By Kelly Shank –
Have you ever wondered how children find their way to Dorie’s Promise? We want to help you understand the process that brings children into our home.
There are many different paths our children take before eventually living at Dorie’s Promise. Some of them were abandoned as infants. Others were given up by parents who simply couldn’t provide for them. Too many were rescued from abuse. The common themes in each child’s story are loss and trauma. From the moment children enter our home, we become the protectors of their rights and well-being.
The Beginning of their Journey:
We never know when we might get a call asking us to consider accepting a new child. We’ve received emergency placements in the middle of the night before but most children come into our care as a result of the normal family court proceedings. Based on a home’s location and the level of specialized care needed for a particular child, social workers reach out to the directors of private orphan care homes in hopes of finding a placement before turning to government facilities.
When Alejandra, our director, receives one of these calls, she must determine if Dorie’s Promise is able to provide the best care for a new child without sacrificing the care being received by the children already living in our home. Our homes are divided by gender so one of the first factors she considers is if we have room in that specific house.
Additionally, we consider the age of children who enter our home. As a general rule, we take children up to 8 years old. Why only eight years old? We are committed to making long-term commitments with the children who enter our home so we try to accept children who may be with us for an extended period of time. Lastly, she also considers the special needs of the child, whether physical, mental, or emotional, to determine if we have sufficient resources for a new child.
Navigating the Courts during Their Stay:
As we mentioned, once a child enters our care we represent their interests in court. Jessica, our Legal Assistant, represents them at all court hearings, prepares reports, and is responsible for keeping our staff aware of the legal status of each child’s case.
Between thirty-five and forty children live in our home at any time. You might have noticed that there aren’t thirty-five to forty children on our Sponsor Page. The gap occurs because we only include Permanent Placements in our Sponsor bios. Children in our sponsorship program are Permanent Placements because either their parental rights have been terminated or they have been determined by the courts to be with us long-term.
Every child enters our home as a temporary placement, similar to the foster care program. Through the court process social workers determine if the children could potentially be reunited with their biological parents or other relatives. About 40% of the children in our home are eventually reunited with their biological parents or other family members. We appreciate the deep connections our children have with their biological families and are excited when parents are able to complete the court-ordered reunification programs and establish healthy homes for their families.
Unfortunately, in the majority of our cases, biological families are unable to make the changes necessary to provide a safe home for their children. In those instances, parental rights can be terminated and a judge can declare the child adoptable. Afterward, the National Council for Adoptions (CNA in Guatemala) works to match children with potential Guatemalan adoptive families*.
Each child’s case is unique. Although the designation of temporary or permanent might sound like a simple decision, unfortunately it isn’t. Some of the children in our home have been here as temporary foster placements for many years, caught between parents who desire to be in their lives and the reality that they are not able to provide for them. In contrast, some of our permanent, “adoptable” children have also been here for many years as well. Often, older children and sibling groups are not easily matched with adoptive families.
Our Promise to These Children:
Heather Radu, our founder, decided many years ago that we were committed to long-term involvement in the lives of our children. Thus, we accept younger children who may be in our care for a decade or more, giving us the best opportunity to help them become successful adults. This is also why we take some of the hardest placements, those with disabilities and sibling groups.
We believe in giving our absolute best to every child in our home, no matter their placement status. We choose to stand in the gap of their lives, love them, lead them, and help them heal.
* International Adoption from Guatemala closed in 2008