For the third year in a row, Alabama set a record in 2020 for the number of foster care adoptions reported.
“I am so proud that Alabama has set yet another record and placed so many children in permanent homes,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in a press release. “I am so appreciative for the innovative work of our adoption professionals and the Department of Human Resources, during this unique time, to complete this record number of adoptions. Also, I sincerely thank our foster families, and most importantly, the forever families, for giving these children loving homes and for your sacrifice and love for our children.”
In fiscal year 2020, there were 814 foster care adoptions, the third year Alabama has set a record.
The Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes saw its foster care to adoption numbers hold steady, but Elise Vincent, ABCH’s director of social services in Birmingham, said the state’s increase is likely due to legislation affecting the court system.
Changes in system
“In March 2020, the state of Alabama made changes to the juvenile court system through [House Bill] 157 making it possible to argue the relationship a foster child holds with their foster family can be considered when terminating parental rights as long as there are other grounds for termination present,” Vincent said. “The bill also states relatives who are aware a child is in foster care have up to four months to attempt to gain guardianship of foster children.”
Vincent credits the bill with gaining “much-needed permanency for certain children in these situations. The increase in adoptions is likely directly related to this bill.”
In fiscal year 2020, the governor’s office reported that 70.5% of children who left foster care went home to family members or their parent(s).
“We certainly see that true here at Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries as well,” Vincent stated. “The majority of our children will spend some time with us, but will return to their parents or relatives.”
Partners in the process
Alabama Department of Human Resources Commissioner Nancy Buckner said the record was a milestone “in a year that has seen many delays to finalizing adoptions, due to the pandemic. We could not have accomplished this milestone without our vital partners in the permanency and adoption process, especially the judges and adoptive parents.”
Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries has seven locations statewide that offer a variety of services in each location from foster care, campus homes for children, family care, and counseling through Pathways Professional Counseling. Vincent encouraged Alabama Baptists to explore the campus nearest them to find ways to meet needs and serve their communities.
“It is important for Alabama Baptists to be involved with all aspects of the sanctity of human life,” she said. “Foster care falls into this call to care for those in need. In addition to providing a loving, Christ-centered home for children in need through foster care, becoming a foster family also enables individuals the opportunity to support a biological family in need while also sharing with them the hope of Christ — the hope He brings to all mankind and the forgiveness and life changes He can breathe into our souls. “
The previous year’s record was 731 adoptions.
Work is not done
“[W]e must be mindful that the work is not done,” Buckner said. “We have hundreds of additional children that continue to wait for his or her permanent family. Our staff and others are working hard every day to give these children that needed permanency. There are no unwanted children, just unfound families.”
There are more than 460 children in Alabama’s foster care system that need forever homes.
Vincent said there’s a need for foster families through ABCH. Training and resources are available. Visit alabamachild.org. The organization keeps an updated list of needs and how individuals/churches can volunteer.
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