CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. – When a child is in foster care, there are many people around them to help with services--- case managers, therapists, and more. But help doesn't stop for families once they adopt a child. There are free post-adoption services that keep families together.
The Sellers family changed forever when Hunter was adopted from foster care.
"That was a special time, special day. We were all very excited to know at that point he was going to be ours and we were going to be his forever family," said Mark Sellers.
For Mark and Becky Sellers, support after adoption meant the world.
"I think it would've been so much harder to parent Hunter if we would've just been 'OK here you go, have a happy life'. It's been hard, it's really been hard. We've had some really hard times with him," said Becky.
Hunter has autism and is also a possible shaken baby case. But through DePaul Community Resources, they've had access to support groups, counseling, and free parent nights out.
"I think it's so awesome to be part of a community. I think sometimes it can feel really isolating when you are parenting a kid from a hard place and going through hard times. Some of our friends that haven't been through that don't really understand or get it," said Becky.
That community has also been good for Hunter, who meets other boys like him.
"They all know they are adopted. He just had his first sleepover a couple weeks ago with one of the boys from his adoption group," said Becky. "I think that's been huge as a mom to know these people accept my son, he can develop friendships here, he can feel part of things and I think community is just as important for kids as it is for us."
"If families don't have that support they start to falter, and when that starts to happen children end up coming back into care and the process starts all over again," said Oma McReynolds, the DePaul Adoption Supervisor who adds the needs change as the families and children grow.
"A lot of families have a lot of fear about reaching out especially after adoption because they feel guilty or they feel that it somehow makes them less capable if they're asking for help. What we try to educate and teach families is help is to be expected. You're not supposed to have to do this on your own. Parenting is hard," she said.
But for the Sellers, this makes it a littler easier.
"Sometimes I feel like you barely survive. I think being part of this helps us thrive," said Becky.
DePaul has been doing post-adoption services for more than 15 years. It's paid for by a grant through the Virginia Department of Social Services. The services are free for anyone who has adopted--- internationally, or here in the U.S --- not just foster care.
If you have questions about foster care/adoption, contact Cindy Davis at DePaul Community Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540.381.1848 x 4009 or online at www.depaulcr.org
There are more than 600 children who are ready for foster to adoption in Virginia. They are ready to find a permanent and loving forever family. 10 News is profiling one child who needs a home every day at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. in 30 Days of Hope. The children are all ages and races and were put into foster care due to no fault of their own.