July 13, 2007 - Posted at 7:39 p.m. CDT
CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR -- Choosing to become a parent is a very big decision...and making the choice to adopt can change both your life and the life of a child in so many ways.
There are more than half a million children in foster care in the United States and of those, 119,000 are waiting to be adopted. But one Region 8 family says here in Arkansas the experience has been anything but easy.
The Vore family first decided to adopt through the Arkansas Department of Human Services four years ago when they brought home two little boys, half-brothers, they thought their family was complete.
"The father showed up in the 11th hour and was able to convince them that he didn't received the services from DHS and so they couldn't terminate on the older child," said adoptive father Michael Vore.
Three and a half months later, their family was torn apart. The experience took an emotional toll, putting their son through two years of counseling.
"I'm honest with people, I swore I would never go back through DHS again," said Vore, "It was such a hard thing the first time we did it."
But the family did decide to adopt again, and are currently in the process of trying to bring two more boys into their home. But it's not without obstacles.
"Since we had adopted in the last five years, we were under the Streamline Adoption Act," said Vore, "The whole process for us should have taken 45 days from start to finish. We were just approved last week after 18 weeks."
The Vore family joined the Adoption Coalition and spear headed a focus group to help diagnose problems with DHS. They are now working with DHS to form a council to help improve the adoption process.
"We've heard stories of people waiting years to finalize adoptions, waiting two years just to get their house open through the process," said Vore, "These are the things in my opinion that shouldn't be happening."
DHS confirms that only 39% of the children available were adopted last year and only 46 homes received placement.
"In the physical year 2006, there were actually 724 children available for adoption and I believe 281 were placed in an adoptive home. That leaves 443 children that were in the system at the end of the physical year. At that same time period, there were 246 homes open in the state of Arkansas," said Vore.
While the Vore family hopes to eventually expand, they believe DHS must change in order to serve the greater good.
"The whole purpose of this is to make sure that more children are placed out of DHS custody into homes. I think everybody agrees that the state, the government should not be raising children if we can find anyway at all to keep that from happening, we need to," said Vore.