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Navigating Adoption presented by AdoptUSKids

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A series of six episodes that bring experts and families together to discuss topics related to foster care and adoption.

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Drema Neely
Drema Neely

Outstanding Caseworker treats each family as if they are her “only concern”

Drema Neely has worked with families for 16 years, most of that time as a case manager. She
first joined the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services four months after adopting a baby
through kinship care because she wanted to help other parents like her.

The Moffitt family in their Christmas jammies.
The Moffitt family in their Christmas jammies.

You don’t have to be special…you just need to be willing

Kayla Moffitt will always remember the moment that she shared her desire to adopt a child from foster care with her husband, Jerad, in the fall of 2018.

Ann Marie and James Root.
Ann Marie and James Root.

Growing together: how a family of five adopted a teen they knew

Ann Marie Root and her husband, James, became foster and adoptive parents to a teen who was friends with their daughter.

Ahgren family of five leans against bridge for family photo.
Ahgren family of five leans against bridge for family photo.

Sibling bonds: Three families share their stories of adopting siblings  

Hear from three families as they share their stories of growing their families through sibling group adoptions.

Parkers

Meet the Parkers, adoptive parents and creators of fantasy children’s books

Adoption Excellence Awardees Brian and Josie have written, illustrated, and published more than 20 children’s books, many of which include themes of adoption with the goal of better representation of lead characters of color.

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Why the holidays can be hard and how to make them better

Many youth in foster care experience the holidays as stressful. Foster care alum Jamerika Haynes-Lewis shares her perspective and offers six tips for making youth feel included.

Picture2

Parenting as a team: foster and adoptive parents share what they have learned

How might adopting or foster parenting affect your relationship?

Rebecca Lahue leans in for a photo with her husband and daughter.
Rebecca Lahue leans in for a photo with her husband and daughter.

How parents can build trust: what 3 foster and adoptive families have found

How can you demonstrate your trustworthiness to a teen who has experienced foster care? Here’s advice from three sets of foster and adoptive parents.

Rob Scheer, his husband Reese, and their four kids pose for a family photo.
Rob Scheer, his husband Reese, and their four kids pose for a family photo.

A father with lived experience in foster care adopts five youth from the same system

Author, US Navy veteran, and former banking executive Rob Sheer says “dad” is by far his best title.

Nikki, Ty’Airah, and Mike smiling and sitting together
Nikki, Ty’Airah, and Mike smiling and sitting together

A “nerve-racking” choice on their minds for two decades, then taking the leap to adopt

Discover Nikki and Mike’s greatest joys and the biggest misconception about adoption from foster care.

The Jones family smiles outside, with trees in the background
The Jones family smiles outside, with trees in the background

Adoptive families highlight the need for adopting teens in new public service advertisements

Real parents and youth share about their adoption journeys—In. Their. Own. Words.

Phoenix, her siblings, and her mom all together smiling in a restaurant
Phoenix, her siblings, and her mom all together smiling in a restaurant

I know first-hand the importance of sibling relationships in foster care

I’m sharing my experience so that current foster families understand how important it is to keep siblings connected to each other.

Family of seven smiling together shoulder to shoulder
Family of seven smiling together shoulder to shoulder

Foster and adoptive mom of 15 years: “Teens are great!”

Melissa is the adoptive mother of three children and continues to foster many more. Here’s her advice.

Parent reaching a gentle arm around a teenager as they sit on a couch and smile
Parent reaching a gentle arm around a teenager as they sit on a couch and smile

Not your style? Think again. Trauma-responsive parenting really works.

Trauma-responsive parenting should be used for children with any type of trauma history. Here’s why.

The Green family all together and holding a banner that says, "We are the village."
The Green family all together and holding a banner that says, "We are the village."

Parents adopt 6 siblings from foster care: “The love is forever”

Discover how adopting from foster care has brought more love and fulfillment to this family than they could have imagined.

Woman with dark hair sitting on the floor and leaning on a bed
Woman with dark hair sitting on the floor and leaning on a bed

Good grief: Finding strength in facing grief and loss as an adoptive parent

There is a lot to gain when we understand our grief and look at it head-on.

Grandparents playing with a child at a celebration with balloons
Grandparents playing with a child at a celebration with balloons

Maintaining contact between birth and adoptive families

Maintaining contact with birth families is important to a child’s sense of belonging and well-being. And there are a lot of approaches that can work, depending on your family’s circumstances.

Family of four wearing sunglasses and waving out of a car window on a sunny day
Family of four wearing sunglasses and waving out of a car window on a sunny day

Summer ideas for kids in foster care or adoptive homes

Surf’s up! Here’s how to make this summer a great one.

Tyler Hunter Boards smiling while wearing a cap and gown and standing in front of a wall that says "WKU"
Tyler Hunter Boards smiling while wearing a cap and gown and standing in front of a wall that says "WKU"

What does permanency mean to me?

Tyler Hunter Boards shares how being in the child welfare system impacted his life.

4 smiling teenagers shown jumping in mid air on a sunny day in the park
4 smiling teenagers shown jumping in mid air on a sunny day in the park

Celebrate National Foster Care Month by lifting up youth mental health: 6 ideas to get you started

Every day, children across the country—including those in foster care—can suffer deeply from mental illnesses. Here’s how to help.

Illustration of a mom, dad, and daughter holding hands
Illustration of a mom, dad, and daughter holding hands

Adoptive parents: Find the post-adoption support your family needs now

Learn about post-adoption support for adoptive parents.

An adult and child laugh as they bake cookies in the kitchen
An adult and child laugh as they bake cookies in the kitchen

Foster parents: Celebrate everything—and other secrets to success

As a foster parent, here’s what you can do to help the children and youth in your care.

A couple walking and smiling, looking at their child
A couple walking and smiling, looking at their child

Transracial parenting resources

Are you caring for children or youth of another race or culture? These resources will help you support your child’s well-being.

Robin smiling at the camera
Robin smiling at the camera

This foster parent brings lessons from her own experience in foster care

How can foster parents form close bonds with children in their care? It comes down to this important thing.

