Each week we introduce you to East Texas children available for adoption. And it comes as no surprise the that youngest are the ones to find homes first. Roughly 1,500 foster youth leave the state's care each year without a permanent home or family to provide them with support in their first years of adulthood. There is a specific population of foster children who are the most hard to place in a forever family, teenage boys.
Romelo has been feature on the Gift of Love several times while in foster car. This 14-year-old has been in foster care since age 7 and in that time has been in 10 different foster homes.
"Children of color, minorities, old kids, especially kids over the age of seven usually have a hard time getting adopted," Intensive Adoption Coordinator Ashley Gipson said.
Kids like Romelo, who desperately want a family.
"Go camping, have fun together mainly, going on lots of journeys," Romelo said.
Romelo only has three more years before he ages out of the state's system.
"Once these kids age out of care at 18. They are kind of lost," Gibson said.
15-year-old Dez is another child that is close to aging out of the system. Dez, who loves sports and music, has been in care since 2009.
"My older kids, just like the little ones want a family of their own. they want to feel like they are apart of a family, that they are connected," Gibson said.
Quancell, also 15, hopes to find a family too.
He has been in the state system since the age of 7, more than half his life.
And if they don't get placed, statistics don't paint a pretty picture.
Transitions to independence without a family's emotional or financial support prevents many of these young men from reaching their true potential.
"There is a great percentage of kids who age out of foster care they end up either in jail, they end of homeless or they end up repeating the cycle which means they have kids and their kids are back in foster care," Gipson said.
Here's a look at the statistics.
- foster care alumni are more than twice as likely to drop out of high school.
- after four years of independence from the foster care system, only half of former foster youth hold a job.
-30% of homeless adults report having been involved in the foster care system.
-among male foster youth and alumni, 30% are incarcerated by age 19.
For children like 13 year old Elijah, these statistic could very well become a reality. But they don't have to. Elijah has been in the system since age six. He wants more than anything to be with a forever family.
"Having a family that cares about me and if I'm down build me back up," Elijah said.
"they deserve to be adopted. they deserve to have a family of their home," Gibson said.