Thanksgiving no holiday for foster children

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 3, 2005

Thanksgiving is a holiday closely associated with family. The days before Thanksgiving are often some of the busiest for the nation's highways and airports, as people head home to be with loved ones.

As the song says, &#8220There's no place like home for the holidays.”

Some of the state's children won't be able to experience that kind of traditional holiday.

They are among the 6,000 children in the state who are part of the foster care system. Of that number, 600 are legally available for permanent homes and adoption.

It's a statistic Frieda Stevens and the Crenshaw County Department of Human Resources would love to change.

&#8220Loving, caring families are a concept that can be taken for granted. It's a luxury the 260 Alabama foster children awaiting adoption don't have,” Stevens, director of the county DHR, said.

November has been set aside as Adoption Awareness Month to highlight the need for permanent homes for these children.

More than 50 percent of those in need of a &#8220forever” home are male and of African-American heritage, and more than 60 percent are over the age of ten. Some have physical disabilities, while others are emotionally or mentally challenged.

Teresa Sanders, Crenshaw County DHR child welfare supervisor, said there are many misconceptions about adoption.

&#8220People often think a prospective adoptive parent has to be rich or must have a certain kind of job. That is not true,” Sanders said.

Sanders said applicants do have to show an ability to financially support a child, and must be willing to share their home and their life with a child, or children, in need of a forever home.

Another misconception exists about adoption-related expenses.

&#8220There is no fee charged by the department for adoption services provided by DHR,” Sanders explained.

Applicants pay for their physical examinations, criminal record checks and the filing of court documents. In certain instances, reimbursement for non-recurring expenses (like legal fees) can be obtained up to a specific amount.

As they plan to enjoy turkey and all the trimmings with their families this holiday season, Stevens encourages Crenshaw County residents to consider &#8220growing their families” through adoption.

&#8220People shouldn't hesitate because of the false notion that one must be ‘perfect' in order to adopt a child. As the slogan says, ‘You don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent,'” Sanders said.

For more information on foster parenting and adoption opportunities, contact the Crenshaw County DHR at 335-7000.