GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Lisa McGinnett has four adopted children and is currently caring for 1 foster child. One of her children was adopted as a teenager.
“It was never on my radar to adopt a teenager, it was never in my wildest dreams. However he was a friend of my son in middle school and it was natural for him to come into our home and become a part of the family,” says McGinnett.
But not all kids in the foster system are so lucky. In the United States more than 23,000 young people get out of the foster system with nowhere to turn, according to the National Foster Youth Institute.
“It breaks my heart honestly, to think a child would get out of the system and not have an emergency contact they could trust, who has their back, who would celebrate things with them, it breaks my heart,” says McGinnett.
While there are parents lined up to give a child a new home, even in Mesa county, most of those people are waiting to take in a baby. In Mesa county, there are about 200 children and youth in foster care, and the average age of those kids is over 9 years old.
“We are having to make several calls, sometimes they have to go out of the county, out of the state, because we just can’t find foster homes who will take them,” says Sarah St.Martin, the Placement Resource Manager at Mesa County Department of Human Services.
Placing children into foster homes gets harder as the children get older. That’s why St.Martin says teens are the age group that has the highest need for foster parents. “I think people are scared of teenagers. teenagers talk back, and they’re learning who they are, and that’s scary for people,” says St. Martin.
But it’s still important for adults to step up. Because whether you’re a little toddler or old enough to drive, everyone needs a place to call home.
“I can’t even imagine leaving the home at like 18 years old and having nowhere to go for Christmas. Or no one to tell you how to fix a flat tire. or to call and cry to about a breakup. We want all of our kids to have those people in their lives and every person deserves that,” she says.