ROANOKE, Va. – There are more than 600 children who are ready for 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 5:30 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. 2021 marks the fifth year 10 News is doing this series.
WSLS 10 is excited to share this amazing story of how 30 Days of Hope is changing lives and adding to families.
Three children now have a permanent family, after being adopted by loving parents who were inspired by our 30 Days of Hope initiative.
“I want to take a moment to say a heartfelt thank you to your family for opening your hearts and your homes to children in need,” Ryan Downey writes in a special letter, to a special family.
“When people think about foster families, it’s not a mom and a dad of a particular age, in a particular place in life. Foster families and adoptive families come in all different shapes and sizes,” said Downey, DePaul Community Resources foster care specialist. “There is no limit to who can make a difference for these kids.”
Even though he’s done this line of work for more than a decade, he said this adoption story stands out.
“This particular family, they were not new to adoption. They actually adopted a baby from their local department of social services about 25 years ago and then they didn’t continue after that in fostering or adopting,” said Downey. “A few years ago they were watching the news and they saw 30 Days of Hope. They were just touched by the need of the kids in the foster care system and they said, ‘I can do this, I can help.’”
They went through the approval process, and two sisters moved in. We’re not naming the girls or the family in this story for their protection.
“This family knew right off the bat that these girls were up for adoption and basically that’s what they were signing up for. They did not hesitate, they jumped in with two feet and it went wonderfully for a while,” explained Downey. “Through a series of circumstances, it just became evident that they couldn’t live together permanently. It just wasn’t the right thing, it wasn’t in either of their best interests. But we also didn’t want to separate siblings.”
Determined to make it work, that’s when the brother of the foster mom agreed to take one of the girls.
“What we have now is we have these two little girls that even though they can’t live together, they can still grow up side by side, still maintain that close relationship being adopted by different households within the same extended family and it’s just a really cool thing,” said Downey.
But the story doesn’t end there, remember that boy who the family adopted 25 years ago.
“He and his wife felt the tug of those heartstrings and they too said ‘I need to help. I need to be a part of the lives of these kids that need it so much.’” said Downey.
They’re now fostering three boys and one will soon be adopted.
“It’s a multi-generational thing, it’s really cool,” said Downey, who said these families could adopt more children and it’s all because of 30 Days of Hope.
“We are in it for hope and belonging. If we can bring hope and belonging to the kids in our care, that’s the ultimate goal. We want to find them permanency and when that’s permanency through adoption that’s like the ultimate goal of why I got into this career to start with. It’s the biggest thing to celebrate, it’s the greatest level of success,” said Downey. “We’re only going to find more and more successes for these kids if we can work together in collaborative ways to really do everything we can do.”
For five years, that’s what 30 Days of Hope has done. By working with organizations like DePaul and the Virginia Department of Social Services, we’re able to shine a spotlight on the need for foster and adoptive families.
Another new foster family said this:
“Love watching all of your foster care stories each year! You do such a great job and have definitely made a difference. It was this series last year that pushed us to finally go for it and to choose older kids.”
All it takes is a phone call or email to get more info. If you have questions about foster care/adoption, contact VDSS Division of Family Services, Juliet Baldwin, Adoption Recruitment Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Downey’s letter reads:
“I want to take a moment to say a heartfelt thank you to your family for opening your hearts and your homes to children in need. You answered the call not knowing who these children were, where they would come from, or what they would need. You just knew they were out there, and they needed you to love them, support them, and give them all the comfort and care that every child deserves. These children have been blessed beyond measure by your wonderful family, but even more beautiful is to see how you have been blessed by them. You have given hope and belonging to the kids in your care and inspiration to all of us.”
To see other 30 Days of Hope stories visit us here.
We also have a list of frequently asked questions about foster care and adoption including the cost, training, etc in this link.