NEW HAVEN--November is National Adoption Awareness Month, and on Friday dozens of Connecticut children went from having foster families to forever families. They were officially adopted.
With today’s ceremony at New Haven Juvenile Court, one Cheshire couple has now adopted two biological sisters this year.“It's almost unreal, when you're signing the papers, it's like, wait, I can't believe this is actually happening after all this time,” said Shannon Nutting, who is now a mom to Sara, 3, and Etta, 5, with her partner, Merdeith Burdick.
Like the completion of Etta’s adoption in January, Sara officially earned her new last name after a three-year wait, which can be excruciating to foster parents because they never know if the birth parents are going to have a change of heart.
“It was up and down and it was ‘oh they’re doing wonderful’ and ‘you know we might have to reunite her and then reunify her’ and the next month it would be like oh, don’t worry about,” said Nutting.
It is the Connecticut Department of Children and Families' goal to identify and connect with people, like relatives and close friends, who have a history of involvement with a foster child, especially those in languishing care.
“And, a lot of times, those are sibling groups or kids with complex medical needs or teenagers, which is a huge group,” said Elizabeth Duryea, a DCF attorney.
Of the roughly 4,000 kids under DCF’s care, half of them are aged 12 and older. Many are stuck in the system because of stigmas.
“What's critical for the teens is, these are children that are getting ready to adulthood,” said Duryea, who added that’s why they need quality adult influences. “Our focus is on fictive kin and relatives, but we also know there's other caring adults. It could be a coach. It could be a teacher. It could be someone affiliated with a faith based organization.”
While the department places increasing emphasis on child-specific recruitment, it also is continuing to mark National Adoption Month with a number of public awareness activities, including:
- On Nov. 29 Sendoutcards.com, a greeting card company, will send a “Congratulations” card to all DCF families who adopted on National Adoption Day. The greeting card was designed with artwork done by children in care.
- Throughout the month, DCF will use its Facebook and Twitter pages to raise awareness about adoption.
- The DCF Heart Gallery will feature nine children waiting to be adopted with photos taken by professional photographers and narratives telling their stories. The Heart Gallery will be shown at the following venues:
- Brass City Mill, Waterbury
- Bridgeport Library, Bridgeport
- Charter Oak Cultural Center, Hartford
- The Green Street Art Center at Wesleyan University, Middletown
- Kindermusik, Wallingford
- Kennedy and Perkins Opticians, Orange
- Medical Building, One Long Wharf, New Haven;
- Red Clover General Store, Seymour
- The Parker Mills Office Building, Wallingford
- UConn Health Center, Farmington
- Shubert Theater, New Haven
How to become an adoptive parent
- Call 1-888-KID-HERO for more information and a listing of open house informational sessions available in your area.
- Keep in mind that training required to become an adoptive parent takes approximately 10 weeks.
- It takes approximately 3-4 months total to become licensed, which includes the training, a home-study and background checks.
Dupport adoptive families receive
- Adopted children may be eligible for both a financial and a medical subsidy.
- Adopted children are eligible for DCF’s post secondary education financial assistance program.
- Families can receive help through the Adoption Assistance Program for a variety of services, including assessment, support and referrals to community-based and in-home services.