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National Adoption Month: How to Help a Foster Child If You Can’t Adopt

10 Nov 2014 – 12:59 PM EST

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November is National Adoption Month. The goal is to raise awareness to the over 100,00 children in the United States foster care system waiting for stable, safe, loving homes of their own.

This is a very important month for my family. We adopted our daughter from the foster care system four Novembers ago when she was nine. However, you don’t have to adopt to help a child. Here are other ways to help foster children.

Donate your time, money and talents.

The needs of foster children are great. If you are in a place to make a monetary donation, there are both national and local agencies that would put it to good use, such as the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Strapped for cash? No problem. Your time and talents will be appreciated, too. The Guardian ad Litem trains volunteers to be mentors and advocates for foster children. Many foster kids are behind academically because of all of their moves, so tutors are always appreciated. Maybe you don’t want to work with kids hands on, but still want to help. Volunteer to help with office work, fundraising efforts, special events, repairing playground equipment or a huge variety of other much needed tasks that are oven overlooked because the money and labor required to accomplish everything just isn’t there.

Collect necessities – and some fun items, too.

Did you know a large majority of foster children are forced to pack their meager belongings in garbage bags when they move to a new placement? Or that many arrive at new foster homes without basics like socks and underwear? Suitcases, socks, underwear, clothes, books, backpacks, school supplies, stuffed animals, toys, toiletries and blankets are all great items to collect for foster kids year round. Just make sure the items are new or in extremely good condition. Receiving hand-me-downs in poor shape makes children feel more different and less desirable. When my daughter sadly told me she hated having all white socks in foster care because that’s what the agency handed out in bulk, we started a collection and ended up distributing thousands of pairs of brightly colored socks to Florida foster children.

Spread the word.

Just because you aren’t in the position to adopt, doesn’t mean someone you know isn’t. Follow adoption organizations on social media and share their posts. Volunteer to be part of a public awareness campaign promoting foster care and adoption in your community. Talking about the needs of children in foster care one of the best – and easiest – ways to help get them met.

Foster children need the support of the community all year, but National Adoption Month is a great time to start. Find a local foster care agency and ask what you can do to help. If foster care or adoption has touched your life, tell us in the comments below.