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Helpful organizations and programs exist to support families throughout the whole adoption experience

Seventy children were adopted on November 22 when Connecticut celebrated Adoption Day in Juvenile Courts across the state. (See related links below to media coverage of the adoptions from throughout Connecticut.)

Every adoption is special -- as is every child. But one adoption by a maternal aunt from Cromwell drew particular attention because Emma, her one-year-old niece, was so excitedly received as part of the expanded family by her now-big brothers – Gabriel, 12, Miguel, 8, and Jordan, 6. Alyssa Luna, the maternal aunt, never let her family responsibilities to her own boys stop her from taking in Emma as an infant. Nor was she deterred by the fact that she had just started a new job at a local hospital AND was a full-time nursing student at Goodwin College! When the Department called her to see if she would consider providing a home for her sister’s newborn, Emma just said, “Sure.”

Now Emma is a permanent part of the family along with Alyssa and her three handsome and proud boys!

Alyssa is far from being alone as a relative stepping in to fill the gap of a family member who is unable to care for his or her child.

While hundreds of children are adopted each year in Connecticut, it is not widely recognized that family members can and do adopt related children who have been placed into foster care. Of the 532 adoptions that were completed in State Fiscal Year 2019, about 30 percent were adoptions by relatives. Another 340 children in state care achieved permanency through subsidized guardianship – bringing the total number of children in state care to achieve permanency to 872 during that period.

Department Commissioner Vannessa Dorantes said important improvements in using relatives to provide foster homes for children have taken place in Connecticut, and now the time is right to build on that success by increasing relative adoptions and providing greater permanency to children in care.

“Children deserve and benefit from the continuity that kinship provides, and they also deserve permanency that will serve as a mooring for them as they grow into adulthood.” Commissioner Dorantes said.  “So this year, we are making relative adoption the focus of our month-long celebration of National Adoption Month and Connecticut Adoption Day.”

Over the last several years, the Department has expanded the use of kinship families – those that are either related to the child or otherwise know the child, such as a coach, teacher, neighbor or friend of the family. The use of these kinship families has more than double since 2011 and now there are roughly as many children in a kinship home as in a traditional, non-relative foster home.

“If we have to remove a child from home, we reduce the trauma that results if we can have the child live with someone they already know and love,” Commissioner Dorantes said. “Those same wonderful kinship families can provide the permanency every child needs through adoption, and we need to highlight those opportunities.”

A critically important factor that supports relatives and ALL adoptive parents is the network of organizations and programs available to help the families – the adoptive parents and the children – get through inevitable challenges and continue to thrive. Below are some of these organizations and programs and how to access them.