ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke City has one of the highest numbers of children in foster care but they also are doing the most adoptions in Virginia.
“Fostering is something I was meant to do with my life,” said Heather Briscoe, who adopted three boys.
“We were fortunate enough to be able to adopt our three boys through foster care,” said Amy Briscoe.
The couple has two 4-year-olds and one 3-year-old. The boys were just days old when they brought them home from the hospital.
For Amy, the adoption journey is emotional.
“There’s a lot of ups and downs with it, but it’s also a really beautiful experience. So it is very emotional for me,” said Amy.
“It’s sad that we do have so many children coming into care. I wish that we could have a story about how we didn’t have adoptions because we didn’t have children coming into foster care. Unfortunately, that’s just not the world we live in," said Carrie Guzman, a Roanoke City adoption specialist who worked on the Briscoe adoptions.
Guzman started in adoptions about three years ago and it was taking six months to a year to get them finalized.
“When I moved to the adoption unit I made it my goal to speed things up and just get rid of all the red tape. Any of the red tape I could get rid of, I wanted to see it gone,” said Guzman. “Now our adoptions can take anywhere from just six weeks to six months.”
By streamlining the process and having an adoption unit made up of five people, Roanoke City processed the most adoptions in Virginia for the last two years. For the last fiscal year ending June 30, they processed a total of 71.
“We really try to put a focus on doing everything correctly but also doing it timely,” said Guzman who is an adoptive parent as well and knows the difference having a permanent family makes on a child. “You can make just an unbelievable impact on a child’s life and they can make an unbelievable impact on your life.”
The Briscoes say love makes a family and that phrase was on their shirts in the courtroom on adoption day.
“It’s really true. Love does make a family,” said Amy Briscoe.
“Kids are our future and it never fails that when you look at a kid and you meet them on your level the joy that they see in life can lift your spirits in a moment,” said Heather Briscoe. “We need more people who are thinking about it, are willing to open their hearts, their homes and go on this journey.”
Guzman says she’s given feedback to other groups on how to speed up the adoption process.
If you have questions about foster care/adoption, contact DePaul Community Resources at https://www.depaulcr.org/30daysofhope/.
There are more than 700 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. 2020 marks the fourth year 10 News is doing this series.