Near-record number of adoptions is a positive indicator

Friday, January 26, 2018

Ideally, every child would be born into a stable home, with two loving parents able to provide the emotional and material support needed to grow into a mature, successful adult.

In reality, even the best of homes fall short in some ways, and in extreme cases, there is no choice but for the state to intervene.

In most cases, biological parents, judges, attorneys, guardians ad litem, foster parents, adoptive parents and service providers all work to reunite children with their families.

In others, adoption is the best choice.

As dedicated as state workers are, they are the first to admit, the “system” is a poor substitute for a forever home.

Thus the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is justifiably proud that the state hit a near-record 538 adoptions finalized last year, exceeded only by 572 in 2008.

The number has averaged 532 in recent years, up from about half that in 1995-2005. While it is unfortunate so many children need to go through the adoption process, the fact that so many have found permanent homes is a positive.

One hundred and fifty of 2017 adoptions were finalized on Nov. 18, Adoption Day, with special celebrations, often including family members when the goal of reunification has been achieved.

Other cases include “kinship,” where the child has a significant relationship with the individual, such as a neighbor, teacher or foster home, prior to the placement.

All prospective families complete background checks, including Child Central Registry, Adult Central Registry, sex offender, state patrol and FBI checks. A home study is completed to determine whether the lacement is appropriate, safe, and meets the needs of the child. A walk through of the home is also completed prior to placement.

“Permanency, our primary goal, includes reunification, adoption, guardianship or independent living,” said Nanette Simmons, Administrator of the Division of Children and Family Services.

“It means collaborating with biological parents, judges, attorneys, guardians ad litem, foster parents, adoptive parents and service providers, to ensure the placement is in the best interests of the child.”

It's also work that wouldn’t happen without the efforts of DHHS’s permanency teams throughout the state. The groups carefully evaluate the fit for children and their prospective families.

“We have a lot of great workers here (at the department),” Simmons said, adding that the adoptive and foster families who take in the children are also invaluable.

Adopted children range in age from one to 18 years old, and the length of time in the system varies from months to years.

Perhaps there’s room in your heart for a new member in your family. Call 1-800-7PARENT (1-800-772-7368) for more information.

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