KLICKS FOR KIDS — Photographs of children are showcased in many downtown Independence businesses to raise awareness of the many who are available for adoption through Adopt Kansas Kids. Taina Copeland | Staff Photo
KLICKS FOR KIDS — Photographs of children are showcased in many downtown Independence businesses to raise awareness of the many who are available for adoption through Adopt Kansas Kids. Taina Copeland | Staff Photo

Over half the children in foster care in Kansas are over the age of seven and originally come into foster care through no fault of their own — many times abuse and neglect is involved. Although the goal of foster care is to work with families toward safely returning the children to their home, sometimes that is not possible and that is when the professionals get involved to find families to adopt these children.   

The state of Kansas has two foster care contractors, KVC Behavioral Healthcare and St. Francis Community Services. Adopt Kansas Kids via the Kansas Children's Service League works with both contractors to find families to adopt the children. Many times the children are unable to return to their home and are adopted by other family members or foster parents but when no appropriate resource is found, they get referred to Adopt Kansas Kids. 

"We specifically work with just under 500 of those kids," said Community Relations manager for KCSL Corey Lada. "These are kids who are older, over the age of seven, part of a sibling group and/or have special needs. They are located in foster homes across the state of Kansas."

Lada said it can be much harder to find families for older children, especially teens and larger sibling groups, but that doesn't mean the Adopt Kansas Kids program will give up. He said many times people are unaware of the need for adoptive families and more specifically, the types of children who need to be adopted. 

Currently there are 471 Kansas children on the adoption exchange with 220 of them part of a sibling group and 261 of them are 13 years of age or older.

"We recruit families through various media sources like television, newspapers, social media, etc.," Lada explained. "One particular adoption recruitment initiative is the Klicks for Kids Heart Gallery which is a gallery of photographs taken by professional photographers statewide who donate their time and resources to take the photos."

The photographs are then set up in a "gallery" that travels the state throughout the year going to churches, businesses, libraries, shopping malls and basically anywhere there might be families around. "Many times the gallery serves as an introduction to adoption to people. When they see the gallery we want them to start thinking about adoption and how they might be able to do it, and then, hopefully when they are ready to take that first step, they call us."

Lada said families of all types adopt in Kansas. "You don't have to be married, you can be single," he stated. "You don't have to own your own home, you can rent, have an apartment or a trailer. And many families who adopt have modest incomes as this type of adoption is not like others — it costs little to nothing."

He explained a common myth of adoption is that it is expensive, but when you adopt a child out of foster care that is not the case. "Also there is help and support available pre- and post-adoption," Lada said. "You just need to be able to provide an appropriate, safe and loving home. Many older people are adopting, those over the age of 50 with grown children out of the home and there is a nationwide rise in single people adopting — including single men."

With the Klicks for Kids Heart Gallery, once the child is adopted their photo is pulled from the gallery and replaced with the photo of another child who needs a family. "We have had the Klicks for Kids Heart Gallery going since 2004," Lada said.

The gallery will be in place in Independence until Jan. 12. This is the third year the gallery has traveled to downtown Independence. "Years previous it traveled to the Independence Public Library a couple of times," he said. 

A successful adoptive parent must be able to care for, support and love a child who is not biologically your own, be stable and mature, dependable, flexible and maintain a sense of humor. Trauma Informed Partnering for Safety and Permanence - Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting is a mandatory class which helps determine whether adoption is right for you and it prepares you for your new role as an adoptive parent; it is free of charge and offered throughout the year. Post-adoption support and services are available for 12 months following finalization and other resources may be available such as support groups and ongoing training. 

So as you stroll through downtown Independence take a look at all the photographs of children who are seeking a place to call home and if it strikes your heart, visit Adopt Kansas Kids at adoptkskids.org to learn more about the adoption process, or call (877) 457-5430.