“You Can’t Imagine the Reward” PSAs showcase heartwarming moments 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 have launched a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) that encourage prospective parents to consider adopting teens from foster care. Now with an impressive 15 years spreading awareness about this important issue, the campaign’s newest work uses real stories to reveal the bonds that cement a family together and showcases some of the many moments that make teen adoption so rewarding.

“Since our campaign launched 15 years ago, we’ve helped connect more than 32,000 children with their adoptive families through AdoptUSKids.org,” said Michelle Hillman, Chief Campaign Development Officer of the Ad Council. “We’re thrilled to continue this uplifting work and show prospective parents the love that can come from adopting a teen from foster care.”

Approximately one in five youth in the US foster care system waiting to be adopted are teens, and since 2013 the number of teens in foster care continues to increase each year. Teenagers in foster care face a particularly challenging time getting adopted, with 15- to 17-year-olds waiting on average twice as long for an adoptive home as children 14 years old 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.

“Meeting with young people regularly who have left the foster care system, some with permanent families and some without, we are reminded routinely and emphatically how important a sense of belonging and connection through being a part of a family is to these young people and others like them,” stated Jerry Milner, the Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau. “When we allow children and youth for whom we have responsibility to leave our foster care system without one of the most important ingredients for their long-term success and well-being – a permanent family – we are doing them an injustice and perpetuating trauma in their lives.  Ensuring that they have permanency and stability in their lives must be a primal responsibility for all of us in child welfare.”

Oftentimes, prospective parents look forward to the milestones associated with raising a child from birth—such as teaching a child how to walk or speak, but don’t think about the rewards that come with raising a teen. This new creative serves as an extension of the campaign’s previous rounds of work and reminds viewers that adopting a teen from foster care also comes with its own benefits and life-changing moments. Ultimately, the work illustrates that teens can have as much of an impact on their family’s life as parents have in theirs.

Inspired by true stories and anecdotes from real families, the PSAs are filled with heartfelt memories that actual adoptive families have experienced after adopting a teen. Each PSA ends with “Learn about adopting a teen from foster care. You can’t imagine the reward,” reminding prospective parents that teens in foster care can also help them grow in new ways. In a new approach for the campaign this year, there will also be poignant docu-style videos featuring three real families talking about the rewards and experiences of adopting their teen.

“We spent hours talking with adoptive families during the creative process,” said Leo Leone, Executive Creative Director at Barbarian. “In those conversations, we found their stories to be genuinely compelling—often ending conversations with both smiles on our faces and tears in our eyes. That was the center of our creative idea—real, emotional, life-changing moments built on these special family relationships.”

The Ad Council will distribute the new TV, radio, print, out-of-home and digital PSA materials 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 $608 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 adopted youth and premiering the new PSAs.

The work directs 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.

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