Michigan teens who need adoptive homes share personal stories; November is Adoption Month, as proclaimed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
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LANSING, Mich. – Ameer is a photographer who loves the Avengers movies. Le'Asia wants to demonstrate how to do the perfect cartwheel. Jules has a passion for colorful makeup.

As the state celebrates Adoption Month as proclaimed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during November, the three Michigan teens are among those looking for forever families. Ameer, Le'Asia and Jules, in need of adoptive homes, are featured on the "20 in 2020: Meet the Youth" website, which includes in-depth self-directed stories from the teens using video, photos and their own words.

"Michigan is committed to finding loving adoptive families for youth in foster care as soon as possible," Gov. Whitmer said. "I hope that Michiganders will consider adoption."

MDHHS partnered with the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange, which created the 20 in 2020 project that launched in March. The goal is to produce videos for 20 teens who are awaiting adoptive families by the end of the year.

"Every child deserves a forever family," said JooYeun Chang, executive director of the Children's Services Agency at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). "We have a special request for families who are willing to step forward and provide adoptive homes for teens in our foster care system. These incredible young people have talents, hopes and dreams. We invite you to go online and learn more about them."

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Through 20 in 2020, youth are empowered to be decision-makers and creators, choosing what they want to share as a part of the family search process. They work one-on-one with Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange staff, from initial brainstorm to final review, to create videos, photos, podcasts, narratives, artwork or anything else they feel best represents them.

Sixteen of the 20 profiles have been created. Five of the children already have been matched with adoptive families or have pending adoptive placements.

Other partners in the project are AdoptUSKids and the Northwest Adoption Exchange. It's part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children's Bureau Family Finding and Engagement Initiative.

Approximately 12,100 children are in foster care in Michigan, including more than 300 children who still need a forever family through adoption. That's down from 13,710 in 2018 as MDHHS has focused on keeping families together, reunifying children safely with their families, and finding adoptive homes more quickly when safe reunification is not possible. More than 1,700 children were adopted from Michigan's child welfare system in fiscal year 2020.

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Courts statewide, in partnership with MDHHS, are holding special Adoption Month ceremonies in November at which children officially become permanent members of their new forever families. Included is a Nov. 24 Michigan Supreme Court event that will be held virtually this year. A list of Adoption Day events and profiles of adoptive families can be found on the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange website.

Anyone interested in adopting from foster care can contact the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange at 800-589-6273, or see biographies and photos of children available for adoption at www.mare.org.stats

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