HOUSTON – November is National Adoption Awareness Month.
In Texas, there are nearly 3,000 children in state custody ready to find their forever family. Of those, about 400 are in the Houston area.
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Among those who wait the longest, are children with special needs and over 6-years-old.
The Mathews-Zetts family changed that for 2-year-old Jesus.
“He feels like he’s always been part of our family,” said Jennifer Zetts, Jesus’ mother.
On Tuesday, it became official in a Galveston County Courtroom. Jesus’ 6 siblings were there to witness their family grow by one more.
“He is the second [child] that we’ve adopted now,” said Aaron Mathews, Jesus’ father. “And, we just felt like we had love to give and our kids have grown tremendously with it. There’s always room for more love.”
Jesus was placed with the family when he was 7-months-old. Jennifer and Aaron admit the journey has not been easy. Jesus’ medical needs are many. He has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and his blind.
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However, they have found support with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and the agency’s non-profit partners.
“We’re going to help with resources. Even after that child is adopted especially special needs children,” said Michele Broussard, Foster/Adopt Recruitment Specialist with DFPS.
Broussard expresses there is a misconception that adoptions are costly.
She says while private adoptions can be expensive, the costs to adopt a child in state custody are minimal. Additionally, she says there are subsidies available for eligible families.
She says the first step for those interested in adopting or fostering should attend a meeting.
“Some of that is going to training — learning about children that are abused and neglected, and then basically doing a home study,” Broussard explained.
She adds the length it takes to complete an adoption varies. It takes approximately 8 weeks to begin the process from the time someone completes the class, paperwork, and home study.
Next, a caseworker will help match the families with a child. Then, it takes about 6 months to commensurate an adoption.
Groups like the Galveston County Adoption Day Foundation help families navigate the legal process and costs.
“Our foundation steps in to provide volunteer services of court staff and attorneys so that the adoptions can be finalized to help create forever families,” said board member, Doryn Glenn.
Jennifer says Jesus wasn’t expected to survive after he was born. “He’s overcome a lot,” she stated. But, she says, he’s shown that with love he can thrive.
“Kids are resilient and if they have the will and the fight to live, plus a loving home,” Jennifer said. “He’s capable of anything.”
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Prospective parents can meet the children available for adoption online.