Adoptive families, staff and organizations supporting adoption and foster homes were honored Thursday, Nov. 15. El Paso County Commissioners unanimously approved a Proclamation recognizing November as National Adoption Month at their regular meeting.
“The El Paso County Department of Human Services, with its many private, community based and non-profit partners, plays a vital role in maintaining and increasing citizen involvement in adoption so that waiting children can find stable and permanent homes,” said Commissioner President Pro Tem Mark Waller as he read the Proclamation into the record. “It is with great thanks that we recognize all El Paso County adoptive parents and the many dedicated adoption professionals who work to connect foster children with loving families.”
President Gerald Ford recognized National Adoption Week when he was in office. It later expanded to a month of recognition. It became a collective national effort to raise awareness in the 1990s.
“I know kids need parents who love them. It is crucial in the upbringing of any child in our community,” President Pro Tem Waller said. “Opening your home is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give, especially for those most vulnerable in our community.”
Through the efforts of the El Paso County Department of Human Services (DHS) and community partners, 522 adoptions have been completed for children in foster care or kinship care over the last five years. Of those, 309 were kin or kin-like adoptions.
“The adoptive families are the heroes,” said Yvonne Sletta, adoption unit supervisor. “The DHS adoption unit works really hard to get adoptions completed. “I estimate we will have 130 adoptions in El Paso County by the end of the year. About half will be with kin or kin-like placements.”
Last year in Colorado, 914 children and youth were adopted through the foster care system. Thus far this year, there have been 644 adoptions. However, there is still a need: Nearly 300 children and youth are still waiting to be adopted.
“I watch the miracles our staff and families perform every day. We have 20 children waiting for homes in El Paso County, and an even greater need for foster families,” said Jill Bradley, division manager.
El Paso County works with Child Placements Agencies to foster and adopt children. Those agencies work directly with families with training and support.
“We have a community that really cares about the strength of families. Adoption is a key component of placing children into families so they can have a normal childhood,” said Commissioner Stan VanderWerf. “I’m really proud of all the work that DHS does.”
More information about how to adopt or foster children in El Paso County is online.
“I encourage families to seriously consider opening their homes to those in need and consider being an adoptive or foster parent,” said Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez, Jr.