More loving, stable homes needed for state's foster kids

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The way Nebraska takes care of its troubled youth and those forced into the system through no fault of their own has been a target of criticism and review over the past few years.

The current focus in legislative hearings is how to best care for youths who "age out" of the current system.

While it's easy to find fault with any foster care system, the unfortunate truth is that anything other than a loving, stable family is second best.

Gov. Dave Heineman is acknowledging that with his proclamation of November as Adoption Awareness Month for the state of Nebraska.

"Many Nebraskans look forward to spending the upcoming holidays renewing traditions with their family," Heineman said. "Meanwhile, children across our state in foster care won't share these special days with a permanent, stable, loving family. I'm asking Nebraskans to consider adopting foster children, and I want to thank the parents who have opened their hearts and homes to the children who are in the child welfare system. Adoptive parents are making a positive impact every day in the lives of the most vulnerable children in our state."

In Nebraska this year, more than 200 foster children have been adopted, and another 130 are expected to be adopted in ceremonies during the coming weeks.

"We don't stand on the sidelines and watch," adoptive father Jack Taff said at a news conference announcing the proclamation.

Jack and his wife, Cathy, are an Omaha couple who have adopted two young men, served as guardians of another and as foster parents for several others. Their two sons, Lukas, 18, and Paul, 15, joined them at the announcement.

"My wife and I both like kids and we want to have an effect on young men's lives," Jack said. "We have adopted older boys because they need somewhere to go and they need permanency and stability."

The Taffs and other adoptive parents would probably be the first to tell anyone considering adoption that the process isn't a bed of roses. Parenthood is no easy task, however the children come into the family, and adoptive children, especially those coming out of the foster system, may have special challenges.

Prospective adoptive parents need to have realistic expectations and have a support system in place before the inevitable problems arise.

Taff said taking an active role is key as the children age.

"We tell them they can be successful and they can accomplish something. We try to explain where they're doing things right and wrong. Once one or two are headed in a positive direction, you add one more and they usually go the right direction, too. It takes patience and you need to be able to sit with them and talk to them.

"I would encourage others to consider adopting foster children," Taff said. "Take the chance and it will help you as much as you help them."

More information about the foster children available for adoption can be found on the DHHS website at: http://dhhs.ne.gov/AdoptionKids. Or, call 1-800-7-PARENT (1-800-772-7368).

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