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Adoption bill targets teenage foster youth

State Senator Carole Migden and Mayor Gavin Newsom announced yesterday San Francisco will receive $750,000 in state funding to help older foster children
in the county's system find permanent homes.
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Elizabeth Pfeffer

July 7, 2006

Rubya Domingo, 18, was recently released from San Francisco's foster care system. From age 12 she lived with a handful of foster families, her last placement - for just three months - was the only home she heard "I love you" in.

A new bill by California State Senator Carole Migden (D-San Francisco), is the first of its kind aiming to match older children with adoptive parents in healthy, permanent homes.

Domingo, an advocate for California Youth Connection, an organization promoting policy change by and for foster youth, wishes she had been afforded the same opportunity.

"I thought usually it's just younger kids who get adopted," Domingo said.

The Adoption of Hard-to-Place Teens bill will divide $4 million of California general funds between four cities to assist with identifying candidates, pre and post-adoptive services, training, counseling and respite care.

Mayor Gavin Newsom and State Senator Migden announced at a news conference Thursday that San Francisco will receive $750,000 of the allocation and match 25 percent, totaling almost $1 million.

Los Angeles, which has the highest percentage of foster youth in California, will receive $1.2 million, and the other two cities will be selected after a bidding process.

"It's one thing to focus on foster care and help placements and adoptions for people 11 and younger, it's altogether different to focus those efforts on teenagers," Mayor Newsom said.

About 2,200 children are in San Francisco's foster care system.

According to a City study, 59 percent of all emancipated foster youth were living below the poverty line in 2003.

"It's not just about the placements, it's also about our responsibility to these young adults once they're emancipated out of the system," Mayor Newsom said.

Older, single and gay adults are encouraged to pursue adoption.

"There's a new kind of older parent," State Senator Migden said. "As baby boomers begin to retire and change the fabric and the social morays of this time, there's a willingness to want to pitch in, to do something different, to open their homes to form relationships.

"With life extending to 85, or so, folks that retire have a lot of time."

In San Francisco sexual preference cannot hurt one's chances of adopting, according to Jill Jacobs, Executive Director of Family Builders By Adoption, one of the community partners involved with seeing out the bill's expectations.

Jill Jacobs, Executive Director of Family Builders By Adoption

The organization works with candidates through roughly six months of assessments to determine whether they're qualified to adopt.

"In the Bay Area more than half are LGBT single parents," Jacobs said.

Most outreach is done through grass roots recruitment.

Domingo, still in touch with her last foster mother, hopes the program will succeed in helping teenage foster youth find homes before they become emancipated.




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