What: Introduction to foster adoption process
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22
Where: Child Welfare Office, 500A Jefferson Blvd., in West Sacramento.
Info: 530-574-1964 or www.yolofoster.com
By Cherie Schroeder
National Adoption Month is an opportunity to bring the topic of adoption to the forefront and a chance to learn more about the kids who come into foster care and the families willing to open their homes and hearts to nurture and support them.
Yolo County has just over 200 children in foster care; 32 of those have a case plan of adoption. Many times, adoptive families are a relative or the foster family who welcomed the children to their home 12 to 18 months earlier. This past year, 38 children were adopted in Yolo County from foster care.
For a child, adoption means they will have a chance to reach their full potential by being offered love, hope, protection and stability with a permanent family.
In Davis, there are 28 licensed foster homes. Many will not only foster a child but will go on to adopt a child who is placed in their care. Caregivers spend more than 30 hours in class prior to “placement readiness,” gaining a foundational understanding of child welfare, the juvenile justice system, working with birth families, learning of available community services and learning what is meant by respectful and defensive parenting.
Along with classes, introductions are made to others who have walked a similar path and to professionals available for support and guidance.
Ben and Luisa Nye of Davis are an example of a local family who adopted from foster care this past year.
Just three years ago, Ben Nye answered a call that went out seeking a family for a young sibling set. After getting basic information, he said “yes” and, a few hours later, the family met Tina and Zechariah, just 17 and 2 months old, for the first time. Initially, the goal of placement is always family reunification, and the Nyes where eager to support the efforts of the birth family for the children to return home.
Raising their own five children, ranging in age from 10 to 20, the Nyes felt confident about taking two little ones into their home. Quickly, they came to realize that raising someone else’s child, a hurt child, is different, and that training and support for foster parents is essential.
At a recent Yolo County Board of Supervisors meeting where they were honored and given the proclamation declaring November 2012 as National Adoption Awareness Month, Ben Nye shared his gratitude to many within the community who have supported their family on their foster-to-adoption journey.
“Yolo County has built an extraordinary partnership of support, including the Board of Supervisors, Woodland Community College, First 5 Yolo, Child Care Resource and Referral, CommuniCare, Yocha Dehe Community Fund, Children’s Alliance, EMQ Crisis Nursery and Woodland Target — something to be proud of,” he said.
Nye explained how funding from First 5 Yolo and Yocha Dehe allows a Target shopping trip at the time of initial placement along with a mentor for essential items, which sets a positive tone for each child who comes into foster care.
“Just imagine, many kids for the first time getting to choose new clothes, a toy, school supplies and a pair of shoes that fit,” he said.
There is a strong network among the 86 licensed Yolo County foster families who use technology to share and obtain supplies, equipment and clothes.
“Within hours of that call coming in, we had everything needed for the babies; it was amazing,” he said. “As questions arose, we knew whom to call and where to go.”
The case for adoption
For the 107,000 children who are available for adoption in the United States foster care system, there are two very different paths — adoption into a permanent family, or to languish in foster care and age out of the system. Youths who do not find permanency leave foster care by age 21, most times without the care and support of a permanent, loving family.
Thousands of children enter foster care through no fault of their own, most often as victims of abuse, neglect or abandonment, and are subsequently permanently removed from their homes because their birth family is unable or unwilling to provide a safe environment for them.
Despite policy advancement for youths in the child welfare system, the number of older teens aging out of foster care continues to rise. In 1998, approximately 17,300 youths emancipated from foster care. Last year, nearly 28,000 youths in foster care aged out, leaving them without families of their own. These youths experience staggeringly higher rates of incarceration, homelessness, unintended pregnancy and truncated educations.
In addition to giving a permanent, supportive and loving family, adoption saves money, research shows. Multiple studies have found that adoption represents a cost savings to taxpayers, with one indicating that each dollar spent on the adoption of a child from the U.S. foster care system yields three dollars in benefits to society.
An introduction for those interested in learning more about adoption from foster care is being offered at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, at the Child Welfare Office, 500A Jefferson Blvd., in West Sacramento.
For more information, contact foster care coordinator Cherie Schroeder at 530-574-1964 or visit www.yolofostercare.com.