FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — November is National Adoption Month, and while the Indiana Department of Child Services is reporting a drop in total yearly adoptions for the first time in at least 8 years, officials believe this is just a bump in the road for kids still in our foster system.
The Indiana D.C.S reports 1,577 Hoosier children have been adopted so far in 2020. It is a drop from 2019’s 1,967 children adopted in the state. Director Terry Stigdon said in-person court COVID-19 restrictions were a factor in the drop but not a roadblock for most families like Kiley and Theresa Knoblouch, who were able to continue the process without stepping inside the Allen County Courthouse.
“We actually were on the phone with the judge and the attorneys here in our living room because we weren’t allowed in the courthouse,” said Kiley Knoblouch. “Nonetheless, I think it was a special day for, I think, them and for our family.”
Stigdon said a much bigger slow down was adjusting their pre-adoption process to health recommendations.
“That was a challenge when the pandemic hit,” said Stigdon. “You don’t want people in your home if they don’t have to be but you have to have that assessment of your home in order to move forward with the adoption and so that put us behind as well.”
For Indiana D.C.S. that meant a hybrid of in-person and virtual home visits with masks, social distancing, and hand hygiene. While the adjustment may have slowed down their process, Stigdon said they are not concerned about the slight dip in completed adoptions this year.
“If you look at our year-to-date numbers as of now compared to, not last year, but the year before you will see we’re still a little bit ahead of where we were the year before and so despite the pandemic we’re still moving along at a really good pace with adoptions.”
The process may have taken longer for some families but according to Stigdon Indiana D.C.S has not seen any adoptions fall through for pandemic-related reasons.