We are proud to say that our families fight to keep brothers and sisters together. It’s not uncommon for Downey Side families to take in two, three, or more, siblings at the same time. As you can imagine, this has a tremendously positive impact. It also means that children adopted through Downey Side skew older, with an average age over eleven compared to the national average of under six.

The foster care system is hiding in plain sight all around you. That almost 500,000 children are without permanent, loving families isn’t a secret but how they live and what must be done to help them remains a mystery to most Americans. Written for people unfamiliar with children’s services, this book brings to light the experiences of families who have undertaken the journey of adoption. When you read America’s Youngest Hostages, you’ll understand the motivation that’s driven the Downey Side community for half a century, and hopefully, be inspired to become part of the solution for the future.


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Downey Side began in 1967, when Father Paul Engel brought Brian Champoux, aged sixteen, into the home of Margaret Downey. With this act, Brian gained a permanent family and Margaret became a single mother, at the age of fifty-eight. We’ve always understood that love gives families their shape. Today, across America there is a tremendously urgent need for adoption. The stability of family life—regardless of race, ethnicity, marital status, sexual orientation or identity and any other labels attached—is the anchor children need.