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November points up need in Michigan for adoptive families

Gathering with family is the hallmark of Thanksgiving.

So it’s not surprising that November would be Adoption Month, pointing up the needs of children who might not have a family and home that can provide a stable, loving environment in which to grow up.

In fiscal year 2019, 2,038 children were adopted from the Michigan foster care system, according to preliminary data from the state Department of Health and Human Services that will be updated in January.

As Michigan celebrates Adoption Month, the MDHHS plans two new projects to find adoptive homes more quickly for children in foster care who can’t safely return home.

One initiative assigns 21 MDHHS child welfare staff, called permanency resource monitors, to remove barriers to finalizing adoptions that have been on hold more than six months — barriers such as concerns about the child’s behavior and incomplete documents can delay adoptions even when a family has been identified.

For the second initiative, planned in mid-2020, MDHHS will work with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program, which pays for recruiters to help find adoptive homes for children in foster care. Research has shown the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids model to be more effective at serving children who have been in foster care the longest — including teenagers, sibling groups and children with special needs.

“Every child deserves the opportunity to have a loving, permanent home,” said JooYeun Chang, MDHHS Children’s Services Agency executive director. “MDHHS is committed to finding families for all children who are legally free for adoption — and doing this in a timely fashion. Our staff and partners will continue to work together to better accomplish these goals that are so important for our children and families.”

As part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declaring November as Adoption Month in Michigan, courts statewide — in partnership with MDHHS — will have special Adoption Month ceremonies this month at which children officially become permanent members of their new forever families.

Included is an event Tuesday at the Michigan Supreme Court Hall of Justice in Lansing. A list of Adoption Day events and profiles of adoptive families can be found on the Michigan Adoption Resource exchange Adoption Day webpage.

Those interested in adopting from foster care can contact the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange at 800-589-6273, or see biographies and photos of children available for adoption at www.mare.org.

The state has about 13,100 children in the foster care system, though the goal for most is reunification with their families.

For more information about adoption in Michigan, go to www.michigan.gov/adoption.

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