Seven families will grow Friday when 14 children are adopted as part of Hamilton County Job and Family Services’ celebration of National Adoption Month.
A mass adoption ceremony will be held in Judge Ralph Winkler’s Hamilton County Probate Court. While adoption finalizations are normally confidential, the families have agreed to publicize the Nov. 4 ceremony to help promote adoption. The ceremony, which starts at 9 a.m., will be open to the media and will be live-streamed here.
This will be the agency’s 10th annual mass adoption ceremony, always timed to occur in November during in National Adoption Awareness Month. This year’s ceremony includes children from ages 9 months to 14 years. The children, all victims of abuse and neglect, will join new families in an emotional ceremony and celebrate afterwards with their caseworkers, court-appointed advocates, extended families and other people special to their lives.
“There are always tears at this event because it is such an emotional experience to see children find the lasting love they want and need,” said Moira Weir, director of the county’s Job and Family Services department. “We deal with a lot of heartache and despair through the year trying to help children who are victims of abuse and neglect and this is one time when we get to put that aside and really celebrate the power of family. Especially for the teens, who may have been waiting years and spent time in several different placements – finding a ‘forever family’ means so much.”
One forever family is Esther and Anthony Holliday. They are adopting Marcario, a 12-year-old who has lived in their foster home for two years. The Hollidays have run group homes and fostered dozens, but they felt an immediate and special bond with this young man and decided to make him a permanent part of their family.
“He’s so lovable. He’s adorable. He lets you love him…The way Macario just took to my husband, I knew,” Esther Holliday said. “When I asked Anthony if he wanted to adopt, he didn’t hesitate.”
Here are the stories of the other families adopting Friday:
- Three biological siblings – ages 13, 11 and 2 – are being adopted by their foster mother, with whom they have lived for two years. The mother has bonded with these children and wants to keep them together as part of her family.
- Two foster siblings – both age 2 – will become adoptive brothers. The foster mother and father have a biological daughter attending her first year of college, but are not ready to slow down. They adopted a 7-year-old earlier this year and are ready to add these two young boys to their family.
- A 3-year-old with a genetic kidney disorder is being adopted by his foster family, with whom he has lived for more than a year. They have previously adopted three other children and are excited to permanently welcome him into their family.
- A 3 year old and 9 month old – biological sisters – are being adopted by their foster parents, who have already adopted two other boys.
- Two biological siblings – a 14-year-old boy and 5-year-old boy – are being adopted by their foster family, with whom they have lived for three years. They will have four siblings – their adoptive parents’ birth children — ages 7 and younger!
- Three children, ages 8, 5 and 3 are being adopted by their foster parents to become one big, happy, blended family.
Hamilton County investigates more than 5,000 reports of child abuse and neglect each year. When intensive services fail and a child can no longer remain safe in a parent’s care and an available relative cannot be found, the county will seek custody of the child. If continued attempts at reunification fail, that child will become available for adoption and the county will attempt to find a safe and loving adoptive home.
The agency currently has about 200 children available for adoption, the lowest number in years. The Nov. 4 ceremony stands as a symbol for all of the adoptions the agency does – 75 so far in 2016 (102 in 2015).
“Staff work very hard to pair a child with specific needs with a family that can meet those needs,” Weir said. “When we get it right, that is worth celebrating.”
The 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.
But they all have one thing in common: the desire for a loving family and sense of permanency.
Any Ohio resident over 18 years old is eligible. Adoptive parents must:
- Pass a physical to show they are in good physical health and capable of caring for children.
- Pass a local, state and federal (if not a resident of Ohio for the past five years) background check.
- Pass a home study process (includes fire inspection as well as other rules and regulations).
- Pass more than 30 hours of specialized training.
Those interested in adopting or becoming foster parents can learn more at www.hckids.org or by calling (513) 632-6366 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.