Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A different type of christmas gift

By Vicky Scott

This year, 104,000 children are in need of a very special Christmas gift; the gift of a home. The U.S. foster care system in Plattsburgh is looking for people to give this gift this season.  
Prospective adoptive families don't have to have a lot of money or own their home. Parents can be married or single. A prospective adoptive family must demonstrate that they can provide a permanent home for a child or a sibling group, and they can provide a safe environment and support the child’s physical health, mental health, and educational and social needs. Could you be the perfect parent to one of them?
Breanna Miller, a senior at SUNY Plattsburgh with a 4.0 GPA in the hospitality, tourism and restaurant management program, was in foster care until the age of 5, when she was adopted by Jamie and Brian Miller. Breanna was only placed in two other homes before she met Jamie and Brian. During Breanna’s time with them, her birth parent’s parental rights were terminated and she was eligible for adoption. After spending over a year with her, Jamie and Brian knew they wanted to make her a permanent member of the Miller family.
“It was a lot of paperwork and course work to ensure we knew what we were signing up for; it was certainly worth it,” said Jamie. Brian explained the process took 15 months between the orientation, preparation classes and home study requirements but was easier because Breanna was already in their home as a foster child, making the transition smoother.
Martine Lamar, a retired police officer, explained that transitions from home to home are usually not as smooth when there are serious custody issues or the child has experienced abuse from their original home. “I can not tell you how many times I was called to locate a missing child who was in foster care and ran away from home. It is very disheartening, they need some place they feel safe and welcome,” said Lamar. Foster care and adoption are not for everyone, said Lamar, which is why it is crucial for people to undergo the orientation and classes to fully understand what it is like to bring another person into their family.
If the experience is poor for the child, the behaviors at home will carry over into their school day.
Chelsea Strong, a childhood education major at SUNY Plattsburgh, has experienced this first hand. While she has worked in a handful of the local schools, she has noticed which children have been struggling academically and socially because of tension at home. “We do everything we can for them while at school so they can feel accepted and safe. We are aware of the students who are in foster care or are in the process of being adopted and we do our best to make the transition smooth for them in the classroom,” said Strong.
“I was so lucky to have a smooth transition from foster care to being adopted,” said Breanna, “you don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.” Jamie and Brian helped Breanna get involved in basketball and lacrosse at a young age and would help her with homework after family dinners. The Miller family visited Plattsburgh and Breanna has been excelling since she arrived. Brian said, “We are very proud of everything Brea has accomplished; we are proud to call her our daughter.”


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