National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. As we look back over the past several month, we are reminded why adoption is so important, especially for foster children who are yearning for a forever home to call their own. Adoption is a life changing decision, for both parents and children. But adopting during a pandemic brings with it new challenges. Some parents in families with adoptive placements or temporary placement of unmatched children had to make tough decisions to quit their jobs to stay home with the children and readily did so to ensure the kids were safe as they faced all the uncertainties and changes COVID brought.

Daycares and schools closed and parents of young children needed to find a way to provide 24/7 care for the children in their own homes while balancing work responsibilities. Many of their natural supports (grandparents, friends, other family members) were unable to interact to support the families in-person.

LAS serves over 25% of the 296 unmatched children currently available for adoption statewide. Our adoption specialists serving this population had to put on hold "Meet and Greet" events and face to face introductions and visits with prospective adoptive families. A portion of the unmatched youth are placed in temporary residential facilities that were quickly closed to any physical outside contact. Youth in these centers do not have identified parents or caregivers.

We assisted families to navigate ways to access technology and utilize virtual platforms to connect to providers and keep the kids and families connected to supports. Families without adequate technology for virtual were connected to resources to get a laptop or tablet and provided information on accessing free internet services. LAS provided tablets to many families in need to ensure they were able to connect.

Unmatched adoption specialists connected virtually with our LAS youth in residential settings to find ways to help these children feel safe in the absence of identified caregivers or parents. Many reported increased anxiety as COVID continued week after week to upset their norms. LAS looked for items and activities we could obtain from donors, or purchase ourselves, to provide some stress relief for these youth.

To ensure services were continuing for clients in need, our LAS contractual behavioral health therapist was able to move all of her family and child therapy sessions from face to face to a telehealth virtual format. For more information on adopting a child from foster care, or to learn about volunteer or financial support opportunities for LAS, contact Rachel Sykes at
rsyke@samaritas.org.

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MEDIA INQUIRIES

Please Contact:
Joe DiBenedetto
Lambert & Co.
(516) 637-0597

Matt Friedman
Tanner Friedman Strategic Communications
(248) 762-1430