Adopting a child is a personal decision — obviously not something to be taken lightly.
But it's something that, if done right, can change a child's life — as well as your family's life — for the better.
This is National Adoption Month. As we reported Sunday, there are nearly 1,600 children in the state's foster care program who are searching for their "forever families."
Gov. Mike Parson recently recognized counties in the Southeast Missouri Region of the Department of Social Services. Their efforts resulted in completed adoptions from foster care for 418 children during fiscal year 2020.
The Northeast Missouri Region, which includes Cole County, saw only 273 adoptions over the past fiscal year — and that's lower than the region's five-year average.
Cole County had its lowest rate of adoptions over the past five years, according to the September 2020 DSS Children's Division Children's Services Management Report. The county has been on a steady decline.
In the fiscal year ending in 2016, parents adopted 34 children; 2017, 25; 2018, 19; 2019, 19; and 2017, 17.
"The need is still great," DeAnna Alonso, director of the Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association, said in Sunday's story. "Kids are in desperate need of families."
Three particular challenges, she said are getting people to adopt children who are older than 9, who are minorities and who are medically fragile.
Adoption isn't for everyone, and there are significant hurdles and hardships involved. But the rewards can be great.
Adoption has been a blessing that has brought joy to many families. For many, it has fulfilled a lifelong dream to raise a child.
If you believe it has the potential to enrich your family, we urge you to further explore adoption.
One good place to start would be through the Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association, located here in Jefferson City.