Niagara Gazette

Niagara Living

October 3, 2008

A HOME OF MY OWN: Adopting and foster kids in Niagara

JOE EBERLE/STaff Photographer

MAPPING ABUSE: Burt Marshall, director of Niagara County Social Services, shows a map detailing suspected child abuse cases. Reports are expected to be at 3,000 this year, compared to 2,700 last year. When children are taken from parents who won’t try to change abusive situations, they are eventually put up for adoption.

Andrea Clare/Contributor

ALL IN THE FAMILY: The Haag Family of Appleton includes, front row from left, Donavan, 11, Michala, 10, Olivia, 4 months, and Hannah, 7; back row, Terence, 12, Michael, 15, Felicia, 17, Zachary, 12, Daryl and wife Jennifer. The Haags adopted Donavan, Terence, Michael and Felicia. They have three foster children in their home (who cannot be shown) and hope to adopt more children in the future.

A home of my own

Success stories: A look at how children are fostered and adopted through Niagara County’s protective services

By Michele DeLuca

It sometimes seems like the only thing people know about orphans is what they see in musicals like “Annie” or “Oliver Twist.”

The reality is that there are hundreds of children looking for families in New York state. The local library can provide an armload of catalogs in which children’s photos are organized by age, gender, race and medical needs.

Computer users can access that same information online through New York’s Adoption Service photo album. A recent Web site check showed almost 500 faces of children who are without parents of their own.

The situation is a little different in Niagara County, where, on a recent day, there were 22 children in the process of being “freed” for adoption but virtually no children available for adoption.

“We do good in this county,” said Burt Marshall, director of Social Services. “We find families for all our children.”

“Two things make a difference,” he said. “The caseworkers go out and put in the actual labor to find the families to match up to the children. Other counties don’t make the effort. They may just list the children in the blue books. We’re going to fairs and adoption exchanges. We go all over looking for families.”

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