“When we were children we had dreams and aspirations, we had parents to help us achieve those dreams and aspirations, many of the children we see don’t have that,” said DHR Director Doug Heath.
Heath explained that Alabama has been making strides with the number of foster care and adoptive families, but there’s always need for more. Currently nearly 200 children in Calhoun County are in foster care and at least twelve need adoptive parents.
“It’s important for people in the community to take an active role in children’s lives,” Heath said.
Although the meeting had been publicized as a question-and-answer session, no questions were posed by anyone attending.
For Regina Lee, being an adoptive parent was something she has always known she wanted to do. Lee was adopted into a large family and wanted to help children the same way her family helped her.
“Someone took me in and I don’t know where I would be without them,” Lee said.
Lee and her husband have been foster parents for twelve years. They’ve adopted five children, most recently a little girl.
Lee explained that many of the families who foster children usually end up adopting them.
“You fall in love with them and you can’t give them back,” Lee said.
She noted how hurt she was when a family wanted a child back after she had fostered him during a period of drug withdrawal.
“These children keep me going, they’re always smiling and loving,” Lee said.
Not all parents adopt every child they foster though. Kathleen Massey has an open door for children in need of help, even if it’s just for one night. Massey has been a foster parent for seven years and has fostered 63 children. Massey attributes the need for more foster families to the Alabama law stating any child born with drugs in their system will be immediately placed into foster care. At her busiest, Massey has fostered six children, while caring for her four biological children.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding … To see the changes when the children come into your home. You know it’s just that stability and love and discipline that maybe they don’t get anywhere else,” Massey said.
After being married for forty years and not having any children of their own, Charles and Pauline Wright decided adoption was the best way for them to fulfill their wish of having a family.
“We’re living our dream … This has been the most rewarding time of our lives,” Charles said.
The Wrights adopted a baby girl two years ago and are now the proud foster parents of two boys, one of whom was placed in their care when he was only two days old.
The only challenge Pauline could list when it comes to adopting a child was waiting to legally make the child their own. It can take up to eighteen months to go through the proper court channels and allow the biological parent to decide if they want to terminate their parental rights.
DHR hopes to keep the community informed on how to become a foster or adoptive parent so that every child in Calhoun County will have a forever home.
“No one knows about adoption unless it’s in the public forum, it’s important what we do here tonight, what’s done locally and nationally to recognize the need for adoptive homes,” said Charline Crutchfield, the DHR program supervisor for foster care, family preservation and resources.
Staff Writer Rachael Griffin: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RGriffin_Star.