In Michigan, there are approximately 13,000 children in foster care and 300 children who still need an adoptive family, according the the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
November is recognized as National Adoption Month and Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020 is National Adoption Day. To observe the day, Bethany Christian Services highlighted stories of foster care adoption, raising awareness about the more than 400,000 kids in foster care in the United States looking for a loving family.
“Bethany seeks to provide services to some of the most vulnerable people, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. around the world," Joel Bell, branch director for Bethany Christian Services in Southwest Michigan, said. "That would often include children who have been orphaned, abused, or neglected. It also includes children who are refugees or immigrants.”
Bell said in Kalamazoo County, there were about 500 kids in foster care as of Nov. 21.
“Families are really God’s design for taking the best care of children and sadly, there are many children without families," he said.
He said there was always a need for foster parents to help children in the system.
“Foster children are in foster care due to no fault of their own," Bell said. "These are kids who have experienced or been the victim of a trauma and they need families who will patiently, lovingly welcome them in. Although they’ve been traumatized, they’re also children just like any others you might meet.”
Lenné Eddie, a single mom of four from Kalamazoo, adopted three of her kids: 4-year-old Timothy, 6-year-old Ta'Miah, and 9-year-old Unique from foster care.
“I went from having one to having four," Eddie said, laughing. “I started out fostering and I found out they needed a forever home. My oldest and I talked about it and we didn’t want to let them go. We wanted to keep them forever.”
Eddie was a foster mom to Ta'Miah and Unique for two years before officially adopting them in 2019. She fostered Timothy for about three years before officially adopting him in June 2020.
“Getting the paper in the mail saying they are my kids and knowing they’re not going anywhere, they’re going to be here," Eddie said, about finalizing the adoption process.
She said she had to go through various steps before officially becoming approved to be a foster parent.
“There’s a lot of background checks they do to make sure there are no criminal records," she said. "You get fingerprinting done, there’s a rigorous interview, lots of paperwork for them to get to know what type of personality and family you have. Several workers come out to the home several times.”
Bell said foster families were a diverse group.
“There’s no one makeup for a foster family," Bell said. "Foster parents can be single, they can be a couple, they can own a home, they can live in an apartment, they can be employed, they can be retired, they can have children or not. Every possible makeup you can think of is really represented in the foster parents.”
Bell said about 20% to 25% of children in foster care got adopted, and often, it was by their foster families. He said every child deserved to be raised in a good home.
“To provide children with the opportunity to have a family that will care for them," he said. "Without that, what ends up happening sadly, is there are children in foster care who will age out of the foster care system and the outcomes for children who age out are not good. Those children deserve better.”
Eddie said becoming a foster parent has been rewarding in many ways.
“I didn’t always know I wanted to adopt, but I always knew I wanted to foster," she said. "It was something God put into my heart that he did not take away. When I was trying to decide whether to foster or not, I asked Him to take this urge from my heart if I was not meant to do it but the urge to foster got stronger and stronger.”
Bethany Christian Services has two virtual informational meetings coming up on Nov. 23 and Dec. 1.