BATON ROUGE – More Louisiana families took in multiple foster children or siblings, and more adopted their kin, leading to another record-setting year for adoptions from foster care.
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) marked National Adoption Month with its 19th Annual Adoption Reception on Thursday, honoring the 533 families who adopted 771 foster children between Oct. 1, 2016, and Sept. 30, 2017 - the most in one year to-date.
"We are thrilled to see so many families not only opening their hearts and homes to our children, but keeping siblings together so they can grow and thrive with each other," said First Lady Donna Edwards, who welcomed adoptive families to the event at the Governor's Mansion.
"Finding a forever home where a loving family will provide a safe and nurturing environment is life-changing for a child, and we are so thankful to all of the adoptive families for helping us to build a stronger Louisiana for our children."
Nearly a third of all families who adopted foster children this past year - 166 of 533 families - adopted more than one child, with some families adopting sibling groups and others adopting children who were unrelated. That number is up from FFY 2016, when 137 of 532 adoptive families took in two or more children.
"We have really focused on finding families for those children who traditionally have been harder to place - sibling groups, teens and children with special needs - and I couldn't be more thankful for the families who have stepped up to provide these children the love and permanency they deserve," said DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters.
At the reception, Secretary Walters presented several awards honoring DCFS partners as an Individual Adoption Advocate, a Community Advocate and a Media Advocate.
The Individual Adoption Advocate Award was presented to adoptive parents Joel and Heather Heaney, for their steadfast partnership with Monroe Region DCFS in providing clothes and gift cards for foster children and funds for school supplies, rent and other necessities for those who aged out of the system.
FAMily (Foster and Adoptive Ministry) of Trinity Baptist Church of Lake Charles, under the leadership of Kelly Berryhill, received the Community Advocate Award, for the ministry's tireless efforts to match children with their forever homes by hosting annual foster/adoptive family events and by creating a traveling Heart Gallery to showcase children who need homes.
The Media Advocate Award was presented to KTBS 3 in Shreveport, for helping to locate adoptive families through its "ArkLaTex Angels" segment, which for 17 years has featured local children available for adoption, and through its "Home for the Holidays" Christmas Special, which has brought back all the children featured each year since 2008.
On any given day, DCFS is seeking adoptive homes for about 140 children throughout Louisiana. The department participates in year-round recruiting efforts for foster and adoptive parents by holding orientation meetings each month across the state.
For more information about adopting a foster child, please visit www.dcfs.la.gov/adopt. To find out more about the children available for adoption, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/adoptuskids.
To learn more about fostering a child, or about supporting families who foster, please visit www.LouisianaFosters.la.gov.