Today is National Adoption Day, which celebrates forever families and highlights those children still waiting to find homes. In Ohio, some kids are getting a chance to be in the limelight.
Several Ohio children-services agencies are partnering with the organization Grant Me Hope to create personalized videos of foster children who want to be adopted.Sonya Russell, adoption matching coordinator for the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services, was involved in the video-making process for two sibling groups. She said it allowed the kids to show their personalities, strengths and desires.
"To actually be there while it was being filmed and then see the end result just really warmed my heart," she said. "The boys seemed to have such a good time. It gave them an opportunity to have a voice, and they were very eager to see what their outcome was going to be for the video."
The Ohio counties involved with Grant Me Hope include Hamilton, Lorain, Montgomery and Summit. The videos are posted online at grantmehope.org and shared on social media. Some agencies also partner with local television stations that air the videos as a public service.
Julie Schoenlein, family recruitment coordinator for Lorain County Children Services, said video can help bring a child's story to life, with details that can't be shared on a flyer or website. She added that it's especially important for older youths, who have lower overall adoption rates because of misconceptions about teens in foster care.
"So it's really an opportunity to take away that stigma, take away that bias towards children that are older, and really show these wonderful children in their own setting that deserve families," she said.
Besides helping to connect foster youth to prospective families, Russell said the videos also might inspire people who might not be looking to adopt to find other ways to be involved with the foster-care system.
"Perhaps it can also be a way to recruit individuals to possibly mentor, or provide some type of permanent connection for that young person," she said, "but, of course, our ultimate goal is for them to find that forever family, and not have to 'age out' of our system."
More than 3,200 children are eligible for adoption in Ohio.
Data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is online at data.jfs.ohio.gov.