People tend to associate the term ‘adoption’ with infants or very young children, celebrity parents or couples who can’t have children themselves. There is little to no attention paid to those children who are not adopted as a young child or who enter the foster care system at a later age with no permanent family to rely upon.
Enter Pat O’Brien…
You Gotta Believe was founded in by Pat O’Brien in 1995 as a homelessness prevention program. After working in the field of special needs adoption, he noticed that surveys of adults in homeless shelters showed that as many as 50 percent had spent time in foster care. O’Brien realized that it is unrealistic to think that youth ages 18-21 can be prepared to make it on their own in today’s society after being turned out onto the streets by the foster care system. He also noticed that for every teen or older child that was freed for adoption, willing to be adopted, and was still a minor (under 18 years of age), there were at least 2 or 3 other teens who were not freed for adoption, might have told a social worker they didn’t want to be adopted, or might have already turned 18. Those teens needed permanent parents just as much as younger youth who were legally ready for adoption.
So with a group of adoptive parents and young people who aged out of care, Pat conceived of the idea of You Gotta Believe! The Older Child Adoption and Permanency Movement, Inc. This was envisioned as a movement to find permanent parents for teens without regard to their status as a freed child, a willing child, or even a child at all. YGB is focused on one goal – to recruit lifetime parents for teens currently in the foster care system. For those who ask, “Where is Johnny going to live when Johnny gets discharged from foster care?” the answer is simple – “Right here at home with his family.”