While older children are more likely to face difficulty in adoptive placements, most placements are successful, said Pertman.
But the consequences for children who can't find a steady home are severe: Those who grow up in foster care instead of being adopted often face serious problems, including poor education, low income, early parenthood, substance abuse, and physical and mental health problems.
Galen Stevenson declined to discuss the problems that caused George's son to be sent away, out of concern that it might influence court proceedings. But he said the younger Galen exhibited erratic, confounding behavior.
"He would do stuff that made you say, 'Why would do you something like that?'" he said.
Whatever it was, George "didn't perceive it to be as extreme as it might have been, because he was used to dealing with so much" through his work with other troubled kids, Smith said.
Facebook postings by George Stevenson include pictures of Galen on his first day of high school and the two of them at an Orioles game. Galen went by "Trey," his birth name. Relatives said the boy's name was changed upon adoption to signal a new beginning.
Galen said his brother's decision to name his son after him was "beautiful." But he said it also makes what happened to George tougher to handle.
According to police and court documents, George Stevenson and his son got into "an argument over money," and Galen attacked his father on April 24. The documents indicate that George was able to call 911 for help as Galen fled. Police describe Galen as a stepson, but relatives say officers had incorrect information.
Rashelle Stevenson, who spoke to George shortly before the incident, said that while her brother had planned to confront Galen about a problem, he never got the chance.
Galen had used George Stevenson's credit card to buy pizza with friends, something that had been a continuing problem, she said. The bank told George that he needed to press charges to recover the funds, a step he had resisted. But that night, he had determined that might be the only way to address the problem. she said.
According to Rashelle, George picked up his home phone not knowing Galen was home and overheard Galen telling someone that he was going to kill his father. George also was on his cellphone at the time with his girlfriend, who told Rashelle she then heard George cry out amid what sounded like a fight. The girlfriend called 911 and asked officers to go to the apartment.
Police say George Stevenson suffered more than 20 stab wounds and a stroke. He died at Johns Hopkins Hospital on May 18. Galen was arrested and has been charged with attempted first-degree murder, charges that could be upgraded in light of his father's death.
George Stevenson's brother Galen and sister Rashelle say they are unsure how to continue a relationship with their nephew.
"We're Christians, and we're taught to forgive. So I forgive him. But I'm going to let the law do what they have to do," the brother said. "I'm hoping later down the line that I can sit down and talk to him without being angry with him. He needs somebody to sit down and talk with him."
The Stevensons are adamant that foster care and adoption are fulfilling both for families and the children. Galen's adopted son is on the honor roll and is president of the student council, he says.
"Trey is not the norm," he said.
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