adoption

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin said the man he has appointed to oversee the state’s adoption and foster care system is being unfairly criticized.

Bevin tapped Dan Dumas, a senior vice president with Louisville Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, to be Kentucky’s adoption “czar” earlier this month.

Democrats have criticized the appointment for its high pay and Dumas’ lack of experience working in the adoption system.

During a Facebook live event on Friday, Bevin defended the move.

Kentucky's House Speaker Appoints Adoption Task Force

Apr 19, 2017
LRC Public Information

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers will meet over the summer to craft legislation aimed at overhauling the state's adoption and foster care system.

Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover appointed the committee on Wednesday. It will be led by Democratic state Rep. Joni Jenkins of Louisville and House Republican caucus chairman David Meade of Stanford.

Specifically, the committee will be looking at how to shorten the adoption process and make it less expensive.

Fostering an Unconditional Love

Mar 21, 2017
Melanie Watts

WKU Public Radio partnered with WKU PBS and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption to produce a radio series and television documentary on foster care and adoption.

More than 400,000 U.S children are in foster care, removed from their families when their parents are in crisis and can’t take care of them.  There’s a group of people who unselfishly answer the call by becoming foster parents. 

One of them is Melanie Watts of Bowling Green.  She didn’t give birth to any of her three children, but loves them just the same.  She adopted them through foster care, a journey that began while working as a captain at the Bowling Green Police Department.

“Maybe I hit the age, maybe it was just that point of my life where I thought something was missing, and I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I thought to myself, I just need a child.  'One would be great,' I kept thinking. So I went through the foster care program," explained Watts.  "I was working one afternoon and got a call to check child welfare.  We get there, and there’s a child laying in a stroller wearing a white onesie, or at least it had been white at one time. It was now brown, her diaper was brown and almost dragging, and the mom, you know, is upset that social services is there."

A federal appeals court has ruled that Kentucky must pay relatives who foster a child just like it pays adults who are licensed foster parents.

News outlets reported this week that this means relatives would receive payments until they obtain permanent custody.

Lawyer Richard Dawahare filed the lawsuit on behalf of a low-income woman denied foster payments for her two great-nephews.

Some say it's what's best for the children. Others worry how the state will afford it.

Meacham Family

A decision by the government of an African nation is having a big impact on U.S. families trying to bring home adopted children, including at least 20 families in Kentucky. Citing concerns about the health and well-being of children previously adopted children, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) last fall cancelled the exit permits needed by adopted children to leave the country and join their new families abroad.

Bethany Meacham of Louisville is one of the mothers caught in limbo due to the decision. Bethany and her husband, Jon, decided to look into adoption after a miscarriage made them think they might not be able to have a child naturally. Bethany has since given birth to two children, now ages 4 and 1. But after learning about the conditions of orphans in the DRC and doing further research, the Meachams decided to adopt a son from that country.

“So we started the paperwork process to adopt from there, three-and-a-half-years ago before we ever set foot in Congo. Since then, my husband was able to go last November for the first time and meet our son, who was legally adopted and who was ours at that time.”

“His orphanage had actually just burned down, so my husband took supplies to the orphanage.”

The Meachams named their son Malachi, and he became their legally adopted son last July. But the Meacham’s hopes of bringing their son to Kentucky were derailed when the Congolese government announced it was halting the issuing of exit visas for foreign adoptions. Since then, Bethany Meacham says she has had to be content with getting bits and pieces of information about Malachi, the son she’s never really gotten to know.

A Warren County group dedicated to providing safe environments for all children hopes more families will consider adoption.

November is adoption awareness month, and the Family Enrichment Center is hoping to shine the spotlight on kids of all ages who are looking for what's known as "forever homes." The group's Board of Directors Chair, Jennifer Brinkley, says a new adoption resource center in Bowling Green is aimed at helping interested parties navigate the often complicated adoption process.

"There are over 120 children in our region who are currently waiting to be adopted," Brinkley told WKU Public Radio. "So it's an important resource when people don't know how to go about the process."

"The Family Enrichment Center, through that adoption resources center, can really help those families."

Brinkley says she often advises families interested in adoption to consider children other than newborns. She says there are many older children-including teenagers-who are eligible for adoption.

An estimated 7,000 Kentucky children are currently in foster care, residential homes, or detention facilities.