By Ashley McCarty
Defender of the People
Adoption can be a life-changing and life-changing experience for both the child and the future parent.
The adoption process begins when an agency receives a report of child abuse or neglect. If the allegation warrants removing the child from the home, the child is placed in a foster home, foster care or residential center, such as our local Wilson Children’s Home.
“Once the investigation is completed, the case is then transferred to an ongoing worker. The permanent worker will help the family achieve the goals and objectives of the case treatment plan in order to rectify any problems and work towards reunification with the family and the child. If reunification cannot be achieved, the agency can then file a petition with the court through its legal representative for permanent custody or termination of parental rights, ”said Dawn Grooms, Adoption and Adoption Specialist. Adoption, Adams County Children’s Services.
Section 2151.414 of the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) describes the rules for determining whether or not it is in the best interests of the child to terminate parental rights permanently and grant permanent custody to the agency.
“If Adams County Children Services receives permanent custody of a child, then the matter goes to a certified adoption assessor. Adams County Children Services currently has three adoption assessors with the agency. The adoption assessor deals with the case and assists the prospective adoptive parents and the child through the adoption finalization process, which ends with a final court hearing. The process from the first admission report to finalizing the adoption can take 18-24 months or more, ”said Grooms.
A child must live with a prospective adoptive parent for at least six months before a final adoption decree can be issued. Most adoptions finalized through Adams County Children’s Services involve a child who was initially placed in a foster home. Once the agency obtains permanent custody, the child can be adopted by his foster parents.
“In order for a person or family to be approved for foster care or adoption, they must complete 36 hours of pre-service training, criminal record checks, child abuse / neglect registry checks, research of sex offenders, medical statements, fire inspection, proof of finances / expenses, home safety inspection and home survey / visits with foster / adoption specialist. A family can be approved for foster care only, adoption only or concurrently for foster care / adoption, ”said Grooms.
Since 2016, Adams County Children’s Services has facilitated 70 adoptions.
“Adoption is important because it ensures the stability and permanence of children, so that they do not languish indefinitely in foster care. Ideally, children could safely return to their primary family; However, when this cannot be achieved, a legally secure permanent placement should be obtained and located for children in the permanent custody of Adams County Children’s Services. Research shows that children have the best results when they grow up in a stable and secure home, ”said Grooms.
Currently, there are 16 children in the agency’s permanent care who do not have identified adoptive families. These children are between 10 and 17 years old.
“It is important for these children to have a safety net to help them grow into adulthood and become productive members of society. There are over 3,000 children on duty in the state of Ohio. It is important that communities come together and help take care of these children. So many children in our care have been able to be placed with related / unrelated families that they have met through school, sports, clubs, churches, Wilson Children’s Home mentorship program, etc. These children have suffered many traumas; from a one-off situation to years of abuse and neglect, ”said Grooms.
It’s not always an easy business, but kids need a safe adult they can count on, she said.
“Can you imagine your teenager alone at 18, with little or no adult advice? This is what many adolescents face when they break free from foster families, group homes or residential facilities. The State of Ohio has the BRIDGES program that can help a young adult, but it’s not the same as calling a trusted “mom or dad” for advice, emotional support, financial aid, help with moving house, writing a resume, starting college, etc. many more “rites of passage” to become an adult. Children do better in stable, supportive families and that is why adoption is so important to me personally and professionally, ”said Grooms.
An anonymous adoptive parent shared his personal story about the transformative and beneficial journey adoption can be.
“When we were initially asked to become foster parents, we both reluctantly agreed. We had heard others lament, “I don’t know if I could ever do this” and received these clichéd questions like “What if this is not the right solution?” “And” what if they go back to their families? I could never do that. ‘ All of this – and more – came from family and friends who had the best of intentions and only looked after us, ”the parent said.
We certainly had our own concerns, they said.
“At the top of the list, we have biological children and we have sought to continue to provide them with a safe and budding social and emotional health system. The addition of a sibling, especially one who has the potential to one day be removed from our home and reunited with their family, made us wonder: what impact would this have on our lives? current children? Despite all the uncertainties, we allowed a lot of prayer and listening from our hearts to finally overflow to take the plunge and become foster parents, ”said the parent.
The family went to school, got their house ready, and then got the call.
“There was an eight month old child who needed a home. We sat down with our children and did our best to explain the situation to them. They had a brother. He may not be here forever. “In fact, we explain, this is in fact the plan. But he needs us now. We explained to our children the importance of our work with this child: to play with him, to rock him and to love him deeply as if he were our own, ”said the parent.
– and that’s exactly what we did, they said.
“We have learned so much from the little one who joined our life. We have learned the need to build resilience; we have learned how fundamental compassion is in all areas of life. We have learned that outnumbering children in the household is more of an adventure than a worry. Over the past few months, we have laughed a lot and also held back tears at different times. We are so lucky to be a part of this little one’s life, even if it is only temporary, ”said the parent.
They have since taken him to therapy sessions, bought glasses for the child, introduced him to new foods, and watched him learn to walk.
“After a few weeks of having our adopted child, our 6 year old biological daughter introduced him to her friends saying, ‘He’s my brother right now. Her mother is working on getting better. But right now, he needs love – and my family has a lot of love to give. Maybe someday her mom will be better, but right now I’m happy that I can love her. ‘ Our hearts have never been so full. We are so proud to be foster parents and to have had the opportunity to love our foster child. We’re better people at it. Maybe your family also has “lots of love to give,” or maybe your family can support these little ones who need love by voting in their honor, ”the parent said.
Bride and groom can imagine that there are a lot of questions or concerns when considering adding one or more children.
“We’ve all heard the ‘horror stories’ of adoption, but there are also a lot of great adoption and permanence stories! Children, whether born, placed, adopted, will have difficulties, they will have missteps. We must help them to become productive members of society. Not all foster children have been diagnosed with mental illness, just as not all biological children have mental illness, but some do. An adopted child may not look like you, but your biological child may not look like you, either, ”Grooms said.
There is no “one size fits all” with children and families, she said.
“Every child and every family is unique and parenthood presents many challenges, no matter how your children come to you. I’m just asking you to consider foster care and adoption and ask for information to see if this might be the right path for you and your family, ”Grooms said.