An adult and child sit on a bench, with the child looking out at a lake and the adult smiling at the child
An adult and child sit on a bench, with the child looking out at a lake and the adult smiling at the child

Understanding adverse childhood experiences and what you can do to help

ACEs can have far-reaching consequences for children. Here are the ways that adults can step in.

Brianna Windle
Brianna Windle

Outstanding Caseworker is a “breath of fresh air” in foster parent’s journey

A Rhode Island social worker helps foster families and birth families connect. Here are her insights about adoption and foster care.

Portrait of grandmother and granddaughter embracing at the beach
Portrait of grandmother and granddaughter embracing at the beach

What is kinship care?

Also, discover the benefits for children and youth who live with kin.

Lissa and family
Lissa and family

Adoption story: Adopted son inspires his parents

Lissa and Corey took the deep dive into becoming foster parents a decade ago. Discover the lessons they’ve learned along the way.

Diverse group of teens standing outside and smiling at the camera
Diverse group of teens standing outside and smiling at the camera

Celebrate National Adoption Month by learning about teens in foster care!

This year’s theme is “Small Steps Open Doors.”

Jamerika and the Johnsons smiling outside of a building
Jamerika and the Johnsons smiling outside of a building

What I want foster and adoptive parents to know

I went into foster care at the age of five years old. When I meet foster and adoptive parents, here are the pieces of advice I share.

Teenage boy and adult woman sitting with their backs to a tree and looking up at the sky
Teenage boy and adult woman sitting with their backs to a tree and looking up at the sky

New ad campaign highlights the rewards of adopting teens

Each year, almost 20,000 young people age out of care before being adopted. That’s why AdoptUSKids is shining a spotlight on teen adoption.

Victor Sims
Victor Sims

“I was adopted into the perfect family for me”

Victor was adopted when he was 12. Now an adult, he shares what made his adoptive family so right for him.

Andrew and Alex Sporner sitting in a park and smiling
Andrew and Alex Sporner sitting in a park and smiling

Adoption success story: Father and son bond over church, choir, and a love for computers

A single father shares what he has learned after adopting his son from foster care.

A daughter wears a backpack and holds her father's hand as they walk
A daughter wears a backpack and holds her father's hand as they walk

Back-to-school resources

As the school year begins, learn how to advocate for your child or youth and help them succeed.

Jamerika on stage being crowned USA Ambassador Ms. 2021
Jamerika on stage being crowned USA Ambassador Ms. 2021

Helping foster youth discover their dreams

Jamerika Haynes-Lewis is the former USA Ambassador Ms. 2021. Having been in foster care as a child, she uses her platform to empower youth and advocate for families.

Rolounda Hayes
Rolounda Hayes

Caseworkers share what makes a great foster parent

What makes a great foster parent? That’s a question we’ve asked dozens of caseworkers over the years. Here’s what they’ve said.

The Pendergrass family poses for a photo outside
The Pendergrass family poses for a photo outside

“I fell in love with both boys. There is an earnest sincereness to them.”

Michael and Shay were moved to adopt a pair of siblings. Now, the boys really complete their family!

Noel Weber
Noel Weber

“Every child deserves to have at least one adult who is always on their side”

Nominated as an outstanding caseworker, Noel Weber works with children with high needs and foster families.

Two adults smiling next to a child at a table with a computer in front of them
Two adults smiling next to a child at a table with a computer in front of them

How foster parents can support reunification

Assess your ideas about birth families, be supportive during visits, and more.

Illustration of a group of children jumping and playing
Illustration of a group of children jumping and playing

Creating an affirming home for LGBTQ+ youth as a foster or adoptive parent

According to some studies, almost 1 in 3 youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ+. Here are steps you can take to affirm your child.

Paper doll cutout
Paper doll cutout

June is National Reunification Month!

Reunification is the primary goal of foster care. Learn more about it with these resources.

Kandice Harmon
Kandice Harmon

“I want people who are thinking about adopting to look beyond babies and toddlers”

Kandice Harmon spent most of the first eight years of her life in foster care. And she has a message for prospective families.

Jackie Smigel
Jackie Smigel

Outstanding Caseworker: Jackie Smigel

“I make it through every day and wake up and do it again because when we are able to get brothers and sisters back together to finish growing up, that success keeps me going for a long time.”

A couple sits on a couch and smiles as they look at an ipad
A couple sits on a couch and smiles as they look at an ipad

While you wait: preparing to be matched

While you prepare for your first placement, you may feel anxious, impatient, and hopeful—all in a single day. These six actions can help you as you wait.

Jeanmarie Moore family
Jeanmarie Moore family

“Plans change. God laughs.”

Jeanmarie Moore and her husband, Greg, never planned to adopt. Today, they are the parents of 11 children—seven by birth and four through adoption.

Tawanna Brown
Tawanna Brown

Finding my voice, changing my story

“I believe in you. When my seventh-grade teacher said those words to me, it clicked. And so, I’m saying them to you. There are people in the world who see potential and greatness in you.”

Antonio Fannin
Antonio Fannin

Outstanding Caseworker: Antonio Fannin

Hear from outstanding caseworker Antonio Fannin. “It’s my goal to help the children settle in and ensure that they—and the parents—get the support they need.”

Mother hugging her child
Mother hugging her child

Helping a child through a crisis

When armed with knowledge and understanding about trauma, families can understand the root causes of their children’s crises, respond to them, and help their children build skills for managing stress.

VanSlyke family
VanSlyke family

“It’s just like having biological kids. We’re in it for the long haul.”

Meet a single dad who adopted two teenage siblings he found on AdoptUSKids. “I really feel like this is just what I envisioned our family to be.”

Solomon family
Solomon family

“Our dozen is always buzzin!”

“Has being a family of 12 been easy? No! Our journey has been full of ups and downs, like a roller coaster ride. But roller coasters are full of adventure too!”

Maddie Dulle
Maddie Dulle

“My job can be taking off people’s rose-colored glasses”

In this outstanding caseworker interview, Maddie Dulle helps families gain a new perspective and learn what it takes to be successful.

Heidi Kaplan and her two teenaged kids, Ana and Elian
Heidi Kaplan and her two teenaged kids, Ana and Elian

Why I changed my mind about adopting teens

As single woman with a successful career, Heidi Kaplan first imagined herself adopting a girl who was elementary-aged. Her sweet spot turned out to be very different.

