Most of us don’t know the feeling of being parentless – living with the gut-wrenching uncertainty if anyone will ever adopt us. But there are plenty of children in our community that only know that feeling, unfortunately. And while there are amazing organizations such as KidsPeace, which typically do a great job of match parentless children with loving moms and dads, 2020 turned out to be a tough year for just about everyone. When jobs are lost and money is tight, adoption rates go down. At the same time, the demand for foster care is high. It’s a problem that won’t take care of itself, without the help of caring organizations and individuals.
Even when times are tough, most people have the ability to share. It’s a two-way street too. Parents have the resources that children require, while children have the love that fills the hearts and souls of their elder guardians and protectors.
Quite often, people think of adoption scenarios between children and childless parents. Obviously, that is a given. But there are also established families out there that have the desire to adopt additional children. Take the Hodges family for example – Rita and her husband Warren always dreamed of having a large family, and had plans to, one day, adopt.
“We had six children during the first seven years of our marriage – one single birth, then twins, then triplets,” explained Rita (lead image). “That put our fostering and adoption plans on hold. Once the kids were all teenagers, we decided that we could move forward with fostering and adopting. We preferred groups of brothers and sisters. We realize that not all families have someone who can intervene to look after a child or children. We wanted to make sure that the siblings were able to stay together.”
When Rita and Warren made up their minds that it was time to adopt, they turned to KidsPeace. Incredibly, the parents also set out looking for children that were considered “hard to place.” They wanted to give “give kids a second chance,” or a first chance for that matter. “We built our own team – one son, one daughter, one sister, one sibling, one family member at a time… we are Team Hodges!”
Now, of course this is an unusual scenario because not all families will ever reach this size. Ultimately, what this picture demonstrates is that there is always someone waiting in the wings who is the ideal match for an orphaned child. It all comes down to the match-making process. In the case of the Hodges, their altruistic belief was that they could offer a safe, loving, and supportive environment to those who need it most. “There is nothing like this moment when, as foster parents, we realize that a child feels safe and loved.”
“There are about half a million foster children across the country,” said Mark P. Lazzara, who is helping to get the word out about KidsPeace. “The demand for foster parents and adoptions has risen significantly. Factors like opioid dependency are forcing more children from their homes. Over 20,000 youngsters are leaving the system. Often, young people are forced to leave the system without finding a permanent family, which forces them to take care of themselves. This season’s recruitment campaign focuses on Buffalo’s obsession with sports. The message is, ‘Step off the sideline and get in the game! Every kid needs to be part of a team, how about yours?’”
KidsPeace is working with a wide variety of children, some that simply need parent figures in their lives, while others require additional medical and emotional needs. Once again, depending on the parent/s desires and resources, the directive at KidsPeace is to find the best matches for everyone at the table.
For the 2021 Martin Luther King Day, KidsPeace of Western NY Foster Care is promoting a virtual team-based recruiting campaign, which will kick off on MLK Day, starting January 18. KidsPeace in Western New York has organized individual and group meetings for people interested in joining their Foster Care team. For more information, contact KidsPeace Foster Care at 716-634-1058 or Kathleen.firstname.lastname@example.org. The group call will be at 6:00pm on January 18, 2020.