November is National Adoption Month, which brings attention to the vital need for adoptive families for children in foster care and acknowledges the role social workers play in adoptions.
Children enter foster care when the court finds they are unsafe, abused or neglected.
Foster families take care of the children while Social Services works with their birth families to rectify the reasons for the separation with the goal of reuniting children with their birth families. When that's not possible, the most secure option for permanency for the children is adoption.
“Our children are just looking for stability and a place to call home,” said Renee Pettigrew, adoptions team supervisor at the Forsyth County Department of Social Services (DSS).
There were 27 adoptions this year, and 165 adoptions over the last five years, of children who were in DSS custody.
DSS currently has 229 children in foster care, 41 of whom a court has identified adoption as the most appropriate plan for them. For 29 of those children, the legal rights of the biological parents have been terminated or relinquished, and they’re legally free for adoption.
DSS is always in need of foster-adopt resource parents. After a process that includes a background check, training classes, and home assessments, foster-adopt parents care for children in DSS custody. In most cases, the children will return home to their birth families once it’s safe to do so. If that’s not possible, then their foster families are considered as a possible forever home for those children.
“We have some really great kids that need a forever family, a permanent home, “ said Permanency Plan Program Manager Sherita Cain. “They really just need someone to not give up on them. They’ve had so many losses, they really just want one person, one family to say ‘No matter what happens, no matter what you do, I’m not leaving you.’”
Through partnerships with their internal foster families and foster families connected with community agencies, the Adoptions team at DSS makes these adoptions possible. They look for permanent adoptive homes for the children and do the paperwork for adoption.
They also do the legal paperwork for children not in DSS custody, including step-parent and relative adoptions, private adoptions, and adoptions for children in other counties and states. They also link families to post-adoptive services. They work with organizations like Crossnore School and Children’s Home, Children’s Home Society, Children's Hope Alliance, Seven Homes, and other DSS agencies.
National Adoption Day will be Saturday, Nov. 22, and DSS will be hosting an adoption awareness event at 6 p.m. Former adoptive parents and current foster parents are invited to come and bring friends who are interested in becoming a foster-adopt resource parent for a dinner where community partners will speak on the importance of adoption. Those interested in attending can contact Foster Care Recruiter Sharon Porter at 336-703-3677.
Interest meetings for prospective foster-adopt resource parents are held on the first and third Thursday of each month at DSS, 741 Highland Ave, from 6-7 p.m. For more information, contact Sharon Porter at 336-703-3677.
PICTURED: Forsyth County Department of Social Services’ adoption staff (left to right) Trish Ward, Gloria Greenbaum, Renee Pettigrew, Torrie Smith, and Sherita Cain