Julia Robison
Julia Robison

Outstanding Caseworker: Julia Robison

“I help families learn as much as they can about the child’s background, the reasons behind their actions, and therapeutic ways to respond to them.”

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Changing our approach when our children can’t change

As the parent of a child with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, Barb Clark shares thoughtful insights and vital information to help others become better parents and happier families.

Vincee Merrifield and her family
Vincee Merrifield and her family

A dramatic adoption process leads to a dream fulfilled

Today, they’re the proud parents of a son who’s off to college. And they’re ready to do it all again.

Woman and child seated next to each other at a table talking and counting on their fingers.
Woman and child seated next to each other at a table talking and counting on their fingers.

Advocating for your child at school

An adoptive mother and educator shares strategies to help family members advocate for children.

Elizabeth Sutherland
Elizabeth Sutherland

“I found my family at Walmart”

A foster care alum writes about the friends, colleagues, and strangers who helped her succeed after aging out of care.

The Reterrer family
The Reterrer family

“We’re not perfect parents, but at least we’re licensed!”

A couple talks about adopting two teens from foster care and the many “firsts” they’ve experienced with them.

Mother and son riding their bikes in neighborhood.
Mother and son riding their bikes in neighborhood.

AdoptUSKids launches new ad campaign

Now in its seventeenth year, the national campaign highlights the rewards of adopting a teen from foster care.

Outstanding Caseworker: Whitney Coots
Outstanding Caseworker: Whitney Coots

Outstanding Caseworker: Whitney Coots

“I want to be a voice for Native kids and help families get the support they need to stay together.”

Three teens smiling and looking at each other
Three teens smiling and looking at each other

November is National Adoption Month!

This year’s theme is “Every Conversation Matters” and focuses on the thousands of teenagers and young adults in foster care who need unconditional commitment, love, and support from a family.

Rebecca Lahue and her daughter.
Rebecca Lahue and her daughter.

“Respect, don’t judge, be flexible…” A mother shares her golden rules of foster parenting

Rebecca Lahue aged out of foster care when she was 19 years old. Since that time, she’s fostered more than 60 children and adopted a teen from foster care.

Outstanding Caseworker Mary Corwin
Outstanding Caseworker Mary Corwin

Outstanding Caseworker: Mary Corwin

“I’ve seen kids who’ve been through unspeakable things become healthy adults living lives that blow me away!” A social worker and adoptive mother talks about working with families for two decades.

Young person with Down syndrome smiling
Young person with Down syndrome smiling

Adopting a child with Down syndrome from foster care

Do your homework, connect with the Down syndrome community, and know what your resources are and how to access them.

Monique Howell and daughters
Monique Howell and daughters

“Don’t be afraid to adopt teenagers”

A single mother of three living in South Carolina fulfills a dream by adopting two daughters from Alabama.

Man with arm around woman sitting on a bench.
Man with arm around woman sitting on a bench.

Waiting too long? Expand your view and gain experience

Advice for prospective parents who are searching for a child to adopt from foster care.

Stacie Miller
Stacie Miller

Outstanding Caseworker: Stacie Miller

“Like a good social worker, a good foster parent is passionate about helping kids. They don’t give up when things get hard. They can continue to love, no matter what happens.”

The Ahlgren family
The Ahlgren family

“Reinventing normal”: A Florida family adopts a teenager and a sibling pair

“I think we need to approach ‘normal’ differently…I’m glad to be able to play a part in readjusting how people view adopting older kids or adopting siblings…It can make a big impact.”

Teen wearing baseball hat with rainbow flag wrapped around his shoulders
Teen wearing baseball hat with rainbow flag wrapped around his shoulders

Supporting sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in children

Advocate at school and in the community, look for role models, say “yes” to the dress, and other advice from a child psychologist and parent of a gender-expansive child.

Outstanding Caseworker Rolounda Hayes
Outstanding Caseworker Rolounda Hayes

“Hair shouldn’t be an obstacle in foster parenting”

A Mississippi social worker talks about the qualities of a good foster parent, including honoring a child’s culture and working toward reunification.

The Mendez family
The Mendez family

Tough choices but finally, family

A mother writes about how a cross-country move in the middle of their adoption proceedings almost disrupted their plans.

A couple and their sons smiling, surrounded by trees.
A couple and their sons smiling, surrounded by trees.

Advice to parents adopting a child of another race

A professor and transracial adoptee shares her experience and suggestions for supporting a transracially adopted child.

Outstanding caseworker Kim Blackburn
Outstanding caseworker Kim Blackburn

Outstanding Caseworker: Kim Blackburn

“I love working with the teenage kids and seeing their potential and encouraging them… I’ve seen how a caring adult can help turn a child’s life around.”

Keller family
Keller family

Be perfect? No, just be loving and kind

A mother who was adopted as a baby reflects on raising six children she and her husband adopted from foster care.

Girl sitting at desk in bedroom waving at computer.
Girl sitting at desk in bedroom waving at computer.

Keeping children you foster and adopt safe online

Insights from a digital forensic detective and other experts about the dangers posed to children online and techniques to help you protect your children.

Outstanding caseworker Latanga McGill
Outstanding caseworker Latanga McGill

Outstanding Caseworker: Latanga McGill

A Mississippi licensing specialist talks about how she supports foster parents and what’s kept her doing this job for the last 10 years.

Ryan Brinkman and family
Ryan Brinkman and family

“Having each other made life easier for our children—and for us”

Ryan and Christopher knew they wanted to be parents, and that adoption was how it would happen. What they didn’t realize was that over the course of five months, they would become fathers to four siblings—and that was only the beginning!

Torjia Ashford, Outstanding Caseworker
Torjia Ashford, Outstanding Caseworker

Outstanding Caseworker: Torjia Ashford

“Torjia works for the very best outcome for the children and helps the parents along the way… Our two-year-old has even named her baby dolls after Torjia! As foster parents, we would be absolutely lost without her….”

Catherine Monet
Catherine Monet

“I want other kids to know the things I learned over time”

Catherine Monet was adopted by her foster parents when she was 21. We talked with Catherine about her experience and her advice for parents, social workers, and other youth in care.

