Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Adoption Is for All Ages, Not Just Babies

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Adoption Is for All Ages, Not Just Babies

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

Circuit Judge David Gooding is a busy man.

This week he was in Columbus, Ohio, to appear as a panelist at the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption Summit.

The summit, named after the founder of Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers, is held annually to examine ways to find permanent homes for children whose lives have been defined by transiency and instability.

Yet Gooding, who has presided over a record 1,500 adoptions, wasn't too busy to take a break to chat about how adoption has been catching on in Jacksonville, of how his efforts as well as those of Family Support Services of North Florida and other partner organizations are combining to redefine who an "adoptable" child is.

His answer? They all are.

"Adoption is not just for babies anymore," Gooding told me.

"Many times, young people want to adopt older children because they want to skip the potty training and late-night feedings. They're saints, in my opinion.

DISABLED CHILDREN

"I've had parents who've said they only want children who have disabilities ... I had a parent who adopted two amputee children. She said, 'I know what to do now, so I want more children who are amputees.'"

One effort that piques people's interest in adopting children is holiday-timed events like the recent one that Gooding presided over shortly before Mother's Day. According to The Times-Union, 24 children were adopted by 19 families.

Another adoption event will be held shortly before Father's Day next month.

"The media coverage of these adoption events make the phones ring off the hook," Gooding said. "Every line will be busy asking about adoption ..."

Lee Kaywork, CEO of Family Support Services, agreed.

"Over the next few days, we'll probably triple in inquiries for adoptions," Kaywork said.

But how does the agency screen out prospective adoptive parents who might be more moved by the adoption ceremonies and the holiday spirit than committed to the task of becoming adoptive parents - especially to special needs children? …

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