New York state will likely soon enact groundbreaking legislation to restore parental rights in limited cases to neglectful parents who have been rehabilitated. Only a few other states, including California and Washington, have enacted similar laws to help restore families. Although New York Bill A8524/S03868 is necessary to help some of the many children waiting in foster care “limbo” with no prospects of adoption to return to safe and loving families, it wouldn’t need to exist in a world that cared more about keeping families safe and together.

More than 8,000 children in New York were in foster care waiting to be adopted in 2006, the most recent year for which numbers are available. (New York state has the third highest number of children waiting nationwide.) As is true with children in foster care nationwide, they are disproportionately from low-income or minority households. Adoptive families are scarce for many of these children. Many, especially older children or those with special needs, live for years in foster care as legal orphans after their parents’ rights have been terminated. The sad statistics reveal that children in the United States remain in foster care an average of 38 months after a termination. Many will remain in foster care throughout adolescence without being adopted.

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