Group of teens sitting on fence.
Group of teens sitting on fence.

May is National Foster Care Month!

This month—and every month—we celebrate the foster parents, volunteers, and others who are helping to create success and lasting connections for children in foster care.

Outstanding Caseworker Lindsey Cox
Outstanding Caseworker Lindsey Cox

Outstanding Caseworker: Lindsey Cox

Lindsey Cox understands the challenges and rewards of adopting from foster care, because she’s both a caseworker and a foster mom: “It’s one thing to be trained; it’s another thing to live your job.”

Cora and Maureen Atkinson
Cora and Maureen Atkinson

Finding Cora

In this guest post, a mother writes about finding her daughter on AdoptUSKids: “The process that I thought would be quick took more than four years, but if I had been matched sooner, I wouldn’t have been matched with Cora.”

Outstanding Caseworker Harold Hankerson
Outstanding Caseworker Harold Hankerson

Outstanding Caseworker: Harold Hankerson

“I’d say that working with children is a calling more than a career… The Bible tells us that we’re responsible for the orphans and the widows. Those are my marching orders.”

Young girl standing outside with backpack on
Young girl standing outside with backpack on

Understanding children’s behavior and helping them heal

A therapist discusses some of the neurological causes of children’s behavior, sensory “triggers,” and ways of calming an upset child.

AnnMarie Rainwater
AnnMarie Rainwater

Finding normal

A young woman reflects on her adoption after eight foster placements: “I realized that they really loved me, that they weren’t going to give up on me.”

Outstanding Caseworker Trudy Tweedle-Cagle
Outstanding Caseworker Trudy Tweedle-Cagle

Outstanding Caseworker: Trudy Tweedle-Cagle

“Organization is huge. And working weekends is inevitable.” A caseworker whose service area is the entire state of Minnesota talks about matching children and families.

Older girl and adult woman talking

Helping children in foster care understand their history

In this guest post, an adoptive parent and social worker offers suggestions for how to help children of all ages understand their past and the circumstances that brought them into care.

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“My kids’ bio parents are like our extended family”

A single father talks about why he ensures that the children he adopted stay connected to their birth families.

Outstanding caseworker Stephanie Collum
Outstanding caseworker Stephanie Collum

Outstanding Caseworker: Stephanie Collum

Being authentic, positive, and “comfortable in every situation” are three keys to this Mississippi caseworker’s success when working with children and parents.

Heart shape created by a man and woman's hands.
Heart shape created by a man and woman's hands.

Maintaining a strong relationship when fostering

In this guest post, a mother who has been fostering for more than three decades describes the ways that she and her husband have worked hard to remain good friends and partners who “love each other, like each other, and respect each other.”

Alex Oleson and mother
Alex Oleson and mother

From foster youth to foster care advocate

“Having a permanent home laid the foundation for my success. It also inspired me to pay it forward, because it’s up to each of us to share the opportunities we’ve had with the next generation.”

Outstanding caseworker Ma Shonn Sullivan
Outstanding caseworker Ma Shonn Sullivan

Outstanding Caseworker: Ma Shonn Sullivan

An adoption worker talks about finding a forever family for a little girl with medical needs who was photolisted on adoptuskids.org.

The Wolff family
The Wolff family

“I’m so thankful God didn’t let us give up”

A couple who almost abandoned their adoption plans and three siblings who spent their lives in care become a family.

Teen son and mother standing in kitchen.
Teen son and mother standing in kitchen.

New PSAs raise awareness of adopting teens

Inspired by real families, our new campaign highlights the heartwarming moments that adoptive parents share with teens.

Outstanding Caseworker Amber Scott
Outstanding Caseworker Amber Scott

Outstanding Caseworker: Amber Scott

Amber Scott ensures that Indian Child Welfare Act standards are applied to Choctaw children in 12 states. She talked with us about her work.

Twigs in a vase with red and white paper hearts on them.
Twigs in a vase with red and white paper hearts on them.

Happier holidays!

For children who are in foster care or were adopted, Christmas and other holidays can be a reminder of the family that they’ve lost. Here are some suggestions for navigating the season.

Summer, Tim, and Raymond Young.
Summer, Tim, and Raymond Young.

“Where some people see obstacles, I see challenges”

When Tim Young set out to adopt two teens with special needs, he was presented with a lot of potential pitfalls. Luckily for Summer and Raymond, Tim was determined.

Group of teens taking a selfie.
Group of teens taking a selfie.

November is National Adoption Month!

Join us in celebrating the families that have been created through adoption and raising awareness of the 122,000 children in foster care.

Outstanding Caseworker Janelle Ott
Outstanding Caseworker Janelle Ott

Outstanding Caseworker: Janelle Ott

A Pennsylvania case manager talks about how she helps children open up and work through past traumas.

Zoe Bourgeois and her mother, Maryann.
Zoe Bourgeois and her mother, Maryann.

What I learned from my mother about adopting a teen

“Use humor!” and other parenting tips from a young woman who was adopted when she was 15.

The Burden family.
The Burden family.

“My daughters are amazing people. I can’t imagine my life without them.”

A foster care supervisor talks about adopting as a single mother and helping her daughters overcome past traumas.

Outstanding caseworker Lynette Rao
Outstanding caseworker Lynette Rao

Outstanding Caseworker: Lynette Rao

According to this Florida adoption specialist, successful adoptive parents are fierce advocates who understand trauma and never give up hope.

Mother and daughter talking on couch.
Mother and daughter talking on couch.

Empowering your child to tell their adoption story

How to help children share their adoption story in safe and beneficial ways.

The Bowen family
The Bowen family

Adopting a child gave this family a new purpose in life

Lissa and Tim Bowen became experts in trauma-informed care and made new plans for their future after adopting a son from foster care.

Outstanding Caseworker Leslie Hatton
Outstanding Caseworker Leslie Hatton

Outstanding Caseworker: Leslie Haton

An adoption specialist and adoptive mother talks about how to help children heal.

Father comforting upset son
Father comforting upset son

Is it lying or confabulation—and how should I respond?

Sometimes what looks like lying is a type of distorted thinking called confabulation that’s beyond children’s control and is particularly common in children who’ve experienced trauma.

