Adoption offers the opportunity to celebrate families and yet it is only one way to secure permanence for children.
This year's National Adoption Month theme is "Engage Youth: Listen and Learn." For many years, CT DCF has provided youth in foster care the opportunity to tell us how to improve services through our statewide youth advisory boards. No single lesson is more important than knowing that children thrive best when in a permanent family to support, guide and love them consistently.
We know that adoptions are one form of legal permanence. The journey to get to adoption is often bittersweet as it begins with parents in some sort of crisis.
This month’s Spotlight gives us a glimpse into the families who stepped forward along a sometimes-bumpy road to open their hearts and homes to children in need.
You will read about blended families who always had room for ‘one more’; kinship adoption with paternal family members; and the ultimate ‘village’ to a family composed of support from literally around the world!
I beamed with pride as our social workers were shown appreciation from the court, parents and children for their dedicated work culminated on CT Adoption Day. That appreciation was also extended to our provider partners who work alongside us with families.
Well, gratitude for partnership goes both ways.
Adoption Day is sometimes the 'feel-good' day of the year in court because there are children dressed up, balloons, cupcakes and media interviews of nervous parents about the final step in what is typically a lengthy, emotionally draining process.
2020 is anything but typical.
This year, on Nov 20th, with the pandemic threatening any shred of normalcy, remarkable efforts were put forth by the juvenile court judges and court personnel in the 7 courthouses across Connecticut, that hosted virtual adoption hearings for over 20 children and their forever families.
This Spotlight highlights not only the preparation by Judicial to pull this day off without a hitch but also the representation from the other two branches of CT government. Along with members of the CT DCF Executive Team, Lt Gov Susan Bysiewicz 'travelled' around the state, remotely logging-in to proceedings as did a few legislators from CT’s General Assembly to witness the final legalization of the adoptions.
As we reflect, we need to remember and also celebrate the other ways permanency is secured for children. While we can be proud to have finalized 663 adoptions last year, let's also celebrate the 782 reunifications that took place during that same period.
Children in foster care are supported by DCF, therapeutic provider agencies, foster care collaboratives and the CT Alliance of Foster and Adoptive Families — celebrating 25yrs if service this year.
UCONN’s Adoption Assistance Program is also an invaluable resource partner. https://health.uconn.edu/adoption-assistance
Did you know that about 60 percent of children who are removed are reunited with their parents? Or that over 43% of children in CT’s care currently are placed with relatives/kin or someone they know.
Also not widely known, is more than 90 percent of children served by CT DCF remain safely at home.
All these forms of permanency - keeping families intact, reunification, transfer of guardianship - as well as adoption should be done timely with the child’s well-being at the center of decisions.
CTDCF respects and honors family constellations of all types, races and configurations. The safety and stability of children takes all of us, in partnership, committed towards strengthening families.