New PSAs showcase heartwarming “firsts” for adopted teens and their families

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services(HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), AdoptUSKids and the Ad Council today launched a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs). The new PSAs, created pro bono by advertising agency Forsman & Bodenfors New York, highlight the importance of adopting teens from foster care and emphasize the many “firsts” families experience when adopting a teen from foster care.

“This campaign has made a lasting impact on so many lives since it first launched in 2004, and we’re not done yet,” said Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “So far, we have helped more than 30,000 youth find homes and are thrilled to watch that number continue to grow as more potential adoptive parents become aware of the issue and give teens in foster care the love and stability they deserve, including the many ‘firsts’ they will experience as a family.”

Approximately one in five youth in the US foster care system waiting to be adopted are teens,and the number of teens in foster care continues to increase. Teenagers in foster care face a particularly challenging time getting adopted, with 15- to 17-year-olds, after the termination of parental rights, waiting on average twice as long for an adoptive home as children/youth 14 years of age and younger. No matter their age, all kids need a supportive, loving home, and the teenage years are an especially critical period for parental help and guidance.

“As a case carrying social worker in Alabama, many of the young people I worked with were older teens in the foster care system,”says Jerry Milner, the Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau. “Many of these young people are experiencing foster care through no fault of their own, and I believe we must do a better job of highlighting the importance a forever family has on these older youths’ well being and the impact it plays on their transition to adulthood. Even with our stronger focus on primary prevention, we know that there will still be a need for foster care and furthermore, some of those young people becoming eligible for adoption. I am excited to see and proud to be a proponent of this greater focus on the need to adopt older teens from foster care. We know family, by any definition, is the best resource we have to create an environment for young people to be safe,healthy, and ultimately thrive.”

Many parents look forward to their journey of raising a family and experiencing “firsts”with their babies—such as first steps and first words—but often don’t think of first experiences with teens. The new creative, an extension of the campaign’s successful “you don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent” strategy,highlights the impact of adopting teens from foster care and showcases that there are many “firsts” for families to share, regardless of their child’s age.The new PSAs feature lighthearted scenarios ranging from asking someone to prom,getting a driver’s license, handling a first break-up, and playing in their first big game. Each PSA ends with “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent. Thousands of teens in foster care can’t wait to share their firsts with you,” reassuring prospective parents that they can certainly provide the love, stability and security that teens in foster care need and deserve. The new set of creative assets include TV, and digital materials.

“As a platform, ‘Firsts’ offers enormous creative potential, allowing us to dial up emotion and humor in different channels: TV spots that tug at the heart, clever social animations, and documentary storytelling grounded in a real family,”said Forsman & Bodenfors New York group creative director Matt Creamer. “The common thread is work that makes a powerful statement to potential adoptive parents, reminding them that whether your child is 15 months or 15 years there are plenty of ways to shape their minds and hearts.”

The Ad Council will distribute the new PSAs to media outlets nationwide this week. Per the Ad Council’s model, the PSAs will run in time and space donated by the media. Since the initial launch of the campaign in 2004, the campaign has received more than $595 million in donated media support across television,radio, print, out-of-home and digital media. At launch, AdoptUSKids will be supporting the campaign by hosting a Facebook Live event, featuring engaging discussions with adoptive parents and adopted teens. AdoptUSKids will also premiere the new PSAs during a Facebook Live stream.

The PSAs direct audiences to visit AdoptUSKids.org or to call 1-888-200-4005 to receive information about the foster care system and the adoption process. Potential foster and adoptive families can also call 1-877-236-7831 for information in Spanish.

For more information about adoption, or about becoming an adoptive parent to a child or teen from foster care, please visit AdoptUSKids.org or visit the AdoptUSKids social communities on Facebook and Twitter.

Ad Council Background:

After launching its “Firsts” campaign last month, Ad Council is back with a docu-style film that tells the true story of how an adoptive family celebrates real milestones with their child–no matter what age they are. Parents who adopt kids from foster care feel a calling to do it, but it often takes years to act upon. Prospective parents may feel like they need to be all-star parents in order to handle the demands of raising a teenager from foster care. Fear, doubt, pessimism, and apprehension all deter folks from feeling that they are ready to take on the task of raising a teen “from scratch”.  This film aims to break down the considerable emotional barriers that prevent families from adopting teens and spark a fire in prospective parents’ hearts to make a difference in someone’s life.

Animated by Andrew D. Zimbelman  and directed and edited by Forsman & Bodenfors in-house studio, “ Firsts with the Arntson’s” tells the story of the Arnston family, who added to their family of four by adopting Isaiah as a teen. Their story debunks the myth that the only way to enjoy milestones is to raise a child from infancy. Prospective parents may fear that not being a part of a child’s life from the very beginning would mean that they would not witness a child’s special moments such as first walk, first word, etc. This film seeks to highlight all of the amazing and rewarding “firsts” a family can experience with a child in those teenage years.

The truth is–when you adopt a teen–you may miss out on first steps, first words or the first day of school, but there are still plenty of milestones to be enjoyed. You still have the opportunity to create lasting impact and unique memories and this film illustrates that with vignettes about Isaiah’s first time driving a car, his first Thanksgiving, and the first time he felt truly comfortable in his new home.

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