Rainwater family
Rainwater family

“We needed to do more”

A couple looks beyond a teen’s rebellion to see her strengths and desire to be adopted.

Outstanding Caseworker Shamira Bennet
Outstanding Caseworker Shamira Bennet

Outstanding Caseworker: Shamira Bennett

“It’s amazing to me that you can go from being a stranger walking through the door to someone a child looks up to in a month’s time.”

Brother and sister standing outside.
Brother and sister standing outside.

Questions to ask when accepting a foster placement

Advice from experienced foster parents and social workers who train and support them.

The Drucker family at home.
The Drucker family at home.

“Adopting a teen rocks your world—in wonderful and unexpected ways”

A Minnesota social worker talks about the process of adopting her daughter.

The Cox family
The Cox family

Unexpected gains

“Sometimes when your heart is telling you to get to know a child, the message might be to not overthink it, and to take it a step at a time.”

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Understanding childhood grief and loss

Understanding the causes and effects of grief and loss and how you can help your child heal.

Michael Graves
Michael Graves

Outstanding Caseworker: Michael Graves

In less than a year, this Oklahoma permanency worker has inspired a family and a CASA volunteer to sing his praises for the support he provides to foster parents and birth families.

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How is COVID-19 affecting children in foster care?

As with many crises, this one is hitting vulnerable people the worst. And it’s possible that more children will be in need of safe, loving homes as we move toward a “new normal.”

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May is National Foster Care Month!

Foster parents change lives—both children’s and their own.

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Outstanding Caseworker: Courtney Croley

“Many times I’ve thought: Why do I come back every single day? Ultimately, I keep coming back because I know that I am making a difference.”

The Olds family
The Olds family

Spreadsheets, brainwashing, and other strategies for successful parenting

Sofia and DaShoan Olds adopted seven siblings from foster care two years ago. Today, Sofia reports, they are doing great! Sofia shared some of her parenting tips with us.

A teenage boy and two parents.
A teenage boy and two parents.

While you wait: developing characteristics of a successful parent

Five traits and supports you’ll want as an adoptive parent and tips for acquiring them while you’re waiting for a placement.

The Cotton family on adoption day.
The Cotton family on adoption day.

Stepping through our fears—for Steven

When Helen Cotton and her husband decided to adopt a teen, she never imagined that it would be the “sweet, smart, caring little troublemaker” who had been a student in her third grade class.

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Foster care and adoption in the age of COVID-19

We’re talking with child welfare workers, collecting information from families, and working with trusted national and local organizations to bring you resources as we have them.

Outstanding caseworker Jonathan Nichols
Outstanding caseworker Jonathan Nichols

Outstanding Caseworker: Jonathan Nichols

This Ohio caseworker sometimes thinks of himself as a tour guide, because he asks children and teens where they want to go and what they want their future to look like.

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7 tips for getting to know a teen you are fostering or adopting

Getting to know a teenager is a journey. Being thoughtful and considerate of their life experiences and needs when communicating with them is a great first step.

Pinkerton family standing outside in snow
Pinkerton family standing outside in snow

“Adoption will open your heart to new adventures”

Shannon Pinkerton adopted children with Down syndrome and other special needs. She says: “I never saw people with disabilities as being different.”

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Supporting the children in your home when adopting

Expert tips for maintaining stability in the midst of transition and helping all members of your family bond and find a new normal.

Outstanding caseworker Lori Nichols
Outstanding caseworker Lori Nichols

Outstanding Caseworker: Lori Nichols

Flexibility, patience, and “being comfortable with being uncomfortable” are a few qualities of a successful foster parent, according to this veteran foster care recruiter.

Hill-Jordan family on adoption day with sign: "I spent 1,156 days in foster care, but today...

A TV appearance leads to an adoption

A Georgia family adopts their son days before his 18th birthday.

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How to help an older child or teen adjust to your home

In this guest post, two child welfare experts offer nine tips for smoothing a child’s transition into your family.

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Outstanding Caseworker: Jillian Barath

An Ohio caseworker talks about her 14-year career and how her team connected a little girl from Ohio with a family in Kentucky.

Wendy and Joey Garren pose with their four adopted children.
Wendy and Joey Garren pose with their four adopted children.

“We didn’t know what we were looking for until we found it”

A mother talks about overcoming her fears and doubts to adopt four siblings from foster care.

Foster parents holding a child's hands, walking down a path.
Foster parents holding a child's hands, walking down a path.

6 tips for foster parents preparing for reunification

The majority of children in foster care are reunified with their birth family, and foster parents must support that outcome. In this post, we offer suggestions for smoothing the transition.

Laura Wilson
Laura Wilson

Outstanding Caseworker: Laura Wilson

Don’t take things personally, know that children will heal, and other thoughts from a West Virginia caseworker.

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Couldn’t we all use more feel-good?

Parents who foster and adopt share what they are most thankful for this holiday season and throughout the year.

Angie and Chris Hatla pose with thier adult children and adopted son, Carlo.
Angie and Chris Hatla pose with thier adult children and adopted son, Carlo.

Saying “yes” to Carlo

When the Hatla family adopted a son of a different race, they expanded their world in unexpected ways.

The Graham family
The Graham family

Following her spirit

A Louisiana mom who works with kids in need adopts a daughter.

Family sitting on a couch, talking about the rewards of adopting teens and becoming a family.
Family sitting on a couch, talking about the rewards of adopting teens and becoming a family.

New video: the rewards of adopting teens

Parents and teens describe how adoption has changed their lives

Two parents and a teen from public service announcement
Two parents and a teen from public service announcement

New public service ads spotlight teen adoption

In our new national campaign, “You can’t imagine the reward,” parents and children share the meaningful moments that make a family.

Deb and Bell Lowe
Deb and Bell Lowe

“I never thought adoption would be possible”

Deb Lowe’s friends encouraged her to adopt from foster care. Now she’s working to inspire others.

Outstanding Caseworker Karla Adams
Outstanding Caseworker Karla Adams

Outstanding Caseworker: Karla Adams

“As a caseworker, there are good days, and there are bad days. But there are seldom boring days!”

