National Adoption Month Means a Happy Day for Some Foster Care Kids

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - About 400,000 kids remain in the foster care system nationwide. But there is an extra glimmer of hope in those numbers this month. About 4,500 adoption events will take place in November uniting those children with new, permanent homes.

November is important for those who work in foster care and the family court system because it's National Adoption Month. The idea is to schedule large numbers of public adoption proceedings to give children in foster care hope for a brighter future. In Iowa alone, about 6,100 children are staying with foster families. But 765 of those kids could be adopted by a qualified family right now because their biological parents have had parental rights terminated.

This month, public adoption events are scheduled in eight Iowa cities. On Friday, five children in Cedar Rapids officially joined new families.

Typically, families and children don't want to end up in a juvenile courtroom. But members of the Scott and Dana Blauer family were more than happy to answer questions from a juvenile judge about Gabrielle Blauer, 16. The Blauers were ready to formalize an adoption and Gabby was more than ready to join a new family.

"It's taken a long time," the 16-year-old said later adding with a sigh "it's good."

During the ceremony, Gabby signed legal paperwork to change her last name to Blauer. Her new adoptive family took foster care training only as a means of bringing Gabby into their Cedar Rapids home a year and a half ago. But she's been a friend of the family, and neighbor, for years. She grew up near the Blauers and was best friends with the family's youngest daughter Roxanne, also 16. As Gabby's home life became more and more dysfunctional she started spending more time with the Blauers. Friday's legal paperwork just reinforced the family situation that's gradually evolved over the last several years.

Roxanne Blauer was perhaps the most excited of all after the court hearing. That's because she was officially getting a new sister.

"It's the greatest thing ever to have my best friend since very young come in and be my sister now legally and everything," Roxanne Blauer said.

Roxanne and her mother Dana couldn't quite agree who brought up the idea of formal adoption after Gabby started living with them in a foster care arrangement. Dana Blauer said in one sense, nothing really changed with the adoption Friday.

"Gabby's always been a part of our life anyway even as a small child. So it doesn't feel any different," Dana Blauer said.

But Kevin Slater, a volunteer who works with adoption groups like Iowa KidsNet, said it is different legally. And celebrating the success and difference is a way to encourage other Iowa families to open their homes to a child in need.

"Iowa KidsNet has done a wonderful job and they don't stop here. They follow up to make sure families are doing a good job. I'm just real excited about it because I come from an adopted family," Slater said.

Organizers of the adoption event said by the time National Adoption Month is over between 60 and 70 Iowa children now in foster care will have new, adoptive homes. That's the good news. The bad news, adoption supporters say, is there are still many more Iowa children who could use a good home including older teens who are always harder to place.
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