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Saving Children From the Child Welfare System

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I just returned from my son's college graduation from Oberlin College, which was glorious, and made even more emotional by Helen Gayle, the main speaker that morning. She is the CEO of CARE USA, and a leader on global health. She cited some staggering statistics about children and global poverty. There are 2.2 billion children in the world and 1 billion of them live in poverty. 1.4 million of them die each year from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, $75 can provide a class of 25 students with safe drinking water and clean sanitation facilities for an entire year. Ms. Gayle was suggesting that the graduates think about putting aside some of their future earnings to help the children of the world.

This blog isn't about global poverty, but I couldn't help thinking about the fragility of children in general, and specifically in the U.S., and how we, as parents, must do our best to care for our own, and how we as people must do our best to care for those children who do not have parents who can care for them.

This blog is about adopting children from this country who are being brought up in the child welfare system because their parents are no longer willing or able to do so. Children who are basically on their own and looking for a permanent family to belong to.

The great news is that people are responding.

Adoptions from foster care in the U.S. are at a record high... up to 57,000 from 37,000 in 1998, fewer children are waiting for permanent families... 115,000 compared to 135,000 in 2006, and the average wait time has shrunk by a year.

Some of the factors contributing to these encouraging numbers are the Adoption and Safe Families Act which created incentives for states that increased their adoptions of foster children, the adoption tax credit to families, advertising campaigns, websites with profiles of waiting children, and state recruiting programs.

Child-welfare officials are eager to keep this momentum going -- plus make headway in areas where the statistics didn't improve... finding permanent homes for "older" children and teens.

This is exactly my aim in writing this column, and of the Children's Action Network, which makes films of these remarkable "older" children, the ones who are old enough to speak for themselves. They can be seen on the CAN website, on Fox's morning show Good Day LA, and on their website, and here at the Huffington Post.

Today please meet Francisco.

Francisco is 15... very funny and wants to be a video game designer. And never gives up. Really. So much so that he came to the interview and played ball with a hurt ankle.

You can learn more about the children featured in these films and find more information about foster care adoption at ChildrensActionNetwork.org or by calling 1-800-525-6789.