Nearly 1,500 children statewide are awaiting adoption, according to a Nov. 9 presentation to the Anoka County Board, which is honoring November as Adoption Awareness Month.
On any given day, there are up to 424,000 children in the U.S. foster care system nationwide, Commissioner Jeff Reinert said. The number of children waiting to be placed into foster care is about 120,000, he said.
“These children simply want to find loving homes,” Reinert said.
In the past 12 years, 111 families adopted 165 children during Anoka County Adoption Days, an annual November celebration for families who are adopting children, Jess Van Kuyk, a manager in the Children and Family Services Department, said.
Adoption ceremonies throughout the pandemic have been via Zoom, Van Kuyk said. “But all the same, it’s a celebration, and people are happy to be there,” Van Kuyk said.
Jill Davis, a supervisor of the permanency unit in Children and Family Services, said the department has three core beliefs at the center of adoption.
“We believe that every child deserves a forever family, which includes being loved unconditionally,” Davis said. “We also believe no child is unadoptable. ... Another core belief is that every child with support will have permanency.”
Davis said the department makes every effort to create a lasting impact on the children’s lives.
Nearly 1,500 kids statewide are waiting for a family to adopt them. Of those kids, 56% are siblings who need to be adopted together, Davis said. About two-thirds of the children waiting have physical, mental or behavioral disabilities, she said.
In Anoka County she said 57 children are awaiting adoption; 48 of those kids live with families that will be adopting them, Davis said.
“Currently we have nine children who do not have an identified adoptive family,” Davis said. “And, if appropriate, we will utilize strategies to connect them to their forever families through recruitment.”
Since last year, there has been a decline in the number of adoptions in Anoka County. That could be due to the COVID-19 pandemic making the process more difficult, Davis said.
Families looking to adopt should be flexible and patient, as well as have a healthy support system for when they need assistance, Davis said.
“Most of all, having a strong sense of humor and the ability to have fun is extremely important when living with children, and really are keys to successful parenting,” Davis said. “Most importantly, we look for people with a strong level of commitment, so they truly will be a forever family.”
Families considering adoption can reach out to the county, go through MNAdopt (mnadopt.org) or visit the Department of Human Services website (mn.gov/dhs), Davis said.
“It’s not unusual for Anoka County foster parents to also become interested in adopting children in their care,” Davis said.
Commissioner Scott Schulte applauded the work of foster care and adoption employees.
“What you do is the intersection of really sad times for some people, and then absolutely exuberant times when families are found,” Schulte said. “Every child deserves love. There’s no question about that.”