LCFS: COVID-19 hasn't stopped the adoption journey
Even with a pandemic, families continue to successfully navigate the adoption journey to grow their families. National Adoption Awareness Month in November is a time to celebrate those who are welcoming adopted children into their families.
During the coronavirus pandemic, people have had to postpone or cancel numerous activities or opportunities. Children have had so many of the little joys of childhood taken from them. Every day we hear stories of what people have lost. Thankfully it hasn't stopped many individuals from completing their adoption journeys and giving children a family.
"The need for children, of all ages, to have a loving home will never change," said Beverly Jones, vice president and chief operating officer at Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois. "At LCFS, we're committed to helping all children in Illinois find their forever families whether that be through reunification with birth family, foster parents adopting or identified domestic adoption."
While most forms of adoptions have continued, families faced uncertainty and fear in the early stages not knowing how COVID would impact their adoption journeys. The adoption process was forced to evolve and all parties involved encountered rolling procedural changes from delays to virtual home study visits to changing hospital protocols to Zoom court hearings.
"Yet the need for adoption services hasn't gone away during the pandemic, so our adoption team has had to find new and creative ways to continue to provide caring services under these pandemic circumstances," said LCFS Director of Adoptions Laurie Lawton. "We modified to fit each new circumstance we were faced with, and will continue to do so. I don't see this new way of doing adoptions changing back anytime soon."
Kimberly and Erling were one of many families whose adoption journey took place during the pandemic. In February 2020 after two unsuccessful attempts to adopt, the couple connected with a pregnant woman in Arkansas who was considering placing her baby for adoption. Then COVID-19 hit and everything changed. The family was able navigate their way through the next few months of unknowns with the help of Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois.
"LCFS did a great job telling us what we might expect due to the pandemic," shared Kimberly. "It was a rollercoaster of emotions. Some of the highest highs and lowest lows of my life."
In late June, Kimberly and her family piled into their car for the 12-hour drive from Illinois to Arkansas to hopefully bring home their son. Two days later, their soon-to-be adopted son Miles was born.
"We weren't able to be in the delivery room due to COVID restrictions, but the hospital set up a family room for us," said Kimberly. "I was impressed by all the precautions they were taking. We saw the baby for the first time just an hour after he was born, and we've been with him every minute since."
Ten days later, Kimberly and Erling officially adopted their new son Miles via a virtual court hearing in Arkansas. The next day the new family of four headed home to Illinois.
Every adoption journey is different. COVID has made it a little more challenging, but it hasn't stopped LCFS and other agencies from helping build forever families for children in need of a loving home.
"The main thing about adoption is to remain open-minded and super flexible whether you're in the middle of a pandemic or not," explained Kimberly. "It's been such an incredible journey, but it's really only started. Now we have a whole life with Miles to build and enjoy as a family."
Jones added, "We are honored to work with all types of families through our adoption and foster care programs who didn't let COVID stop them from giving children the forever families they deserve. This November, National Adoption Awareness month, we just want people to know there are children out there in need of loving families."
Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois improves the well-being of people across the state by protecting children, strengthening families and building futures for those who have experienced trauma. As one of the largest community-based child welfare agencies in Illinois, it does this by providing a variety of services including foster care, adoption and preventative care programs that keep children safely with their families. LCFS embraces new and innovative solutions to the challenges impacting children and families.