LUBBOCK, Texas — Foster care in Lubbock County struggles to find enough placements for children over the age of three, and the Children’s Home of Lubbock wants people interested in volunteering, fostering, mentoring or adopting to reach out.

Josh Galindo, the Foster Care and Adoptive Home recruiter with the Children’s Home said they receive anywhere from five to 10 emails and phone calls a day asking for placements, but they do not have enough foster families.

He said the Children’s Home has dozens of beds in its emergency shelter and cottages, however, they do not have enough staff to supervise the facilities, so beds remain unfilled.

Substance abuse is the No. 1 reason why children enter the foster care system in Lubbock. Galindo said some children come to the shelter mid-withdrawal because they either ingested drugs found in the home or were born with drugs in their system.

Misconceptions about foster children cause hesitation amongst families, said Darla Adams. Adams fostered and adopted two children from the Children’s Home. She and her husband Steve adopted a newborn 14 years ago and recently adopted a 14-year-old boy. They hoped their story might encourage people to consider fostering or adopting older children.

The Adams’ and Galindo both said toddlers and babies are easier to place than older children, or children with behavioral needs because a lot of families want to adopt young children without memories of trauma.

“There are older children who are out here for no reason of their own. A misconception that I had is that their stories… They didn’t happen here in Lubbock,” Darla Adams confessed. “Kids weren’t homeless. Kids weren’t being abused at the rates they are. Kids weren’t starving. Not in Lubbock,” Darla Adams shared.

The Adams could not believe the truth when they went through training: “how many children are in group homes. They are full. They are at capacity.” In their experience, older foster kids are usually more responsible, the “parents” of their siblings, but that does not mean they do not need a loving caretaker and unconditional support.

Galindo echoed the sentiment that many foster children do have challenging behaviors at times but understanding trauma and how each child copes with extraordinary life circumstances is key.

He also acknowledged the developmental aspect as it relates to trauma, saying children experience tough situations differently because their brains are not fully developed. For adults looking into fostering, training and learning is a vital and constant component necessary to the children’s success.

The Children’s Home of Lubbock provides continuous support to its foster families before and throughout placements.

“It takes very special kinds of people to do this kind of thing, but we definitely encourage people to at least explore that, to see if that’s something they can do,” said Galindo.

“An older child takes adjustment time. [Our son] is still coming to terms that he has people to stand up for him. He has people that believe in him and want him to do the best,” said Darla Adams.

When the Adams asked their recently adopted son if he wanted to be fostered by them, “He actually teared up. I asked him what he thought about it, and he said it would be the best thing that ever happened to me,” Darla Adams explained.

The foster care system statewide is also overwhelmed. Nearby cities, like Amarillo, have called agencies in Lubbock hoping to find available beds for their children, but Lubbock is experiencing the same problem.

When Lubbock agencies run out of beds, they can place children in cities like Austin, San Antonio or Dallas. Galindo said they do not like outsourcing because uprooting children from their support systems and separating them from their siblings can worsen already tough situations.

With no other options, some parents lose visitation because they do not have the means to travel hundreds of miles to visit with their children. When children are placed out of state, it is usually because they are staying with relatives.

Galindo said if someone is not able to foster but they still want to help, there are plenty of other ways to do that.

If you are interested in fostering or volunteering with the Children’s Home of Lubbock, you can visit their website to view the requirements.

A list of other Lubbock foster agencies can be found here.