The need for adoptive parents is growing in Indiana. The link between cases coming through the Department of Child Services and substance abuse disorders is direct.
So far this year DCS has completed more than 18,000 adoptions, up from a little more than 1,000 three years ago. This follows a sharp increase in the number of Hoosier children entering the foster system because parents are unable to care for them, often because of opioids.
Indiana DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura says awareness of the need for foster to adopt families is imperative.
“We need really good foster homes because we have more children in care than we’ve ever had nationwide but in Indiana as well,” says Bonaventura.
More than 23,000 Hoosier children are in foster care. Often they will stay with extended family and DCS is mandated to try and reunite children with parents but it can be a long process.
For older youth, a “forever home” can mean the difference between incarceration and substance abuse or a successful transition to adulthood.
Bonaventura points to one success story.
“He was fighting everybody, he was difficult to get along with,” says Bonaventura. “He found the right family or the right family found him and he ended up graduating in the top 100 out of a 1,000 kids from high school.”
DCS promotes awareness of these children through a statewide traveling photo gallery called the Indiana Heart Gallery.