MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - There’s nothing like family and for hundreds of kids, their adoptions - and dreams - were realized in 2018. It became a record-breaking year for the number of adoptions.
“These families have welcomed into their home a lot of children that have been part of our foster care system," said Gov. Kay Ivey. "These children have found their favorite homes and lasting homes.”
The last time Alabama hit the highest record of adoptions was in FY 2009, when 676 children found permanent homes.
State officials and organizations are proud of the recent milestone, but continued to encourage parents to foster and adopt children.
“Foster parents and adoptive parents are some of the most precious angels in my eyes,” said Nancy Buckner, the Department of Human Resources commissioner.
Michelle Bearman-Wolnek with Heart Gallery Alabama, said one reason for the increase of adoptions is because there is an emphasis in the department for children to find homes.
“The commissioner definitely stresses the importance to her staff that these children need to be in a permanent placement and they need it now,” Wolnek said.
The department said the increase in adoptions is also in part because there are more children in the state’s custody.
This increase in adoptions can be traced back to opioids and other drugs, according to the department and other organizations. Buckner said the department looks at whether a parent can effectively protect their child.
“Sometimes the drug issue causes them to do things that make them not able to protect their child as they should,” she said. “Then if there are no other family members to take that child and to care for that child, then the child often times has to enter foster care.”
The process to foster can be time consuming for some families. The commissioner said it does take a little while but should not be a lengthy process. Much of the time is consumed with training and families providing detailed information.
“Sometimes our children have had some life experiences that the rest of the children have never seen before,” Buckner said. “We want foster parents to be able to provide the needs they need because of those experiences they’ve had.”
Bearman-Wolnek said the large caseload caseworkers have can affect how efficiently they can do their job.
“I’ve always said the government shouldn’t be in charge of raising children,” she said. “And because of that we’re tasked to make that whole process go faster. There’s just so many children and these workers have too many kids in their care to really do their job as effectively."
However, Bearman-Wolnek said the state does a great job working with organizations to help the adoption and foster process run smoothly.
“Our state recognizes the need to partner with community organizations that can help them reach these goals and basically offer support to families who are in the adoption process,” Bearman-Wolnek said.
“A good child welfare system is made of partners,” Buckner said. “Partners working together for the betterment of those children’s lives.”