LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Larry Bowen said it wasn’t in his plan to adopt a child so late in life, but it was the best decision he’s done.

“It’s changed my whole life,” Bowen said.

Larry and his wife retired in Las Vegas in 2007, fostering many children in Clark County over the years.

“During that process, we adopted a little boy who was two days old. He’s now 11, and he’s a wonderful boy,” added Bowen. “His mother lost parental rights as soon as he was born.”

He said it takes more than a father’s love to raise a child but to also provide a safe and loving home. That’s why he’s raising awareness on adoption right here in Clark County and the help available for families.

“The public, let them know you can adopt these children,” said Bowen. “They need homes and it’s sad that a lot of these kids don’t get placed because the public doesn’t know about it.”

Jessica Roe is the Vice President of Programs for Raise the Future, connecting children in foster care with stable and healthy homes.

“As child welfare professionals, we all support reunification from the minute that child enters foster care,” explained Roe. “At times it’s not deemed safe or appropriate to return home to their family, and that’s where we really come in and focus on those youth who need a permanent family.”

Roe said Raise the Future has helped in the placement of 10,735 children in pre-adoptive homes and supporting families with the resources they need.  

“It’s low cost. There’s minimal cost associated with background checks, fingerprinting, and possibly buying a fire extinguisher for your house if you don’t have one. All of the training that people go through is free and our services are free to families as well,” Roe said.

Clark County Department of Family Services (DFS) does not have an Adopt Only Program. In order to be an eligible adoptive resource, you will need to be licensed as a foster parent for DFS and accept foster care placements within 30 days of licensure.

Note: Children placed in your home may not be available for adoption.

Bowen said he was required to foster Samuel for one year before moving into the adoption process.

“If I were 20 years younger, I would’ve adopted more of these children because that’s where my heart is,” Bowen said. “I have been there. I’ve experienced it. I went to 3 different foster homes as a child. Never knew what it was like, it’s devastating. It’s a world you can’t explain until you experience it.”

According to “Raise the Future,” nationally there are 425,000 youth and children in foster care. There are about 3,500 in Clark County alone.

“Samuel loves his home. We treat him like he’s our biological child, no different if my wife would’ve had him,” added Bowen. “He’s excelling in Doral academy, he’s doing guitar, he’s good with electronics and good with math.”

You can also learn more about Raise the Future by calling 702-436-6335 or by clicking here.