GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — Finding adoptive homes for teens in foster care is a challenge. AdoptUSKids says teens may wait up to twice as long to find a permanent home compared to younger children.

According to the most recent adoption and foster care analysis and reporting system data, teens account for 22% of youth waiting to be adopted from the foster care system. Unfortunately, only about 12% of them find homes while almost 20,000 young people “Age out” of foster care without the support of a family every year.

Here in Mesa County, there are about 23 teens legally free for adoption, 13 of those teens are still in need of homes that would consider adoption. Those teens may be living in group home settings or with families who aren’t prepared to adopt them.

For families interested in adopting a teen, fostering is the first step. This allows families to become certified foster parents and begin the adoption process. There are no guarantees for adoption, human services and teens waiting for adoption must find the right fit. Kim Espindola, Mesa County’s child welfare adoption supervisor, tells us connecting with teens is key to a successful adoption.

If you’re interested in adoption, you can reach out to Mesa County’s foster care supervisor and they can help start the certification process. Kim also mentioned that National Adoption Month is in November. On Nov. 17, Mesa County will host its annual event for National Adoption Day, celebrating adopting families with food and cake.