Foster caring leads to adoption for some

Gloria Baker (left) of Springville tells Kari Filer of Tunkhannock about her experiences providing foster care to needy children during the adoption awareness information session at the Tunkhannock library Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/VIRGINIA CODY

BY VIRGINIA CODY

Gloria Baker of Springville found her calling when she was 48 years old.

That was when she had the good fortune to retire from the business world and volunteer her time as a foster mother.

“It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she said during Saturday’s adoption awareness program at the Tunkhannock library.

Baker, along with representatives of Wyoming County Human Services, Catholic Social Services, the Friendship House, andSt. Joseph’s Center, were on hand to answer questions posed by prospective foster and adoptive parents.

During the eight years she’s been fostering, Baker said she’s had at least 10 children stay with her.  Some of them stayed for just a few days while the Court sorted out the details of their care.  Some stayed for up to two years.  And one little girl in particular became Baker’s forever child.

That little girl is Emily.  At the age of five months, Emily was placed with Baker and her husband Jim by Wyoming County Children and Youth.

She had come with a slew of major health problems, Baker said.

“ButWyomingCounty(Human Services) was so up front.  They told us the child had a lot of medical issues.”

Emily, she said, arrived in her home wearing a heart and lung monitor and had had serious brain bleeds stemming from her premature birth.

“I didn’t start foster care in order to adopt,” Baker said.

But when Emily came up for adoption and Wyoming County Human Services asked her if she wanted to keep Emily permanently, Baker said she and her husband jumped at the opportunity.

Now four years old, Baker said Emily’s medical problems are, for the most part, history.

And, Baker was proud to say, she’ll be a featured miracle on the Children’s Miracle Network June 2.

Patty Skrynski, director of Human Services in the county, said that her agency treasures the foster parents she’s encountered.

“They’re a gift to us.  Foster parents are very special people.  They have a calling.”

Skrynski said that children generally end up in foster care due to serious abuse and neglect within their own homes.

More than 20,000 children inPennsylvaniaare in foster care.

Nine of them live inWyomingCounty, Skrynski said.

But not all of those children will be put up for adoption.

“It has to be estimated the court that the goal is adoption,” she said.

Once that goal is established, she said, notification is made to the child’s biological parents that their rights are to be severed.

After that, the adoption process is fairly smooth, she said.

Skrynski said that Children and Youth relies on the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network to do in-depth home studies and match children with new parents.

In the last year, her agency has finalized five adoptions.

“And two are pending,” she added.

Kari McCormick Filer, who visited the awareness program with her three daughters in tow, said she isn’t sure whether adoption or fostering would be better for her and her family.

But, she said, she’d always wanted five children and she’s prepared to look at all the options.

Baker said that with foster care, “you could fall in love with the child and then the child goes back home.”

“That would be tough,” Filer said, adding that her husband expressed just that concern.

Baker said she had, in fact, had to return children to their biological parents after caring for them for two years.

“You know what I did,” she asked.  “I made sure I got to know the parents.  Now, we can still see the children.”

Filer noted that one of her biggest problems with the whole process was that her two younger daughters are in a disagreement about how old a new foster or adoptive brother or sister should be.

“We’re having some ‘age specific’ issues right now,” she said.

But, she said, she brought her daughters with her to the adoption awareness event so they could ask all the questions they might have about the process.

“This is a family decision,” she said.