by Ronya Campbell
With over 7,000 children in the Department of Children and Families (DCF) care, there are countless youth in Massachusetts who would give anything to be a part of a permanent family. In 1976, former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, announced the first Adoption Week in the Commonwealth. As more states started hosting their own Adoption Weeks, it became clear that it needed to be recognized nationally. Seventeen years ago, President Bill Clinton proclaimed November National Adoption Month. Today, the month-long celebration recognizes positive ways to build families and influence young lives. It brings attention to the hundreds of thousands of children in foster care who are awaiting adoption.
The Home for Little Wanderers (The Home), the nation’s oldest child welfare agency, has worked with many individuals and couples throughout its long history. Couples like Mary and Kurt VanderZeyde of Middleboro who struggled to have a family naturally and decided to become foster and adoptive parents as the result of the awareness in their community.
When Mary when saw a flyer in her local grocery store for The Home’s Intensive Foster Care program she realized that there were other ways to fulfill her wish of becoming a mother. The VanderZeyde’s fostered six children before ultimately deciding to adopt their two daughters Alexis, 10, and Mikaila, 12, five years ago.
“We always remind the girls how they were chosen and how blessed we feel that they came into our lives,” Mary said. “By keeping the adoption open and known to them, it has allowed us to interact with their biological families.” One of the girls is bi-racial and the other is Puerto Rican. The open adoption has permitted a fuller understanding of the cultures that they come from.
The VanderZeydes frequently share the story of their adoption journey and how happy they are with their decision to grow their family. They tell anyone interested in adoption, “Do it. Don’t hesitate!”
The Home’s Adoption Program is dedicated to providing permanent homes for children and offers adoption services to families interested in children of all ages. The Home is a full-service adoption program that specializes in “waiting children” adoptions, domestic adoptions and inter-country adoptions. They also provide MAPP training, birth parent counseling, adoption assessments and support services.
The Home’s Adoption Program has an affiliation with The Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) which is the bridge between DCF, private adoption agencies, and adults interested in adoption. MARE has helped over 5,900 children find forever families.
Mary VanderZeyde says, “A family is what you make of it. There’s always room for one more at the table. ... There are many paths you can take. Consider adopting an infant, siblings, or an older child who has never had a stable parental figure. All of these children are in need and would make great additions to a family.”
For more information about The Home’s Adoption program, visit http://www.thehome.org/adoption or call 888-HOME-321.