When most people think of adoption, a cuddly baby usually comes to mind. But there are plenty of older children and teens in the foster care system who are looking for a permanent home. A series of public service advertisements are uncovering the joys and rewards of adopting these older children.
The Ad Council, along with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and AdoptUSKids, is encouraging prospective parents to consider adopting teens from foster care by using real stories to reveal the bonds that cement a family together.
According to the organizations, teens make up approximately one-fifth of the youth in the US foster care system waiting to be adopted, and since 2013 the number of teens in foster care has increased each year. Teens in foster care face a particularly challenging time getting adopted, with 15- to-17-year-olds, waiting on average twice as long for an adoptive home as those 14 years of age and younger. The teenage years are an especially critical period for parental help and guidance.
“Since our campaign launched 15 years ago, we’ve helped connect more than 32,000 children with their adoptive families through AdoptUSKids.org,” said Michelle Hillman, chief campaign development officer of the Ad Council. “We’re thrilled to continue this uplifting work and show prospective parents the love that can come from adopting a teen from foster care.”
Inspired by true stories and anecdotes from real families, the PSAs are filled with heartfelt memories that actual adoptive families have experienced after adopting a teen. Each PSA ends with “Learn about adopting a teen from foster care. You can’t imagine the reward,” to remind prospective parents that teens in foster care can also help them grow in new ways.
One spot shows a teen coming to his new home. His face shows that he feels uncomfortable and may not fit in. Over the course of the 60-second spot, we see his adoptive family welcome him, adding him to family photos and including him in dinner conversations.
There are also poignant docu-style videos featuring three real families talking about the rewards and experiences of adopting their teen. One compilation video shows the adopted teens reading messages from their adoptive parents on how they have helped change their lives for the better.
“Meeting with young people regularly who have left the foster care system, some with permanent families and some without, we are reminded routinely and emphatically how important a sense of belonging and connection through being a part of a family is to these young people and others like them,” stated Jerry Milner, the associate commissioner of the Children’s Bureau. “When we allow children and youth for whom we have responsibility to leave our foster care system without one of the most important ingredients for their long-term success and well-being – a permanent family – we are doing them an injustice and perpetuating trauma in their lives. Ensuring that they have permanency and stability in their lives must be a primal responsibility for all of us in child welfare.”
Added Leo Leone, executive creative director at Barbarian, which did the creative work: “We spent hours talking with adoptive families during the creative process. In those conversations, we found their stories to be genuinely compelling — often ending conversations with both smiles on our faces and tears in our eyes. That was the center of our creative idea — real, emotional, life-changing moments built on these special family relationships.”
The work directs audiences to visit AdoptUSKids.org or to call 1-888-200-4005 to receive information about the foster care system and the adoption process.
See the work by clicking on the Creative Works box below.