MAYVILLE – Officials in Chautauqua County are recognizing National Adoption Month, and telling the story of a local woman who decided to foster two children.
Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel proclaimed November as “Adoption Awareness Month” on Friday.
“In the last four years more than 50 children have been adopted in Chautauqua County alone,” said Christine Schuyler, Commissioner of Social Services. “Our home finding and adoption teams and community agencies work diligently at recruiting new foster parents and equipping them with the tools needed to succeed and finding forever homes for children in Chautauqua County.”
In celebration of the month, county leaders are highlighting one local woman who adopted two children from foster care in hope of encouraging other families to become foster/adoptive parents.
In January 2016, Sarah B., decided to begin the process of becoming a foster parent with the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services. As a single 37-year-old, Sarah had always wanted to be a mom, but she hadn’t met the right person yet with whom to have children.
She had a stable life and family support, so she felt ready to move forward with parenting children in foster care, with the hope of someday being able to adopt. Sarah knew that adoption was an avenue to grow her family as her own mother and aunt had been adopted.
She began the licensing process and completed all the paperwork, background clearances, and pre-service classes. Within a short time, she received a call asking if she could take placement of two children, ages three and four.
Sarah was nervous but agreed and the children came to live in her home. Over the following months, Sarah helped to facilitate visits with the children’s birth family and established a routine for the children that included both her family and the children’s birth family.
“We did all the things families do: soccer games, birthday parties, family dinners, and holiday celebrations,” Sarah recalls. “Their birth mom and I got along well and I tried to support her as best I could, encouraging the kids to talk to her on the phone nightly and helping with visits. She and I had some conversations about what would happen if the kids could not go home to her.”
“By April of the next year, she had decided to surrender her parental rights with the condition that I adopt the children and that she still has a relationship with them.”
The adoption process moved forward very quickly and Sarah and the children went to Family Court in Mayville.
“(We) were officially made a forever family,” said Sarah. “We celebrate our ‘Adoptaversary’ each year by doing something special together.”
The children are now 10 and almost nine. Sarah’s son Bronx is in middle school. He is a natural athlete, a diligent scholar, and a caring friend. Isabella is athletic, artistic, and so inquisitive.
“Our family is constantly busy with scouting, dancing, cheerleading, baseball, and dogs,” said Sarah. “We visit with their birth mom a few times a year and I often think how grateful I am to her. I don’t think words exist that could express the respect I have for her, knowing that she has entrusted me with these beautiful children whom she loves so much. I carry a piece of her in my heart and hope she has peace, health, and happiness.”
Sarah would like to encourage other families to consider becoming foster/adoptive parents stating, “If you’ve ever even considering fostering, call and ask some questions. It has changed my life forever in the best ways possible.”
If you would like to learn more about becoming a foster parent, contact the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services at (716) 661-8212.