NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Opinion: Oklahoma's foster care need as great as ever

In a recent op-ed in The Oklahoman, local attorney Lorenzo Banks issued a call made on these pages many times through the years — for Oklahomans to consider becoming foster parents or adopting. The need is as great as ever.

According to Oklahoma Fosters, which coordinates foster care recruitment efforts among faith, nonprofit, government and other groups, 500 Oklahoma children are waiting for their “forever families.” Nearly 8,000 children are in Department of Human Services custody — an improvement from the 11,000 in custody five years ago, but still far too many.

Banks noted in his article that the COVID-19 pandemic has produced delays with virtual court appearances, put home inspections on hold and led to longer approval times, “all making it more difficult for families to finalize adoptions. Children, in turn, are waiting longer to find their homes.”

In addition, he said, people often are not sure how they can help. He suggested “providing relief care, a cup of coffee or finally hitting ‘send’ on that application to become a foster parent …”

The Oklahoma Fosters website provides answers to many questions regarding foster care.

For example, applicants must be at least 21 and may be married, single, legally separated or divorced. Parenting experience is a plus, but not a must. Are your other children already grown? Not a problem. “Empty nesters often make great foster parents and find it to be a rewarding experience,” the site says.

Foster parents do not have to own a home — many foster or adoptive parents rent their dwellings. The state covers most of the adoption expenses; foster home assessment and training are provided at no charge.

Applicants need to be in good physical and mental health to provide for a child’s needs, must provide acceptable transportation and have a phone. They must have sufficient income to meet current expenses, but certainly do not have to be wealthy.

Becoming a foster parent involves submitting to background checks and, once licensed, completing 12 hours of continuing in-service training each year. Most of all, however, it involves a willingness to help a child in need.

“Applicants must have the ability to love, understand, care for and accept a child to whom they did not give birth,” Oklahoma Fosters says.

One of many myths the organization tries to debunk is that someone cannot or should not become a foster parent because they would get too attached, making eventual separation emotionally difficult.

“It’s true — you will get attached, and it will be painful when a child you love leaves,” the organization says. “But these children have experienced trauma no child should ever face, so by opening your heart and home to them, you can have a lasting positive impact on their lives.”

As 2021 dawns, consider becoming a foster parent or adopting. More information is available at, or by contacting the Department of Human Services at (800) 376-9729.

The Oklahoman Editorial Board

The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Kelly Dyer Fry, Publisher, Editor and Vice President of News; Owen Canfield, Opinion Editor; and Ray Carter, Chief Editorial Writer.. To submit a letter to the editor, go to this page or email... Read more ›