In a year that has devastated our families and economies, the vulnerable paid a heavy price. For many of us finding a way to combat the virus was “the” concern in 2020, a circle-the-wagons kind of response.
Yet there were many of you, our readers, who also helped bring light to hundreds of Minnesota children who lacked family connections and a place where they could belong. You cut through the fear and replaced it with hope.
Just more than one year ago, Adams Publishing Group of East Central Minnesota, as well as our sister papers in northern and southern Minnesota, developed a relationship with MN ADOPT, an organization dedicated to helping families who adopt Minnesota’s waiting children by providing online resources and referrals to therapeutic and crisis services, support groups, adoption information and comprehensive training opportunities.
For the last four decades, MN ADOPT has been contracted by the Department of Human Services to help find homes for many of the kids in waiting.
And this is where you have made a difference in the lives of these children.
During the past year, we started featuring a monthly profile of kids waiting to be adopted. Those profiles gave a brief outline of the kids, what they liked, and what they were hoping for in an adoptive situation. While there is always a need for foster and adoptive parents, this past year, despite the pandemic, several children did find homes.
The number of children who needed adoptive homes went from 905 in September of 2019 to 733 in September of 2020. According to MN ADOPT, part of that success was due to readers who responded to the request for help.
In August of this past year, there were 1,594 children under state guardianship, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Roughly 733 were in immediate need of adoptive families. The other 861 were in pre-adoptive families, usually with relatives or foster parents who planned to adopt them.
To be clear, this is not a Hallmark or Lifetime movie scenario. Adopting any child takes work and effort. Adopting kids who have been under the guardianship of the state typically means these are children who have experienced trauma during their critical development years. Many will need additional help with education, medical care and interaction with others. Mostly they need the love of a family.
According to Rachel Walstad, executive director of MN ADOPT, 2020 certainly was trying for everyone, but many families have stepped forward to help these kids. “Fortunately, the pandemic has not led to a decrease in the number of families interested in fostering and adopting. We have seen an increase in both adoptive and foster family interest since the beginning of the pandemic. Most notably, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of families who are interested in learning about becoming foster parents.”
Walstad said although MN ADOPT has had to do much more of its work in 2020 through phone and email because of the pandemic, it has managed to adjust.
“This has made our online and print efforts even more important, with the statewide newspaper features becoming a key tool in helping us raise awareness,” Walstad said.
To those of you who have responded to kids who have been longing for that place and family they can finally call home, your involvement has a made a lasting difference. Every child who has received that love learned the best lesson life has to offer: every person matters and every person can make a difference.
In 2020 we featured Ali, Dean, Genesis, Sean, Makayla, Aiden, Zachary, Adrian, Timmy, Danzell and Jonathan in our papers across Minnesota.
In 2021 there will be more kids seeking families to welcome them home. To all of you who have reached out with some form of support for these kids, you have changed lives. And for all of you still considering a way to help these children, you carry the candles that will lead these children to a better life.
If you would like more information on adopting or fostering a Minnesota waiting child, please e-mail email@example.com or call 612-861-7115.
Keith Anderson is director of news for APG of East Central Minnesota