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Panhandle adoptions exceed expectations: over 500 Children find ‘Forever homes”

If we’re lucky, at some point in our lifetimes we will meet “the one.”

Maybe it is the puppy at the back of the cage. One look and you know.

Maybe it is the too-loud goof at the party, but somehow, you know he was meant for you.

Or, as Kathy Donofro, the NWF Health Network’s Adoption Manager says, “I believe there is a family for every person without one. And when you find “your Person — your One,” things will just feel right.”

Donofro is the longest serving adoption specialist in the state. This is her 41st year in child welfare and 27th year in child adoptions, and she has seen interest in the process of expanding one’s family to include one or more others wax and wane.

If we’re lucky, at some point in our lifetimes we will meet “the one.”

Maybe it is the puppy at the back of the cage. One look and you know.

Maybe it is the too-loud goof at the party, but somehow, you know he was meant for you.

Or, as Kathy Donofro, the NWF Health Network’s Adoption Manager says, “I believe there is a family for every person without one. And when you find “your Person — your One,” things will just feel right.”

Donofro is the longest serving adoption specialist in the state. This is her 41st year in child welfare and 27th year in child adoptions, and she has seen interest in the process of expanding one’s family to include one or more others wax and wane.

However, this year, Mike Watkins, CEO of the NWF Health Network says that they are thrilled that “the Panhandle region consisting of 16 counties has exceeded all expectations in the number of its 2022-2023 finalized adoptions. We have seen 526 adopted youth going to their forever homes.”

Statewide, nearly 3,600 adoptions were recorded in the last year, but perhaps these local numbers were the result not only of dedicated, skilled, and intuitive case workers like Donofro, but also of an organizational structure which actually seems to be working.

Addressing needs of children

In 2002, per the Florida legislature’s initiative to improve child protection services and utilize community-based care as the vehicle to offer services and solutions, Big Bend Community Care, which included Camelot Community Care, the Children’s Home Society, and DISC Village came together to form the 501C3 NWF Health Network.

Today, Twin Oaks Juvenile Development and Families First Network are also part of the wide reaching, services-providing matrix that serves families at so many levels. From substance abuse to mental health support, child abuse protection, extended foster care, and adoption services, the needs of Florida’s children are addressed.

So what is the adoptive process like? What is it like merging families, interests, and expectations with young people who might have been traumatized? What is it like to be telephoned on Aug. 2 that a child has come up for placement, and by Aug. 4 taking custody of not only a newborn girl — but her twin brother as well?

Ready for the call

Three years ago, Emily Buckley, a then 29-year-old single woman with a good job, supportive parents, and a desire to be a mother had just finished the required 12-week online courses to do foster care in her home. She had received the Level One license and had equipped her house with a crib, car seat, and other readiness items to accept a child on short notice.

Full Article Here

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