CORTLAND — To celebrate National Adoption Day on Saturday, Trumbull County Children Services hosted a roller skating party for the 17 families in the county that have finalized an adoption over the past year.
National Adoption Day is an effort to focus attention on the more than 400,000 children waiting to be adopted from foster care in the United States. A coalition of national partners — the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Alliance for Children’s Rights and Children’s Action Network — founded National Adoption Day.
TCCS hosts an event each year to honor local growing families and to remind the community that many children still are waiting for their forever homes. Children services has more than 40 children in permanent custody, with approximately 20 children waiting for their forever family.
“While the agency mission is to help families reunify, sometimes this isn’t in the best interest of the child,” Trudy Seymour, TCCS adoption supervisor, said. “Through consistency, love and compassion from foster caregivers, kids begin to feel safe and can begin to heal. Through a collaborative partnership we all surround children with the mental health, medical and educational treatment that they need to overcome their trauma and become successful, happy young adults. While our foster caregivers provide a safe, temporary home, our adoptive families provide the forever home that every child is entitled to.”
This year’s theme, “Small Steps Open Doors,” emphasizes that small efforts from the community have a lasting impact on youth and position them for positive outcomes. One family that exemplifies this theme is the Vaughn family of Niles.
Robert and Audrey Vaughn finalized the adoption of their son, Meade, 17, this year, but their story goes back to 2019. Step-by-step, they built their relationship until the adoption just a few months ago.
Mentors at TCCS spend at least an hour per week with the child, or children, they are partnered with. After a while, when both parties are comfortable with each other, the mentor can take the child on outings, then after that, once the mentor’s living space passes an inspection, the child can come to the mentor’s home.
Robert became Meade’s mentor in the fall of 2019. It wasn’t long before Meade was invited for Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve dinners.
“(Meade) was shy at first, but then he opened up and from then on, was part of the family,” Robert said.
When it came to fostering Meade, Audrey said a mutual interest was there. Meade had asked someone at TCCS why the Vaughns couldn’t just foster him. Little did he know, the couple was working on becoming licensed foster parents so they could do just that. Meade started living with the Vaughn family on April 2, 2021. He got along well with the family’s teenage daughter and dogs, and everything fell into place.
Robert and Audrey finalized their adoption of Meade on June 29.
“We’re the rare foster parents, in the sense that we take teenagers, where most people want babies and young children,” Robert said. “I feel like my calling is teenagers because they often get left behind.”
Audrey’s advice for anyone thinking of fostering or adopting a teenager is to be patient and know that the child likely will try to push back, but only because they have been hurt before. She said to keep loving them through it.
Kelly Dillon of Champion had similar advice for anyone looking to foster or adopt.
“If you’re thinking about it, you’re probably the exact right person to do it,” Dillon said. “You’re never 100 percent ready to be a parent no matter how you do it, but you learn as you go.”
She started fostering six years ago. She was a soccer coach for pre-teen and teenage boys and had several children who were in foster care, so she decided to become a foster parent herself. In August 2019, she adopted Princeton, 5, and in December 2021 she adopted Jaymes, 2, and is still a foster parent.
For more information about fostering and adoption, call Michelle Schmader, TCCS community liaison and recruitment specialist at 330-372-2010, Ext. 1343.NEWSLETTER
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