November is National Adoption Awareness Month
By Lynn Fredricksen
NORTH HAVEN – With bright smiles and hopeful eyes the framed faces of the children in the Heart Gallery beckon compellingly from a display in Jackie Ford’s office.
They are photographs of Connecticut’s waiting children and Ford is on a mission to help them find the homes they deserve - the families that don’t yet know how much love they will bring them. As part of National Adoption Awareness Month, Ford has scheduled several drives and two open house events through November.
“We’re trying to get as many people as we can to know that we’re here,” said Ford, a social worker with the State Department of Children and Families, Office of Foster Care and Adoption. “The biggest need is finding homes for adolescents, sibling groups and medically complex children.”
Ford has set up a temporary office at 84 Washington Ave. as the Connecticut Foster/Adopt Informational Center where she can meet and greet prospective adoptive or foster parents. She’s also got a coat drive going on to collect new or very gently used coats in sizes to fit infants through adults.
“Some of our kids are adult size,” she explained.
While the coat drive is going on, she’s also gearing up for a pajama drive from Nov. 11 to 16, a children’s book drive from Nov. 19 to 23 and a holiday teen gift card drive from Nov. 26 to 30. She notes that while the coats and books can be either new or ‘gently used’ the pajamas must be new and unused.
As she speaks, her eyes often return to the photographs that comprise the Heart Gallery.
“A professional photographer takes pictures of our kids, complimentary, then there’s a book with their stories,” Ford said. “So if someone is interested in one of our kids they can know their story.”
She also wants people to know that becoming a foster or adoptive parent is an easy process that starts with attending an open house. She’s got those scheduled at noon on Fridays and at 4pm on Sundays through the end of the month.
“There is a series of background checks and 30 hours of training so they can learn about who our kids are and the ways to best parent them,” she said.
While the goal is to have the children return to their parents, Ford knows that doesn’t always work out. When that happens, the child becomes free for adoption, like the dozen or so featured in the Heart Gallery.
“We want people to know they can just stop in and talk with no obligation,” Ford said of the open house events.
To learn more, call 1-888-KID-HERO, or contact Ford directly at 203-641-5710.