INDIANAPOLIS (Nov. 16, 2012) -- Governor Mitch Daniels has declared that Indiana will recognize National Adoption Day throughout the state on Nov. 17, to celebrate those families who have adopted children, and to encourage others to consider the more than 1,000 children in the state's foster-care system who are legally eligible for adoption.
Indiana joins states across the country in November that are promoting National Adoption Awareness Month. Currently, more than 104,000 children in the U.S. foster-care system are awaiting adoption.
Last year Indiana completed nearly 1,800 adoptions, a record high for the state.
"But there are still so many children waiting for a family to adopt them and give them that permanent, life-long bond that only a family can provide," said Indiana Department of Child Services Director John Ryan.
Though many prospective adoptive parents prefer adopting a young child, many of Indiana's waiting foster kids are older children, and some with siblings also in foster care. "We strive to find homes where we can keep siblings together," said Ryan. "These kids have suffered enough loss already, and being separated from their siblings forces them to suffer even more. We work to avoid that, but it also presents challenges we have to work through."
Hoosier hearts open homes to children
Ft. Wayne residents Bill and Camilla Johnson are two such people that have heard the call to adopt and embraced it -- not once, but three times. The Johnsons describe the experience of adopting older foster children as “turning your life upside down in the most amazing way.”
After considering international adoption, which the Johnsons advocate for as well, they decided to adopt three foster children from Indiana. “We always had a heart for adoption,” said Bill Johnson, who along with his wife have adopted three girls ages 9, 13 and 15. “But there are kids in need in our own backyard.”
The Johnsons worked with DCS to become trained as foster parents, and then began the process of becoming adoptive parents. “It’s a process in terms of the paperwork, but so very valuable and important.”
Bill Johnson said the foster-parent classes and transition training he and his wife received helped them prepare for what it’s like to adopt a foster child. He admits the training and classes are needed because “foster kids are in the system because something happened in their life that wasn’t supposed to be that way.”
While foster care does provide a safe and caring environment, Bill Johnson explains, foster care “has an assumption built in that it is temporary.” Johnson says adoption tells kids “You matter here; I’m yours and you’re mine.”
To hear an audio interview of the Johnson’s adoption experience, please visit: http://www.in.gov/dcs/2730.htm
Heart Gallery showcases foster kids throughout the state waiting for adoption
To help prospective adoptive parents become aware of foster children waiting for adoption, DCS offers the Heart Gallery, a traveling exhibit featuring photos of kids in need of adoptive families.
This gallery travels to more than 50 venues throughout Indiana each year. In addition, an online gallery is also available featuring adoptable children’s photos and biographies. Hoosier families looking to adopt can visit the online gallery at: www.adoptuskids.org/states/in/browse.aspx.
Throughout November, DCS also is partnering with family court judges and child-placing agencies across the state to encourage and complete adoptions. DCS hopes at least 60 adoptions will be finalized during November.
Community adoption days have already been celebrated in Muncie, Ft. Wayne, North Manchester, Washington, Columbus, Indianapolis, Crown Point, South Bend, Madison, Lafayette and Evansville. Knox will celebrate its community adoption day on Nov. 16, and Connersville on Nov. 26. For more information about public adoption celebrations, visit www.in.gov/dcs/2740.htm.
About Indiana Department of Child Services:
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, children are placed with relatives or in foster care. 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 programs designed to prevent child abuse and neglect. Indiana Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline: 800.800.5556. www.in.gov/dcs.