To connect youth waiting in foster care with the adults who become stable forces in their lives, and to support those relationships so that they last for a lifetime.
Raise the Future, formerly known as The Adoption Exchange, was founded in Colorado in 1983 by concerned social workers and child advocates to provide safety and permanence in the lives of foster children. In its 36-year history, Raise the Future has become a leader in best-practice for children in foster care, with seven member states, three state offices, and programs that impact national trends in child welfare. Today, more than 9,000 children have the love and stability of permanent families thanks to the work of Raise the Future.
The value of adoption from foster care is enormous both in terms of a child's general well-being, and in the benefit to society. In the United States, children in the foster care system waiting to be adopted spend an average of nearly three years in care (AFCARS 2012). These children have some of the greatest challenges, and have been classified by the child welfare system as "hardest to place." Often, these children are survivors of abuse and neglect, have disabilities or special needs, or have complex behavioral and emotional needs resulting from past trauma. Demographically, the children tend to be older (primarily age 12 or above), belong to a minority group, and/or be part of a sibling group.
These very children are in danger of being released from the foster care system when they turn 18. They leave without a caring, committed, adult support system to help them prepare for life as productive, independent adults. When they reach the age of 18, they face imminent emancipation from the system without the support and love of a family. Children who age out of care face a difficult and often dangerous life. Many of them encounter homelessness, poverty, substance abuse, interrupted education, unintended pregnancies, and crime. Without help, they will be left alone, struggling to survive physically, emotionally, academically, and financially.
Compared to children who are fostered long-term, those who are adopted achieve more academically, are healthier physically and psychologically, have fewer social and behavioral issues, and are more likely to become productive members of society.
A family recently served by Raise the Future commented: "The Raise the Future staff understands the unique situation we have as two gay dads, so we feel safe. Our family is safe because it is just as important, meaningful, and protected as any other family that goes to Raise the Future."
The Princes started looking and found a sibling group of six on The Raise the Future Children's Gallery in need of an adoptive home. Now, Lanasia, Chris, Kyle, Dana, Marcella, and Armani have the family they've always wanted and the impact doesn't stop there: "We adopted these kids and broke the cycle for them, and it's not just about them; this has changed our lives, their lives, and ultimately their children's lives. The ripple effect is huge."
An adoptive mother recently expressed her thanks for being able to talk with one of Raise the Future's Adoption Navigators following a meeting with her child's therapist: "I don't know what I would do without you! You had an understanding of my concerns and were knowledgeable about ways to help."
After spending five years in foster care, Isaiah has found his adoptive family! Isaiah said, "They are my family and I am their son and no matter what happens, they will stick things out with me. I finally have people who love me for me, and I finally know what it means to feel safe, happy, and hopeful!"
Brooke, a mother of five who was recently served by Raise the Future commented: "We had four biological sons; life seemed complete. A small voice kept stirring in our hearts though; one that said: 'You've parented for a long time and you care - maybe you ought to keep going.' So our family grew by one, with the adoption of our beautiful 12-year-old daughter, Hannah."