The month of November has been designated Adoption Awareness month. This is a very personal topic for myself and my family.

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By Maritza Guridy, Deputy Director of Parent Voice and Outreach

My husband and I decided almost 10 years ago to open up our home and hearts to care for children that are in need of a place where they are cared for and loved. A place in which the child or children’s needs are met.

The word adoption is one that many associate with legally getting an infant to be a part of their family. Infants are not the only age group in which a person/family should consider taking a child or a sibling group into their home. There are 2 ways in which this can happen.

A private adoption is when a person or a couple acquire an attorney and adopt a child/children privately. The other way is having a child/children placed in your home via the foster care system. We chose the latter.

Adoption is not an easy path by any means. Once it happens the parent/parents must be prepared to live and love a person that was chosen by them to be a permanent part of their family. With this comes the realization that these child/children were not raised with the customs, traditions, mannerisms, spiritual/religious beliefs, and cultural ways in which their family was brought up in.

There are thousands of children in this country that have been placed in the care of the state. Through no fault of their own, they have been separated from their parents. The reasons are many as to why this happens—from neglect, abuse, and death of a parent/parents. There are even times—although rare—when a parent/parents voluntarily give up custody of their child/children due to not being able to care for them.

There are many organizations that oversee the legal adoption of children in the United States. I’ll talk about SWAN (The Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network), the one I have personal experience with. This network works with the Department of Human Services (DHS), the PA Adoption Exchange, public and private adoption agencies, organizations, advocates, judges, the legal community, and foster/adoptive parents. All of these entities work together to provide the best care for children in need of a temporary home or permanent home.

The hope and desire of many is to be able to bring home a newborn infant. To be able to raise a child to be like them or the other children in their family. It is very rare that a child comes into the foster care system as a newborn. The child/children that are placed in care are many times toddlers, young children, sibling groups, and teenagers. They are all in need of care due to not only what they have experienced with their birth parents or family, but also to deal with the trauma of being separated from them as well.

These children did not choose to be placed in care. It is not their fault that they have been separated from their families. I think that if there are adults out there that are patient and understanding who are willing to allow other caring adults to come into their homes to monitor and check in on them to make sure children are ok, adoption is possible. Together so many more children can be helped.

Here are a few of my personal suggestions on ways to support children that are currently waiting to be adopted or are in the foster care system.

  • Find out if there is an adult in their corner that will continue to be supportive
  • Ensure that the family that the child/children are placed with have the space, desire, and empathy that the child/children need
  • Make sure that research is done to see if there are any blood “kin” relatives that the child/children know that are able to take them in as a Kinship home
  • Make sure that the child/children get all of the supportive services that they require and are entitled to receive
  • If you and/or your family are considering fostering or adopting a child in need, be ready for a social worker to visit your home. It’s not being done to be nosy. It’s being done to ensure that the child’s/children’s environment is a safe haven for them.
  • Get support for yourself as well. Don’t allow any setbacks to deter you from being that stable adult in the child’s/children’s lives.
  • Create and maintain your village. Have your support system.
  • For more information contact your local DHS (Department of Human Services) or whatever names are used in your community for Child Welfare. Also reach out to your states SWAN (Statewide Adoption Network).