DAYTON, OH (Nov. 16, 2023) – Montgomery County celebrated the finalization of 14 adoptions for National Adoption Day on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023, matching last year’s record-breaking event.
“At the heart of this celebration is the profound idea that every child deserves the warmth and security of a loving home,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Carolyn Rice. “Today is also a call to action—a reminder that there are kids yearning for stability and the comfort of a family.”
National Adoption Day is an effort to raise awareness of the need to find loving families for the more than 115,000 children in the United States foster care system waiting to be adopted. More than 3,000 children in Ohio are waiting for permanent families, including 100 children in Montgomery County.
“Today is a day for us to open up these proceedings to get the community involved in the celebrations,” said Judge David Brannon, Montgomery County Probate Court. “It also helps people see you don’t have to be a perfect parent to make a difference in a child’s life.”
The annual celebration was made possible thanks to the continued partnership between Montgomery County Children Services and Montgomery County Probate Court. So far in 2023, 72 adoptions have already been finalized or set for finalization. Montgomery County finalized 70 adoptions in 2022.
“This year, we have several sibling groups who are being adopted together, young children, teenagers, new parents and adoptive parents who already have grown children,” said Craig Rickett, Associate Director of Children Services. “We know families can look differently, but every family is special in its own way and that’s what this whole day celebrates.”
The Hendersons have four grown children and welcomed a sibling group of three into their family on National Adoption Day last year. It's not uncommon to see families adopt again, especially if siblings are involved, but it is uncommon and extra special to have it happen on National Adoption Day two years in a row.
"We didn't plan it that way. It just happened and we were all so excited. Our daughter was there for all the festivities last year,” said Emma Henderson, mother. “She knew all the excitement she felt last year was for her this year.”
Many Montgomery County resource families begin their journey with the plan to just foster, but often, it turns into more. That’s exactly what happened for Kimberly and Steven Bilancia. Kimberley’s mom was in foster care growing up, so she always knew the importance of fostering.
Kim said the most rewarding part of fostering for them has been seeing parents turn their lives around and reunite with their children. When reunification wasn't possible for the three children in their care, she said they couldn't imagine not having them in their lives forever.
"Adoption isn't about rewriting a child's story. It’s about adding to it to give these kids the best possible life they deserve,” Kim said. “They have a past, but it's the future that will define who they are for the rest of their lives."
While the Bilancias are now celebrating being first time parents, Crystal Cook unexpectedly finds herself celebrating the restarting of her parenting journey. Crystal has two full-grown children and has fostered primarily teens for the last 15 years. Her son, Jayce, was placed in her care as an infant.
“My girls always asked for a baby brother while they were growing up. None of us thought it'd come this late in life, but now we've all gotten what we were hoping for,” said Cook. “Our job as parents is to provide the love, opportunities and resources that our kids need to be successful and that's what our family will make sure we do for Jayce. I’m ready and excited to restart my parenting journey."
Montgomery County supports around 700 youth with custodial care each year and is always looking for foster parents for children. It’s something the Silver family recommends everyone at least consider doing. They adopted a second child from Children Services on Thursday.
"We didn't know it at the time, but Riley was the missing piece for our family. We've been so blessed to welcome many children into our home,” said Matt Silver, father. “Fostering is so rewarding and we're happy that several were able to reunite with their parents, but we've always stayed open to adopting. When Riley came, she fit right in. We now feel like our family is complete."
Interested parents must be at least 18 years of age and have sufficient financial resources to support children and provide housing. You can be married or single, rent or own your home, and you do not have to have other children. Children Services provides the 24 hours of required pre-service training at no cost and facilitates the required home study.
Informational meetings for foster parenting and adoption are held every month. The next one is at Haines Children’s Center on Monday, Dec. 11, 2023, from 6-7:30 p.m. You can call 937-224-KIDS (5437) or fill out an inquiry form online for more information.