There are more than 4,000 children in Louisiana's foster care system. Of those, 350 are ready to be adopted today. Some of these children will bounce around between foster homes and some will cycle out of the system without ever having a mom or dad.
In an effort to change that crisis, KPLC-TV is launching a new segment called "The New Family Tree." You will see it during 7News Nightcast at 10:00 every Tuesday in May and Wednesday on Sunrise. Then, starting in June, The New Family Tree will air the first Tuesday of every month.
This series will feature success stories of families who have adopted, as well as some of the 64 children in Southwest Louisiana legally free to be adopted today.
Sharon Cummings is the adoption supervisor with the Lake Charles region of the Department of Children & Family Services. She says children that end up in foster care have been abused, neglected or removed from an unsafe living environment. "They could be abandoned, they could not be fed, they could have a home that's just not safe for them," said Cummings, "they could have been physically abused, sexually abused."
Cummings says these children, ranging in age from newborns to 17-years-old, are desperately hoping to be adopted. For some, their chances are much more slim. "Boys, especially, ages eight or nine on up to 17 and African-American boys at that," she said.
Boys like eight-year-old Ke'vontre, who watched his baby brother and younger sister get adopted into other families. Now he waits for that same dream to come true. When I asked him about the type of parents he would like to have adopt him, he said, "I don't care if they're nice, mean. I will just listen to them," he said.
Maybe fears over adoption costs had you thinking it was out of reach. Cummings says adoption through foster care typically costs only a couple hundred dollars. "If you take a child into foster care, there is a board payment that you receive every month and then with adoption, a lot of times we have subsidies," she said.
The certification process starts with orientation, then classes, a home study, background check and finally a match - something that will change the life of the child and the mom or dad willing to say "yes." "They didn't to be abused or neglected. It's not their fault and they deserve a family that will love them," said Cummings.
To learn more about adoption through foster care, call DCFS at 1-800-814-1584 or 337-491-2470.
If you have an adoption story that you want to share, e-mail it here.