SIDNEY — Judge Jeff Beigel of the Shelby County Probate Court is promoting November as National Adoption Awareness Month and is reminding Shelby County residents that it’s a time to recognize the importance of adoption in the lives of parents and children.
The local court oversees an average of 31 adoptions yearly. Adoptions, said Beigel, come in all shapes and sizes. Some involve an abused, neglected or dependent child. Some involve a relative or stepparent making a commitment to a child’s life. In other cases the natural parents have bravely decided that adoption is best for a child. The common denominator in all of these adoptions is love.
In 2017, the court heard 29 petitions for adoption. Of the adoptions granted, 13 were stepparent adoptions, seven were private adoptions, four were grandparent and relative adoptions, three were children who were in the permanent custody of Children Services, and one was the adoption of an adult. Adoption permanently terminates a natural parent’s rights and the adoptive parent then permanently becomes the parent of the child.
About 24 children are currently in foster placement through Shelby County Children Services, said Beigel.
“Shelby County is fortunate to have a good foster care system,” said Beigel. “Foster-to-adopt parents, Children Services, and the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) all play a vital role in the process.”
Foster parents Adam and Kristy Batchelder, of Anna, Ohio, recently finalized their adoption of a child in need and could not have been more enthusiastic about their decision.
“The family is a modern miracle; it is a seed of love which has the potential to blossom into generations of happiness,” said the Batchelders. “Through the power of adoption this love is magnified. This was our experience, our family abounded in love, our children are our joy, we never would have imagined that we would cross the bridge of adoption.
“Through an unexpected journey a happy little boy found his way into our hearts, our family expanded, and love was magnified. He needed a family and, although we did not know it at first, our family needed him. Through adoption we discovered that the miracle of the family has no limits. He has blessed our lives in unimaginable ways and we strive to do the same for him,” they said.
A Shelby County Children Services spokesperson said “adoption is not the call to have the perfect, rosy family. It is the call to give love, mercy, and patience. Every child deserves a permanent home where they can be loved, cared for and kept safe. In Ohio, there are approximately 3,500 children waiting to be adopted. These children need a family to consider their own and create stability and structure in their lives. Many children within the foster care system will not return to their biological family and this is where prospective families can help. Becoming an adoptive parent is an opportunity to change the lives of children in need. Working with the agency adoption staff is a great way to start the process of adoption. All prospective adoptive parents must have a home study completed, which includes information gathering, training, criminal background checks and more. This process can take up to six months to complete. Adoptive parents can be married, single, widowed or divorced, a home owner or renter, with or without children of their own, and have an income to meet household needs – whether employed or not. Adoptive parents must be committed to caring for children as a positive role model.”
Bridget Davis, director of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program for abused and neglected children, also shared her views on adoption.
“We find so much joy in seeing a child adopted,” said Davis. “The adoption hearing comes after a long process through our courts to reunify the child(ren) with their birth parents. When reunifying is unsuccessful with the birth parents the next step is adoption for the child into a non-relative home.
“We are fortunate to work closely with Shelby County Children Services during the ‘matching’ process of adoption where our opinion is heard on what family would be the best fit for the child. It is such a blessing to see the child adopted into a loving family. Moments like these are what make being a CASA worth it,” she said.
“There is a great need for loving adoptive parents and no shortage of agencies and services to help. The most joyous event in our Court is the adoption of a child in need. We want to celebrate those who have adopted and encourage those thinking about adoption to take the first steps in the process,” said Beigel.
One of the best resources available for those considering adoption is the Ohio Adoption Guide available at http://www.odjfs.state.oh.us. Shelby County Children Services is always in need of foster to adopt families. For inquiries, please contact Ashley Sherry at 937-498-4981 ext. 2839.