First Posted: 10/30/2009
Tomorrow marks the beginning of National Adoption month, a time when agencies around the nation will focus their attention on the adoption of youth from foster care.
According to Patricia Coe with the Department of Social Services, there are usually 50 children in foster care in Surry County at any given time.
And we dont have a huge number of foster parents, noted Coe.
In fact, many of the youth are placed with relatives. But Coe said many foster children are eventually adopted.
Coe said, Foster parents tend to adopt. We are blessed.
Jennifer and Patrick Faw adopted their son after he was in foster care for six months. Now more than six years later, Jennifer thinks it was one of the best decisions they ever made.
Its been absolutely wonderful. Hes just a special child. Hes opened our hearts to a lot of different things, Jennifer gushed.
Jennifer explained why they originally decided to become foster parents: There were so many kids that were mistreated. We thought this was a way we could help.
While some foster parents want to adopt their foster children and get to do just that, Jennifer explained that this is not always the case. Complications sometimes arise.
Sometimes you can adopt, but for the most part, youre providing a safe home for these children, she explained.
The happy mom encourages others to adopt or become foster parents. She said, Its a blessing. It would change their life in a positive way.
For people interested in becoming foster parents, Coe suggests they attend a Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP) class. MAPP is a 10-week, 30-hour course that people must take before becoming foster parents. The class is offered twice a year. DSS can also provide information packets to people interested.
In addition to the MAPP course, DSS also requires criminal record checks, physicals, and home and finance studies on all prospective foster parents.
And we like to see where a child would be a good fit, Coe added.
For people who cant adopt or become foster parents, Coe suggests volunteering for organizations like Stop Child Abuse Now, Surry County Foster Parent Association, or Childrens Center of Surry.
Jennifer Faw is the treasurer of the Surry County Foster Parent Association. She said, Its a way that I can stay involved with the foster parents.
Surry County Foster Parent Association is a 501(c)3 nonprofit group that works to support foster children and foster families in the county. All foster parents and child advocacy workers can join the association.
The association will be especially busy during National Adoption Month. This is the time that the organization collects funds for its holiday efforts.
Each year the association gathers Christmas donations, all of which goes to children in Surry County. With the donations, the association provides gifts to all kids in Surry Foster Care. Jane Humphries, president of the foster parent association, said they usually split up the gifts so that have are clothes and half are toys.
The foster children each get three wishes, and Humphries said they try to fulfill these wishes if reasonable. Some businesses sponsor children or hold toy drives to help with the Christmas project.
Were not picky, Humphries said about how people give.
The deadline for Christmas donations is Dec. 5, but the organization can use donations throughout the year as well. This year, the foster parent association is feeling the effect of the economy.
Donations are really down, Humphries remarked. But I think everybodys is down.
Still, Humphries believes it is important for people to support their organization, because she said 100 percent of the donations that come in go to the kids.
We think the community will benefit from helping these kids. These are not the kids that have everything, Humphries said.
In fact, many children that enter foster care only have the clothes on their back. The Surry Foster Parent Association tries to put together bags with the essentials for children that enter foster care.
A lot of times kids come with nothing, Jennifer noted.
The association members also work on other projects throughout the year to help the kids and lessen the burden on foster parents. They have a back-to-school project where they put together backpacks with supplies for the foster kids. They also try to pay for an activity such as sports or dance camp for each kid each year.
But Humphries said the organizations main role is support. Every need they have, not just financial, she said.
Children that are placed in foster homes come from bad situations. Coe said, There is always some trauma involved.
The association provides emotional support for foster parents and children. Jennifer said often children are put back into bad situations, which is very difficult on the people who were their foster parents.
When they go back and forth its very difficult … They need that extra support, Jennifer stressed.
In the end, Jennifer believes that everyone in Surry County needs to be an advocate for children. She believes people need to stand up against the laws that often force children to be placed back into bad situations.
Jennifer said, We have got to protect these children. That should be our number one goal in the community.
For those interested in donating for the Christmas project of the Surry County Foster Parent Association, donations may be mailed to P.O. Box 57, Toast, NC, 27049, or people can call Humphries at 320-3288.
For more information on how to adopt or become a foster parent, call the Surry County Department of Social Services at 401-8700.
Contact Meghann Evans at [email protected] or 719-1952.