Ries family
Ries family

“The biggest leap of faith I’ve ever taken”

A mother shares her story of adopting four siblings in this guest blog post.

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Five questions to ask when interviewing agencies

Advice to help you make an informed decision when choosing a foster care and adoption agency.

Michelle Rosencrantz
Michelle Rosencrantz

Lessons I’ve learned in 20 years of casework

A Nevada adoption worker says: “there is a lot of growing to be done in this job.”

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Parents weigh in: what I learned in training

Responses to the question: What is the most surprising thing you learned about being a foster parent during training?

Ross family
Ross family

“More family than we expected”

When Terri and Paul Ross adopted two daughters, they also welcomed the girls’ grandmother into the family.

African American family
African American family

Creating an adoption family profile: tips from workers

We asked workers who use our photolisting what advice they would give families who are registering on an adoption site like ours. This is what they told us.

Anna Wood
Anna Wood

Outstanding Caseworker: Anna Wood

Anna Wood says that a big part of her job is doing what she can to make foster parents’ lives easier, because “they have a really hard job, and they do it 24/7.”

Kean family
Kean family

Reaching out to a student—and gaining a daughter

Gigi Kean didn’t think that teenagers wanted to be adopted. Then she got to know Maci.

James Owen and family
James Owen and family

Don’t wait for a perfect time. Because teens need families now.

A man from church helped James Owen when he was a teen. He is committed to doing the same for other children today.

Amon family
Amon family

An adoption puzzle comes together

When Mason and Victoria Amon decided to adopt siblings, they didn’t realize that they would soon become a family of eight! Mason shares their experience in this guest post.

Adoptive fathers (left to right) Travis Thompson, Christopher Keen, Scott Arnson, Robert Edwards, and Mike Allred.
Adoptive fathers (left to right) Travis Thompson, Christopher Keen, Scott Arnson, Robert Edwards, and Mike Allred.

Let’s hear from the dads!

We convened a panel of five dads to share their perspectives about adopting—and specifically about adopting teens.

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Foster or adopt: can I really do this?

Here are a few things we often talk about with people who are wondering if fostering or adoption from foster care is right for them.

Picture of journal with entry: "Today she asked me to be her forever mom."
Picture of journal with entry: "Today she asked me to be her forever mom."

10 favorite “firsts” from families who adopted teens

We asked families who follow us on Facebook to share a few of their favorite firsts with us. This is what they told us.

Lesley Field and her daughter, Mikalah
Lesley Field and her daughter, Mikalah

Won over by a hug

In this guest post, a woman who had planned on fostering writes about her path to parenthood.

Sydney Martin and family
Sydney Martin and family

Staying for good

A nursing student talks about bonding with her new family after being adopted as a teen.

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Caseworkers weigh in: advice to prospective parents

We asked five veteran caseworkers what families should think about before pursuing fostering and adopting and what makes families successful. This is what they told us.

The Arnston family
The Arnston family

Firsts with the Arntson family!

In this short video, a family talks about the many firsts they’ve experienced together since adopting a teen.

Outstanding caseworker Beth Volk
Outstanding caseworker Beth Volk

Outstanding Caseworker: Beth Volk

This Illinois caseworker says that being organized and having empathy for birth families are two keys to success.

The Barlow family
The Barlow family

“It’s OK to panic,” and other advice from an adoptive mother

Nicole Barlow wants people to know that she’s not a hero, she’s an average person who took a leap of faith when deciding to adopt five siblings.

Amy Stanton
Amy Stanton

5 tips for parents adopting a child with ongoing medical needs

A mother of three children with special needs who is also a pediatric nurse shares her advice with other parents.

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Watch Instant Family at home!

The movie, about a couple who adopt three children from foster care, is based on the director’s experience.

When you enter the world of fostering and adopting, it helps to learn the language.

Adoption alphabet soup: making sense of the acronyms you’ll encounter

When you enter the world of fostering and adopting, it helps to learn the language.

Outstanding caseworker Joy Nyhuis-Wing
Outstanding caseworker Joy Nyhuis-Wing

Outstanding Caseworker: Joy Nyhuis-Wing

In 21 years of social work, Joy Nyhuis-Wing has learned the importance of educating foster parents, getting them the resources they need—and letting them vent.

Photos of five families
Photos of five families

Live and learn!

Parenting advice from five families who adopted children and teens from foster care.

Joshua Christian
Joshua Christian

A long journey to a great destination

After living in more than 13 foster and group homes, Joshua Christian got an offer he couldn’t refuse: a family.

Outstanding Caseworker Kim Roberts
Outstanding Caseworker Kim Roberts

Outstanding Caseworker: Kimberly Roberts

A Tennessee caseworker credits faith, flexibility, and organization for her success in working with children and teens.

Thompson family
Thompson family

A couple’s plans change—and a family grows

A North Carolina mother talks about adoption and fostering, from newborns to teenagers.

Caseworker Oneida Petrino
Caseworker Oneida Petrino

Outstanding Caseworker: Oneida Petrino

A Colorado caseworker shares what she enjoys about working with families in a small town.

Wempner family
Wempner family

“We did not have a plan. Our hearts were wide open.”

A mother who had given up on becoming a parent talks about the path to adopting four children.

Allred family
Allred family

“If you can provide a safe, happy home, the door is wide open.”

Parents of three adopted children talk about teens and making room for the unexpected.

Williams family
Williams family

When “someday” comes early

A church presentation set a Georgia woman down a path to adopting four siblings.

Instant Family director Sean Anders with film cast
Instant Family director Sean Anders with film cast

Instant Family based on director’s experience

Daddy’s Home director shares his family’s adoption story.

Tracy Steele
Tracy Steele

Outstanding Caseworker: Tracy Steele

Tracy talked with us about her work and why she loves it.

Robinson-Gagner family
Robinson-Gagner family

A sense of permanence

A Vermont family of teens keeps growing—and going.

Tara Taylor
Tara Taylor

Outstanding Caseworker: Tara Taylor

Finding a forever family for a 12-year-old boy included accompanying him on a 1,600 mile flight to his new home.

Kelly and Avita Walters
Kelly and Avita Walters

Giving up on a fairy-tale future—and finding something better

A teacher reconsiders her life plan when a new student joins her class.

