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Nonprofit aims to combat negative stereotypes of foster kids
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Over 20,000 teens age out of the foster system each year a staggering number, considering over 80 million Americans have expressed interest in adoption. This might be due to negative stereotypes of the foster system and children in it. - photo by Omar Etman
A nonprofit organization is working to alter negative stereotypes of children in foster care. Given the depressing rates of adoption from the foster-care system, the group has a lot of work to do.

Nearly 400,000 young people are in the foster-care system in the United States, of which over 100,000 are available for adoption, according to the governments foster-care analysis. At the same time, an estimated 81.5 million Americans have considered adoption, the Dave Thomas Foundation found.

Together We Rise, dedicated to improving the lives of foster children in America, who often find themselves forgotten and neglected by the public, is looking to shrink this gap.

This year, Together We Rise has doubled its efforts to get more foster children into homes. Part of the struggle, the group thinks, is combating the negative stereotypes associated with foster kids.

Instead of highlighting trauma narratives, Together We Rise focuses on childrens strengths, Heather Dockray wrote in GOOD Magazine. The goal is to move people away from the idea that foster-care youth are beyond help, beyond reach, beyond compassion. The campaign encourages those 81.5 million people, who often fly abroad to adopt, to consider adopting children from the United States.

To get its message across, the group is attempting to make adoption-day photos, the pictures taken of new families on their first day together, go viral. By sharing families' adoption-day photos, they aim to flip the script on the conversation about the foster system by sharing success stories, Upworthy reported.

Stereotypes of the foster system arent only focused on the children. In a 2013 interview with NPR, foster parents attempted to debunk some of the stereotypes that surround them, namely that they do it for the money or must be saints to take in other people's children.

In a national study, published on ScienceDirect, on public perception of the foster care system, researchers attributed the persistence of negative stereotypes to a lack of research.

Without such research, promoting positive policies, addressing negative stereotypes, recruiting qualified foster parents and workers, and supporting the thousands of children in the foster care system are difficult, they theorized.

While things are getting better (the Dave Thomas Foundations report showed that Americans now have a more favorable view of adopting through the foster system than they do of international adoption), negative stereotypes linger. The adoption-day photos, which Together We Rise sometimes calls gotcha photos, are just the beginning of the fight.