Meet 8 kids who would love a family: Adoptions way down in NJ
⚫ New Jersey adoptions dropped significantly last year
⚫ State officials have a new focus when it comes to keeping children with their families
⚫ Non-relative adoptive parents are still needed
The number of children adopted in New Jersey has dropped dramatically over the past few years.
That might sound like a negative trend but according to Clinton Page, the deputy director of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families division of child protection and permanency, it’s actually quite positive.
He said 530 adoptions were finalized in 2022, which was about half the total in 2021, because the division has evolved and there is a new focus on trying to keep children with their families.
He said if initial efforts fail to ensure a safe environment for a child the first thing they will do is look for family connections the child has.
Science is his thing! Joshua, born in 2004 is very passionate about anything related to science. Favorite science learning opportunities involve dinosaurs and sea creatures. The ideal family for this easygoing, helpful and affectionate young man would be one who could provide him ongoing structure and affection as well as assist him in meeting life’s transitions.
Zion, born in 2010 describes himself as happy, silly, funny, smart and friendly. He is energetic and loves outdoors activities like swimming, playing on the playground, playing basketball, riding his bike and just running around until he drops from exhaustion. He dreams of going to California, soaking up the sun and playing on the beach. When indoors he enjoys watching TV, listening to music and drawing.
Children looking for forever homes
Lanae, born in 2010 starts her day with lots of energy and ends her day with snuggles. She is very flexible and enjoys moving around and stretching. Lanae is a mover and a shaker! She loves exploring tactile surfaces and the visual stimulation of a light switch. She loves the warmth of being close to people as well as sitting in the sunlight. The perfect end of the day is a deep pressure back rub followed by lots of hugs. Lanae needs a family who can learn how to meet her needs and be willing to accept a lifetime commitment.
Mikhail, born in 2012 is a sweet and affectionate boy whose loving demeanor endears all those around him. Mikhail cleans up the classroom at school, puts away groceries at home and is overall super helpful and kind. Mikhail enjoys outdoor activities such as baseball and frisbee. He loves being outdoors. When warm, he can be found swimming and even when it is cold outside, that doesn’t stop him! Bring on the sleigh riding and hot cocoa!
Having a connection is preferred
“When you do have to separate, the first thing you want to do is, you want (them) to be with someone they know, a house they’ve been to, whatever that connection, relationship is,” he said.
Page said if the child does not have any immediate relatives that can be located “we’re on social media looking at different avenues, in order to try identify someone that has that kind of connection to the child.”
He said if a relative cannot be found, the division also actively recruits what are called “resource parents,” people that can support a loving home for a child while trying to “partner with the birth family and get the child back home and reunified, when we do a removal we’re putting in all these services, we’re having visitation and we really want to try to work the child back home.”
Children looking for forever homes
Antinyah, born in 2008 is a sweet, kind, and helpful young lady. You can find her outside on her scooter or swimming in the summer. When indoors she enjoys putting puzzles together, playing board games such as Sorry, Uno, or Connect Four, and playing with her Barbies. She loves spending her weekends going out shopping and going to the movies. She enjoys music. One of her favorite artists is Beyonce and her favorite song is “Halo”. Antinyah has a brother that she maintains contact with and this is very important to her. Antinyah needs a loving and committed family that is dedicated to teaching and supporting her.
Selena, born in 2004 is described as resilient, strong, social and self-aware. Selena is caring and aspires to attend college and become a nurse so that she can help people. Some favorite activities are cooking, baking, swimming, listening to K-pop music and reading. The ideal day for Selena would include shopping for shoes and going out to eat for pasta or sushi. Selena is open to all dynamics of families as long as they are committed, understanding, supportive, involved in her life and most importantly love spending time together. An added bonus would be if they had pets, especially a dog.
Meet Matthew, born in 2003, a special young man who is affectionately referred to as Matty Matt because of his happy-go-lucky, lovable personality. Matthew is described as a mild-mannered young man with an infectious smile and docile heart. Matthew communicates his needs by using gestures, touch and sounds. He is also able to communicate using The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). Matthew is very energetic and loves to be outdoors. He particularly enjoys playgrounds and amusement parks. His favorite holiday is Independence Day because he loves to watch the fireworks.
When asked to describe himself, Alex, born in 2007 says that he is smart, happy, a good guitar player, and gives the best hugs. When he’s feeling playful, he often responds to questions with his own interesting follow-up questions, finding humor in the recipient’s reactions with his laughing squeal. Two of Alex’s favorite foods are bananas and pizza, and he always remembers to pray before digging in! No one can beat Alex at the card game UNO, but you can try if you feel up to the challenge- he dares you! Other hobbies he enjoys are playing kickball, soccer, checkers and, last but not least, showing off his toy car collection.
When reunification is not possible
Page said in some instances, usually around a year into a case, if reunification is not possible the resource parents may then move to the next step in the process towards permanent adoption.
“We still have viable permanency plans of adoption for kids with unrelated resource parents, but it’s just all of the work has kind of shifted up front.”
He said when resource parents wind up permanently adopting a child, from start to finish the process can take 2 and a half to 3 years.
Page said kids of all ages are adopted in New Jersey but usually it’s faster and easier to find new forever homes for younger kids, ages 4, 5 and 6, compared to teenagers.
Financial help is offered
He said when people become resource parents, “we support, we provide a monthly subsidy to them throughout the process as well, and that subsidy is meant to be spent on the youth.”
Page noted in addition resource parents will also get financial help for a variety of services, including physical and psychological that a child may need.
You can get more information about adoption in New Jersey here.
David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com
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