Giving to Our Children

We are often asked this time of year about donations of gifts for the children in our care, particularly foster children and those awaiting adoption. It is always touching to me to see the generosity of our community, especially during the holidays.

The agency has again established a partnership with Toys for Tots this year that will result in a donation of a few thousand toys to be delivered in mid-December. The U.S. Marine Corps Reserves provide an incredible service to our community and our children and we are extremely grateful for their generosity.

Because the Toys for Tots donation will cover most of the younger children on the agency’s caseload, we are encouraging other who want to donate to consider gifts for the teens in agency care. Those gifts could include gift cards to Walmart, Target, Kroger, Visa, MasterCard; household items such as irons, ironing boards, sheets, towels, etc.; and personal items such as jewelry, cologne, perfume, wallets, money clips, and purses.

If you want to donate, or know someone who does, please contact Brian Gregg at greggb@jfs.hamilton-co.org.

Thank you for thinking about our children!

Adoption Day News Coverage

We received great coverage of our mass adoption ceremony! I am excited because getting the word out helps generate interest in the children we still have waiting for loving families. Take a look at some of these news clips:

http://www.fox19.com/category/240225/video-landing-page?clipId=7970698&autostart=true

http://www.local12.com/news/local/story/Hamilton-County-Celebrates-Adoption-Day-With-Mass/wsL5bCdvIkOwgamz0RlVVA.cspx

http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/news/local_news/from-abuse-and-neglect-to-love-13-children-find-new-families

http://www.wlwt.com/news/local-news/cincinnati/Local-families-adopt-new-members/-/13549970/17451564/-/qyif56/-/index.html

http://www.wlwt.com/news/local-news/cincinnati/Woman-adopts-teen-after-family-tragedy/-/13549970/17463394/-/12dqjcvz/-/index.html

 

Adoption Day: Emotional and Fulfilling

 

 

 

What an incredible day!

I was fortunate enough to participate in an event where 13 children joined seven families, forming bonds that will last for the rest of their lives. Our Mass Adoption Ceremony was an emotional event that left me fulfilled and even more committed to the children and families we serve.

Seeing the joy on the faces of both children and families brought smiles to everyone in Judge Cissell’s courtroom. Hearing their stories and how they felt about their new families left many with tears in their eyes.

All four Cincinnati television stations covered the event and will run stories tonight.  I thank them for that because I think it is important the community see this joyous event. I hope to post clips to the coverage here on my blog early next week.

You can also find out more about the event on our website, www.hcjfs.org.

If you are moved to adopt after watching the stories, please visit www.hckids.org for more information and to see pictures, videos and biographies of the 190 or so children we have available for adoption. After seeing what I saw today, I am eager to find a happy home for each and every one of them!

 

 

 

Making the Holidays a Littler Brighter

The holiday season can be a lonely time for those without family, including foster children. Thanksgiving dinners and holiday parties can be reminders of better times or simply family that is now missing. 

We try to do our best to help our children who may feel alone during these times.

Tomorrow, we will work with the Foster Care Alumni Association’s Ohio Chapter to host a Thanksgiving feast for our older foster youth and those who have aged out of our system.

These young people often don’t have the comfort of family and this provides the chance for fellowship and a good meal. The People’s Church in Clifton has graciously provided the space and Lisa Dickson of the Alumni Association has done a lot to make this happen. We expect more than 50 children to attend.

We also host a holiday party in December for our children who are awating adoption. Each child receives a gift, and there is food, music, games and other entertainment to make for an all around enjoyable evening. Their smiles are precious.

Xerox and the Coalition of Care help us with this event. We are grateful to all those in the community who help us make the holidays a little brighter for our children.

 

 

 

Miracles will Happen on Nov. 16

Below is the column I wrote for this month’s issue of Update, our community newsletter. It discusses our upcoming mass adoption ceremony, which is one of the most powerful and emotional days of the year here at JFS.

(You can find the column and much more news about our agency here: http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/UpdateNew2012/November/Cover.htm. Please, if you are interested in our agency and what we do, subscribe.)

It is rare that you can predict a miracle, but I know of several that will take place on Nov. 16.

That is the day we hold our mass adoption ceremony to celebrate National Adoption Month. Several families will welcome our foster children into their homes and lives permanently, forming loving families out of what was a foundation of abuse and neglect.

To me, that is a miracle.

I always circle this day on my calendar. To call it “inspirational” doesn’t do it service. This is life changing for these children.

I watched a 13-year-old boy break down in sobs last year as he tried to articulate what his adoptive family meant to him. The boy’s life had been tragic: his mother had died and, after he went to live with his grandfather, his grandfather passed away, too. He then lived with an uncle who suffered medical issues that prohibited him from caring for the young boy.

Left all alone, he found love with a new family. His sobs told a story I could never tell in this newsletter.

Nov. 16 will be a celebration. Finalizing an adoption is always the culmination of a tremendous amount of work by our staff. Pairing a child with specific needs with a family that can meet those needs is difficult. But when you get it right, the reward is great.

This is our fifth annual mass adoption ceremony at Hamilton County’s Probate Court. Judge James Cissell will preside. Seven families will adopt 13 children. If you would like to watch it live, we will livestream it over U-Stream. Look for details later this month on our website, www.hcjfs.org.

We have nearly 200 children awaiting adoption. You can see their stories and watch their videos on another of our websites, www.hckids.org. Seeing their faces is both sad – a reminder of the more than 5,000 reports of abuse we investigate every month – and inspiring, because they have not been broken and their spirit shines through in their videos.

Each has been the victim of abuse and neglect and, despite great efforts, cannot be reunited with their birth families. Now, we are trying to locate the right “match.” That sometimes takes months or years.

We don’t give up. Even as they turn 18 and become adults. Everyone needs a family throughout life.

One other way we are celebrating National Adoption Month is with a recruitment event where prospective adoptive parents can meet and spend time with some of our children. Later in the month, we will hold a celebration for all families who adopted children throughout the year.

We do what we can to encourage and celebrate the adoption of our children. We have stepped up our efforts in the past few years and received additional help this year from a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids’ grant that allowed us to add recruiters. The Nov. 16th ceremony is but a symbol of our year-round efforts. So far this year, we have had 77 adoptions. We hope to surpass last year’s 112 and 2010’s 105.

Children available for adoption come from a variety of backgrounds, neighborhoods, economic circumstances and living situations. They may have varying levels of medical, emotional or behavioral problems. They all bring their own personalities, strengths, interests and gifts.

What they need most? Love.

Can you answer the call? Do you have what it takes? If so, visit our adoption website, www.hckids.org to learn more and feel free to contact us by phone, (513) 946-1000, or e-mail, adoption@jfs.hamilton-co.org.