and I have experienced these rewards over and over. Each of our five adopted kids is a unique and irreplaceable part of our family. We cannot imagine life without any of them in our home.

Have you or someone you know ever considered adoption? If so, I encourage you to attend the "Wait No More" event on February 26. You'll hear more about the kids who are waiting for a family, the process of adoption from foster care and how to support adoptive families. There will also be representatives from agencies there to answer any questions.

Randy Hicks is the president of Georgia Family Council, a nonprofit research and education organization committed to fostering conditions in which individuals, families and communities thrive.



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