The Indiana Dept. of Child Services (DCS) has much to celebrate. November is National Adoption Awareness Month, a time to remember forever families created through adoption. DCS kicked off the month-long recognition today with a news conference in the State Capitol Rotunda keynoted by Adoption Manager Sandra Caesar. The event included recently-adopted children, foster children, adoptive parents, foster parents, DCS adoption staff and several portraits of waiting children from the Indiana Heart Gallery.
Though National Adoption Awareness Month is a nationwide campaign to encourage families throughout the United States to open their hearts and homes to children waiting to be adopted, the particular focus is the adoption of children currently in foster care. There are approximately 107,000 children and youth nationwide waiting for permanent families in the foster care system. In Indiana, approximately 1,400 foster kids have had their parental rights terminated and about 300 of those are available for immediate adoption.
“When the biological parents cannot be part of a child’s life, then an adoptive mother or father becomes a child’s most important influence. Children with a caring and involved adoptive parent are better able to realize their full potential,” noted DCS Director James Payne. “Adoptive parents can help their children thrive by encouraging them to aim high, work hard and make good choices that will lead to healthy and satisfying lives.”
It’s especially appropriate that National Adoption Awareness Month is positioned in the month of November when Americans celebrate a time of thanksgiving. Through the marvel of adoption, thousands have celebrated the unique joys of creating families with children from foster care. Since 2005, DCS has finalized an average of 1,363 adoptions per year and last year celebrated the completion of 1,542. Those numbers have been helped, in part, by the dramatic changes in adoption over the past 30 years. Today, to be eligible to adopt a child from the foster care system, you do not have rich, own your own house or even be married. You only need space in your heart to provide love for a child.
While many prospective adoptive parents would prefer adopting an infant, many of Indiana’s waiting children are older kids or are in sibling groups. Siblings need to find homes that will keep them together so they will not be separated and suffer additional loss. Older kids—some in their teens—offer several distinct adoption advantages. Adopting an older child may allow the adoptive parent to:
- Learn more about the child's built-in abilities and curiosities.
- Match personal interests and personality with the child-to-be.
- Glimpse into the child's past to help develop an understanding of their memories and key people in their lives.
- Interact immediately by playing games or participating in family outings.
DCS continues to focus on bringing attention to these kids-in-need, providing pertinent information to prospective adoptive parents and resources to current adoptive mothers or fathers.
To help build awareness, DCS developed a compelling exhibit of photographic portraits of children in need of adoptive families. Called the Indiana Heart Gallery, the traveling exhibit began making stops at various public venues in 2007. Using the talents of professional photographers who volunteer their time, the individual spirit and true personality of each child is captured. The Gallery can feature more than 40 portraits, depending on the size of the exhibit area. (The Gallery was featured today at the kick-off event.)
An online Picture Book with photos and short bios of adoptable kids is also available (see http://www.in.gov/dcs/2737.htm). To help answer questions about foster child adoptions, there are several adoption specialists strategically located throughout the state. (They’re called SNAP Specialists; see http://www.in.gov/dcs/2735.htm .) And to provide support for parents that adopt a foster child, DCS offers a full array of post-adoptive services, including information, referral, therapy, crisis intervention, support groups and mentoring.
These are very real children who desperately need families of their own. Though waiting kids come from a variety of backgrounds—some have physical or mental disabilities, some are part of a sibling group and many are older children or adolescents—DCS continues to work to prove that there is no such thing as an unadoptable child.
Top 10 Reasons to Consider Adopting a Foster Child:
#10– Others tell you that you are good with kids.
#9 – Your commitment will help change a child’s future.
#8 – Patience and a sense of humor are two of your greatest strengths.
#7 – You have a heart that is bigger than your home.
#6 – Reaching out to others seems natural to you.
#5 – You have a spare bedroom and would rather it go to a child than become yet another storage closet.
#4 – You know how important it is to be part of a family.
#3 – You are ready to accept the challenge of parenting a special child.
#2 – You believe every kid counts.
And the #1 reason to consider adopting a foster child: Today there are more than 300 foster children in Indiana waiting for forever homes.
About Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS): DCS is committed to protecting children who are victims of abuse or neglect. The Agency’s primary goal is to safely keep these children at home with their families by offering appropriate support services. If safety continues to be a concern, relative or foster care placements are necessary. DCS also oversees adoptions from the foster care system and manages the Child Support Bureau. The Kids First Trust Fund, supported by the sale of ‘Kids First’ specialty automobile license plates, subsidizes child abuse and neglect prevention programs. In collaboration with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, DCS’ Books for Youth initiative is targeting a Super Goal for the Super Game: collect 750,000 books for foster kids by Feb. 2012. Child abuse/neglect hotline: 800.800.5556. www.in.gov/dcs.