YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – November is National Adoption Month, and currently there are more than 4,000 children in Ohio waiting for a “forever family.”
Erica Whittaker planned to adopt a younger child until her family fell in love with two boys who are now her sons. She and her husband have two biological children of their own but wanted to do more to help foster children.
So, two years ago, her family turned to Northeast Ohio Adoption Services (NOAS), through which they found a 15-year-old and 11-year-old.
“At first we only wanted little kids but then I fell in love with these brothers and wanted to bring them to our home,” Whittaker said.
After going through the adoption process, the family finally became official.
“I couldn’t imagine them not being with us, I mean, it’s like they were meant to be a part of our family and I just love them to pieces,” Whittaker said.
The process isn’t always easy, but Whittaker says it’s completely worth it because of what you gain — family.
As executive director of NOAS, Cheryl Tarantino is there every step of the way in the adoption process. She agrees that the bumps in the road are well worth it in the end.
“There’s that physical sigh of relief from the children that someone is making a permanent connection to them and they don’t have to wonder where they’re going to be tomorrow — that’s the magic moment right there,” she said.
Tarantino says teenagers can be tough to place, but it’s especially important for them to have a loving home and a family who can help them grow into adulthood.
“Now is the time. The heroin and opiate epidemic has brought so many kids into care. There’s over 15,000 in temporary custody. Many will need adoptive homes and there’s just not enough families coming forward,” she said.
Tarantino thinks the two biggest misconceptions about adoption are that it’s expensive and that parents think they’re too old to adopt. She says neither are the case.
In honor of National Adoption Day, which is Saturday, NOAS is celebrating Thanksgiving with local families who have adopted through them.
To learn more about the adoption process, visit NOAS’ website.