This year the Arkansas Department of Human Services oversaw the adoption of more than 700 children.


But the need for more loving homes is still great. There are another 600 children in our state currently available for adoption.


November is National Adoption Month. It’s a time to increase awareness and bring attention to the need for permanent families for children and youth in the foster care system.


Over the last year, DHS has seen a nearly 30 percent growth in the overall number of children in care, with the increase coming both from the number of children entering care and the slowed rate at which children are leaving care.


This rapid growth is a crises in our state. It is one we will be addressing in the upcoming session. But this is not an issue that can be solved by the government alone.


Many of the children currently available for adoption were removed from their birth family or legal parent due to neglect, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. An adoption cannot take place unless the birth parent or legal parent’s rights have been terminated by the court.


The adoption process can take up to 6 months to complete. It includes a home study and background check. But what makes an adoption successful is a family that can make a commitment, deal with rejection, look at progress in small steps, and simply laugh.


In addition to the need for adoptive parents in our state, there is even a greater need for foster parents. There are currently 5,200 children in foster care and only 1,600 homes available to foster children. The most urgent need is for families willing to foster teenagers, sibling groups and children who need special accommodations to meet their unique challenges


Foster parenting is a serious commitment. It requires giving the gift of unconditional love to children and youth who may never have experienced love of any kind and who may not know how to accept it. But you don’t have to be perfect, to be a perfect parent for a child in care.


If you are interested in finding out more about the procedures visit the Department of Human Services website at humanservices.arkansas.gov.