• 64°

Foster parent adoptions way up

The number of foster parent adoptions in both Chilton County and the state of Alabama have skyrocketed for fiscal year 2009.

The Chilton County Department of Human Resources reported 26 adoptions between Oct. 1, 2008 and Sept. 30, 2009 — a dramatic increase over the three adoptions recorded the previous year.

Statewide, 676 waiting children were adopted during the same time period. That shatters the previous record of 412 adoptions set in fiscal year 2008.

Chilton County DHR Director Marilyn Colson said the organization has made a concerted effort to provide children with permanent homes, whether it be with their birth parents or foster parents.

“It’s very important for children to have a permanent home and not just remain in foster care. That’s what used to happen,” Colson said.

She explained that DHR works with the families of foster children for 12 to 18 months. If birth parents cannot provide a safe home, the organization seeks the termination of parental rights. In cases where parents are making a clear effort to reunite with their children, the waiting period may be extended.

On the other side, foster parents must meet licensing standards, go through background checks and meet home safety guidelines.

Colson said one reason for the high number of adoptions is because DHR hired an adoption specialist, Pam Callaghan Moore. Before, every case worker was handling their own case load, which was not as efficient.

“We probably won’t ever have that many again because we’ve caught up the backlog,” Colson said. “We made it a priority because we knew these children needed permanency.”

She added that the juvenile court system and the probate court have been supportive throughout the process.

“To make all this work, it takes everyone working together,” she said.

There are currently about 38 foster families and 100 foster children in the county. Colson estimated that between 10 and 15 children will be adopted by foster parents next year.

In March, Chilton County DHR will host another 10-week training course for prospective foster parents. For more information, contact Christy Haigler at 280-2060.

“We want to encourage more Alabamians to adopt,” Gov. Bob Riley said in a state press release.