Forsmo-Shadid family
Forsmo-Shadid family

“Adopting from foster care is not as scary as you might think!”

A mother shares her experience of adopting five children over the last 15 years.

Segota family
Segota family

“Adopting from foster care is not a sprint—it’s a marathon”

A mother talks about doubling the size of her family after a six-year search.

Meeks family
Meeks family

From heartbreak to parents of eight

A couple learns about the need for families willing to adopt siblings—and takes action.

Marianne Conheady
Marianne Conheady

Outstanding Caseworker: Marianne Conheady

A New York State caseworker shares some of what she’s learned while serving families for 23 years.

Brock family
Brock family

Not perfect—but happy

A mother talks about adopting two school-aged boys shortly after she turned 50.

Busch family
Busch family

Three empty rooms to fill—and a lifetime of love to give

A mother talks about helping the daughters she adopted from foster care thrive.

Caseworker Mariela Arias
Caseworker Mariela Arias

Outstanding Caseworker: Mariela Arias

A licensing specialist in Miami talks about what makes a great foster parent and common misconceptions people have about fostering.

Tricia Spellmon
Tricia Spellmon

“My life has been a roller coaster ride”

A 20-year-old foster care alum talks about how her family supported her success.

Cholewinski family
Cholewinski family

Because we could—and because we should

Justin and Marcie Cholewinski’s commitment to keeping siblings together led them to AdoptUSKids.

Joe Toles and family
Joe Toles and family

“When you turn around, what do you want to see?”

A father who saw what can happen when children age out of foster care talks about adopting five children—including four teens.

Karlik family
Karlik family

“Sometimes Plan B is better than Plan A”

Parents who hadn’t considered adoption step up when their son’s friend needs a family.

Tamiko Jones-Moody
Tamiko Jones-Moody

Outstanding Caseworker: Tamiko Jones-Moody

A South Carolina caseworker reflects on the rewards and successes of a 15-year career.

Aria Williams
Aria Williams

“Being loved has taught me how to love”

A young woman who was adopted as a teen talks about how having a family changed her life.

Buddy and Kim Stevens
Buddy and Kim Stevens

Becoming a transracial family

A mother talks about keeping children connected to their culture.

Bolding family
Bolding family

A couple’s patience pays off

The Boldings searched for a child for two years. Then a caseworker found them.

Outstanding caseworker Sheree Singleton
Outstanding caseworker Sheree Singleton

Outstanding Caseworker: Sheree Singleton

A Pennsylvania caseworker talks about preparing teenage girls to age out of foster care.

Urie family
Urie family

“I’ve come a long way in my life”

A father talks about how his own experience in foster care make him a better parent.

Kathryn Reiss and family
Kathryn Reiss and family

Enriching a family’s life through adoption

A mother talks about how adopting older children was a good fit for the entire family.

Procknow family
Procknow family

“With every child, we learned and grew”

Jamie and Josh Procknow opened their homes and their lives to 20 children in foster care—and their families.

Caseworker Brianna Chavez
Caseworker Brianna Chavez

Outstanding Caseworker: Brianna Chavez

A New Mexico caseworker talks about why, in her work, wearing rose-colored glasses can be a good thing.

Evans family
Evans family

“Our story is more complex than most”

Melanie Evans is quick to point out that hers is far from the “typical” family. And she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Coe family
Coe family

“Adoption has been a privilege and the experience of a lifetime”

A father talks about adopting six children over the last 40 years.

Jessica Garner
Jessica Garner

Outstanding Caseworker: Jessica Garner

A Georgia caseworker talks about the benefits and challenges of working in a small rural community

Matz family
Matz family

“My life is foster care”

Brittany Matz is not sure exactly when it happened. But at some point in her life, she realized that her calling was to help children in foster care.

Caseworker Brittany Breen
Caseworker Brittany Breen

Outstanding Caseworker: Brittany Breen

Focusing on families’ needs, maintaining boundaries, and having a person to call when things go wrong are three of this St. Louis caseworker’s keys to success.

Johnson family
Johnson family

The art of making a family

A couple and their three daughters bond over art and dinner.

Combs family
Combs family

6 years, 4 teens, 8 lessons learned

A father who provides therapeutic foster care shares his advice with other parents.

Steven Allen and his son, Logan
Steven Allen and his son, Logan

“It’s been a journey”

A father who almost gave up on adoption writes about finding his son.

Sauer family
Sauer family

“Take it one step at a time, and appreciate every small success”

A mother realizes her dream of becoming an adoptive parent to teens.

Joe Toles
Joe Toles

“Everybody has a way to impact the lives of kids in foster care”

A father who grew up in foster care talks about the value of hope.

The Devine family
The Devine family

“It’s the hard times that bring you closer”

A mother talks about the experience of adopting two sons—and of losing one.

The Dennis family
The Dennis family

“It was like watching a butterfly come out of a cocoon”

A couple’s consistency, commitment, and game-planning turned a teen’s life around.

Reasons to adopt a teen graphic
Reasons to adopt a teen graphic

13 reasons to adopt a teen

Why adopt a teen? We asked—and our Facebook followers responded!

The Swartz family
The Swartz family

Nine tips for helping a teen succeed

A mother who adopted a 14-year-old boy shares advice and lessons learned.

The Kendrick family
The Kendrick family

Embracing family and community

A family adopts five children from foster care, and the community pitches in.

The Clark-Thompson family
The Clark-Thompson family

“It’s not always easy…but it’s totally worth it.”

A couple who adopted a 16-year-old girl describe the rewards and challenges of their first year together.

The Benstead family
The Benstead family

Committed to each other—and to giving back

A shared interest in community service brought this mother and teen together.

Foster care alum La Tika Smith-Jeffery
Foster care alum La Tika Smith-Jeffery

Learning the language of love

A young woman describes how her adoptive parents’ love and support gave her the confidence to pursue her dreams.

Caseworker Tracey Bullock
Caseworker Tracey Bullock

Standing up for teens

A North Carolina caseworker talks about giving youth the tools they need to age out of foster care.

The Velasquez family
The Velasquez family

Putting their principles into practice

A pastor and his wife share the gift of family.

