Adoption through foster care on the rise in the U.S.

Lorie Hargis gave birth only twice, but at age 46, she’s now been a mother many times over. Since taking in her first foster care child in 2013, she and her husband, Dwain, have adopted five children through the state of Kentucky’s foster care program and taken in at least 10 children for shorter-term foster stays.

“There’s always room in my house for one more, I like to say,” said Hargis from her Cecilia, Ky., farmhouse, her biological grandson and one of her foster children chattering in the background. “It’ll be full when God says it’s full. Other than that, bring ’em on.”

Hargis said it doesn’t feel like she’s doing anything particularly wonderful by taking in children who need homes. “It feels very natural,” but to those kids who are adopted by the Hargises or by anyone else for that matter, she acknowledged, “it means everything.”

As of 2015, about 450,000 children were living in foster care in the United States, and more than 110,000 others were waiting to be placed in foster care, according to a report from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). About 20,000 will age out by 21 (plus others in states where the age is 18) and leave the foster care system without being adopted, putting them at about a 50 percent greater risk of homelessness and a 25 percent greater risk of addiction when compared with children who grew up in stable homes. Men are also at a 40 percent greater risk of incarceration when they’ve aged out of the foster care system, according to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

But a new national survey is offering hope for American kids waiting to be adopted: More people than ever are becoming parents in nonbiological ways, according to the new report conducted by the Thomas Foundation. The results showed that among Americans looking to adopt, nearly 80 percent of the group would consider accepting a child for foster care as a first step toward adoption. That percentage has steadily increased over the last five years.

Additionally, the survey found that many families looking to adopt often already have children at home. This “dispels the myth that infertility is the primary driver for considering foster care adoption,” said Rita Soronen, director and CEO of the Thomas Foundation.

Both domestic and international adoptions have decreased in the U.S. Teen pregnancy rates are down in the U.S., meaning that fewer newborns are being put up for adoption, and in 2017,…

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