While November is often associated with Thanksgiving, a national observance is hoped to expand the theme of thanksgiving into a whole new realm.
November, which is celebrated as national adoption month, is a time when agencies that specialize in facilitating adoptions hope to clear up some misconceptions about adoption, and also promote the practice to families who may have thought of it, but never tried to learn more.
“Basically, it’s a process that involves 36 hours of training to learn how abuse and neglect affects children, and how you need to parent as a result of that,” said Julie Jordan, with Clermont Children’s Services. “There is also an assessment process where you work in conjunction with a social worker to assess what type of children you would be best fit to parent.”
While time consuming, Jordan said that the process isn’t particularly difficult or expensive, which is a major misconception about adopting. In reality, the process to become certified to adopt is the same as becoming certified to act as a foster parent.
“The process, on average, takes six months,” said Jordan. “It depends on the family and their willingness to get into class and how quickly they get their paperwork in. Most of our families are also licensed foster parents, because the majority of our children who are adopted are adopted by their foster parents. That approval process is the same, basically. For children you adopt through a public agency, there are minimal costs associated with the final adoption process, and those costs are often recouped through a subsidy.”
Todd and Angie, a couple living in Clermont County who just completed the adoption of two children, said that the process was not only enjoyable, but handled professionally at every level.
“Going through Clermont County, the social workers we worked with were absolutely wonderful,” said Todd. “Even with their workload, they payed every bit of attention they could to us, and definitely had a vested interest in the children they placed with us. We got into looking to adopt and decided to foster to adopt. As we went through the process, we felt that there were so many children that needed a home, we would be willing to open up to foster. When the two children we recently adopted came to us, we opened our home and they never left.”
The couple, who were each raising children from previous marriages, decided to adopt rather than start over with babies. After examining the amount of children in need of a home, Todd said that there was little doubt that adoption would be the choice for them.
“I said to her, there are so many children out there without parents that need families, so why don’t we look at it?” said Todd. “The moment we did, we never looked back. You can look at them and cannot tell that they were not originally a part of our family, they blended so well. It’s been a great experience.”
Overall, Jordan said that there is a huge need for adoptive families, noting that Clermont County is about on par with other areas in terms of available children waiting for a home.
“Nationwide, there are 118,000 children in the foster care system awaiting adoption,” said Jordan. “They range in age from birth to 18, and many of them are members of a sibling group. We always try to keep siblings together when possible. The need is pretty much the same everywhere. We’re always in need of adopting parents, specifically for foster to adopt parents. Again, the majority are adopted by foster parents. This year, Clermont County has facilitated the adoption of 55 children.”
While children’s services is a public agency, Jordan said that there are also private agencies that specialize in adoption, although those often cost more. Todd said that the help they received during the adoption helped them to defray the costs, although that wasn’t taken into account when the decision to adopt was made.
“It’s sad to see what some of these kids have gone through,” said Todd. “It would be great if a lot more people were open to it. We hear a lot of people say that adoption is expensive. What’s expensive is everyone wants a baby. There are a lot of children with problems, but for most of them, the only problem is they don’t have a family. People should open their minds and hearts and homes to older children. And while we didn’t get into this for financial reasons, there are so many options to help people adopt. There are subsidies, tax breaks, and we didn’t know we were entitled to that until we were in the process. There’s help out there.”
Todd added that the two children he and his wife adopted have really become a part of the family, and when possible, still visit with their biological grandmother. In fact, he said that they are considering the adoption of three more children, should the opportunity arise. After looking at some adoption agencies online, Todd said that he is saddened to see children who have remained available for adoption for a year or more.
“We’ve been looking for a year, and it’s sad to say that there are still some of those children there a year later,” said Todd. “All they want is a family. We can’t take every child, but if more people were exposed, it would be a benefit.”
For more information, visit Adopt Ohio online at http://jfs.ohio.gov/oapl/ or Clermont County Children’s services at www.clermontforkids.com. Also, adoptuskids.org provides national information on adoption. Further adoption orientated activities are planned locally, and Jordan added that a television special “Home for the Holidays” produced by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption will air on Dec. 22 on CBS.