Foster care alum Melissa Pacheco
Foster care alum Melissa Pacheco

Breaking the cycle

A young woman vows not to repeat her parents’ mistakes.

The Gill family
The Gill family

“We’re not superheroes. We like being parents!”

No empty nest for Amy and Richard Gill. With four adopted sons, their house is full of fun and energy.

Caseworker Katie Bellah
Caseworker Katie Bellah

Playing a role in a family’s success

An Oregon caseworker talks about working with a foster parent to support a child’s reunification with his mother.

The Poole family
The Poole family

A bond beyond language

The Pooles adopted four children with special needs.

Caseworker Rita Richardson
Caseworker Rita Richardson

“Watching families grow has shown me that change is possible”

A caseworker describes her keys to success when working with families.

Adoptive parents David Earp and Joel Guinn
Adoptive parents David Earp and Joel Guinn

“Sometimes you need to open your heart and mind”

David and Joel planned to adopt a baby. Now they are encouraging others to adopt older children.

Foster care alum Thomas McRae
Foster care alum Thomas McRae

“We are just like every other kid—we need guidance and love”

Thomas lived in 11 foster homes. Today he is advocating for other young people in care.

Peggy Manley and her family
Peggy Manley and her family

“I can’t save them all, but I’ll try”

For Peggy Manley, raising two birth children was just the beginning

Debbie Brown and her children
Debbie Brown and her children

“There are too many children in need of homes out there”

A single mother talks about adopting seven children from foster care.

Crenshaw family
Crenshaw family

At home with the Crenshaws

A video series provides a behind-the-scenes look at one family’s adoption journey.

The DeLeon family
The DeLeon family

A chance to make a difference—in the lives of nine children

Rick and Rachel DeLeon have adopted three groups of siblings from foster care.

The Boland family in courtroom on adoption day
The Boland family in courtroom on adoption day

“What I learned from AdoptUSKids revived me with hope”

A mother found the information and inspiration she needed through AdoptUSKids.

The Owens family
The Owens family

How healing and love grew a family

The death of their son inspired Adam and Karen Owens to adopt four medically fragile children.

Caseworker Marsha Carrier
Caseworker Marsha Carrier

4 days + 20 inquiries = 1 adoptive family

A Tennessee caseworker describes her work with a Virginia family who adopted four siblings.

The Gilmore family
The Gilmore family

The long road to adoption

A mother in Virginia talks about adopting four siblings from Tennessee.

Caseworker Kylee Ballensky
Caseworker Kylee Ballensky

Tackling the toughest cases

A Washington State caseworker says that exercise—and sometimes chocolate—keep her going.

Foster care alum Catherine Pearson
Foster care alum Catherine Pearson

Letter to a foster parent

A woman who grew up in foster care thanks her former foster parents.

Steven Williams and son Francis
Steven Williams and son Francis

Finding family through adoption

Steven Williams had written off having a family. Until he found Francis.

The Smith family
The Smith family

Falling in love with our kids

A Texas couple talks about how adopting two teens enriched their lives.

Crystalanne, her parents Kim and Lori, and her siblings
Crystalanne, her parents Kim and Lori, and her siblings

“Of all the kids, they picked me!”

A teenager talks about the experience of being adopted on her 17th birthday.

Sandra and Sunny Santiago
Sandra and Sunny Santiago

Finding the missing puzzle piece

Sandra Santiago-Zayas jokes that she did not adopt her daughter: her daughter adopted her.

Danielle Turnage
Danielle Turnage

“It’s about the children”

A North Carolina social worker says empathy and communication are two keys to her success.

The Rogers family
The Rogers family

Love and time conquer all

An Arkansas couple talks about adopting siblings—twice.

The Hayward family
The Hayward family

Never too old for family

“Who doesn’t need people who truly love them?”

The Woolpert family
The Woolpert family

Helping as many as they can

A couple with Native American heritage responds to the need for families for native children.

Hayward family
Hayward family

Keeping an open mind

Nicole Hayward says her son was “everything we never knew we wanted.”

Correa family
Correa family

Parenting wisdom—gained and shared

“Our job is to make our kids the good people of tomorrow.”

Barry Farmer and children
Barry Farmer and children

Born to be a father

Barry Farmer says that parenting is about compassion, managing expectations, and working hard.

Michael Davis and mother
Michael Davis and mother

“My mom is my angel”

Being adopted gave Michael Davis a stable foundation and encouragement to pursue his dreams.

The Hrabovsky family
The Hrabovsky family

Bringing a community together

After fostering 40 children and adopting 2, the Hrabovskys are leading a foster ministry.

Wilson-McCammon family
Wilson-McCammon family

900-mile journey, instant connection

Reginald and Wesley relocated to Washington, DC, to marry and adopt.

The Class family
The Class family

Starting a second family

Retirement was in sight when Lynne and Santiago Class hit the reset button on their lives.

The Harding family
The Harding family

Called to help children

Adopted from foster care after suffering abuse, today this teen is working to make life better for other children.

The Whyte family
The Whyte family

“A heart for hurting kids”

This 12-minute video offers a glimpse into one family’s life.

The Granger Family
The Granger Family

Following their dream

The Granger family moved into an intergenerational community of foster and adoptive families.

The Logan Family
The Logan Family

Following her heart

Randee Logan’s journey to becoming an adoptive mom began when she was 17.

Carrie Ann Lucas and family
Carrie Ann Lucas and family

Fighting for families

A mother of four and disability-rights advocate shares her story and advice.

Jaquel at graduation
Jaquel at graduation

Paying it forward

“I want to help dispel the myth that youth from foster care can’t be successful.”

The Alvarez family
The Alvarez family

Specializing in special needs

The Alvarez family has opened their home and hearts to more than 100 children.

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About us

AdoptUSKids is a national project working to ensure that children and teens in foster care get safe, loving, permanent homes. We educate families, support professionals, and maintain the nation’s only federally funded photolisting that connects waiting children with families. Learn more.

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Share your story

Help to inspire other families by sharing your adoption story with us. Real stories are a powerful way for families to understand what it means to foster and adopt.

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Recommend an outstanding caseworker

Do you know a caseworker who has gone above and beyond to help children in foster care? We would love to feature them on our blog.