SIDNEY — The month of November is National Adoption Awareness Month and it is a time to recognize the importance of adoption in the lives of parents and children, said Judge Jeff Beigel of the Shelby County Probate & Juvenile Court.
The local court oversees an average of 27 adoptions yearly. Adoptions come in all shapes and sizes. Some involve an abused, neglected or dependent child. Some involve a relative or step-parent 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 2021, the court heard 28 petitions for adoption. Adoption permanently terminates a natural parent’s rights and the adoptive parent then permanently becomes the parent of the child.
Approximately 28 children are currently in foster placement through Shelby County Children Services. The court said Shelby County is fortunate to have a good foster care system. Foster-to-adopt parents, Children Services, and the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) all play a vital role in the process.
Ashley Sherry, of Shelby County Children Services, explained “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 2,600 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 remarked “we find so much joy in seeing a child adopted. 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.”
“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, contact Betsy Kimber, Foster Care Coordinator, at 937-498-4981 ext. 2843.