By Laura Walker, staff writer for Mississippi Children’s Home Services
As you peruse the shopping mall searching for the “perfect gift,” a tree draped in white cards catches your attention. Acknowledging the delicate balance between giving and receiving is important, you decide to adopt a child from the tree. You gaze over the names and ages until one catches your attention: Blake, age 6. Turning over the card expecting a list of games and toys, you find only one request – a family. Blake, and many kids like him, wishes he could tell you he would rather have a loving home than every toy on the store shelf.
Today, more than 5,400 children are living in the Mississippi foster care system. Approximately 550 are eligible for adoption.* The vast majority of these children are in loving, caring homes, but are desperately hoping to find a place to belong in “forever homes.” For children who have suffered traumatic childhoods, that task can be difficult.
Mississippi Children’s Home Services (MCHS) serves children with emotional wounds resulting from traumatic childhood experiences. Many of these children many have been in and out of more foster homes than they can count. This lack of stability can manifest into mistrust, withdrawal and anger causing the child to put up emotional walls deflecting his ability to feel and accept love for fear he will once again be “discarded.” MCHS works to connect these children with a loving, permanent home so the child can gain a sense of self-worth, belonging and have a chance to finally heal.
“It’s imperative that we educate the community on the importance of foster care and adoption,” said Colleen Darby, LSW, therapeutic foster care program specialist for MCHS. “These children are vulnerable but they are loveable. We know the shoe has to fit ‘just right’ to create the happily ever after so we are always looking for families who are just the right fit for our kids in need.”
Mississippi has a shortage of adoptive families and suitable foster homes leading many children in the system to give up hope. MCHS, and many other organizations like them, are in great need of people willing to open their hearts and their homes to children who are crying out for help – they need someone like you who won’t give up on them. An increase in available families, would improve the success of finding the right fit for these children. If you’ve ever considered adoption or long-term foster care, you could be the gift a child like Blake not only wants, but desperately needs. What better gift could you give this holiday season than the gift of home.
To learn more about adoption or foster care services, visit the MCHS website mchscares.org, or call 800-388-6247.
*Of the 547 children available for adoption [Sept 30, 2016], 75 currently have no permanency path in place. The remaining 472 are in some stage of the adoption process.