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Lake Area gets high marks for adoption process

Last Modified: Sunday, July 07, 2013 7:14 PM

By Johnathan Manning / American Press

The Lake Charles area is second in the state in the timeliness in which it completes adoptions, state and local officials said.

Forty-six percent of adoptions in the Lake Charles area are completed in less than 24 months — the timetable the federal government suggests — which is second in the state behind New Orleans, Trey Williams, communications director for the state Department of Children and Family Services, said.

From the date of custody, adoptions in Calcasieu usually take about 20 to 23 months to complete, Cathy Michiels, regional administrator for DCFS, said.

New Orleans completes 65 percent of its adoptions within the 24-month timeframe, while Covington is third with a 31 percent rate, Shreveport and Alexandria have a 28 percent rate and Lafayette 25 percent, Williams said.

The Lake Charles region encompasses Calcasieu, Cameron, Beauregard, Allen and Jeff Davis parishes, Michiels said.

According to information on the DCFS website, families who want to adopt a child in state custody must first be certified, then the child must live in the home for six months before the adoption can be filed.

Louisiana leads the nation in the timeliness in which it completes adoptions, Williams said.

“That’s something that Louisiana does very well,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu nominated 14th Judicial District family court Judge Guy Bradberry as an “Angel in Adoption” in 2012, an award for which he was recognized nationally.

“It’s just about leadership and just about the common decency that every child deserves a family,” Landrieu, co-chairman of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, said. “It’s as simple as that.”

Landrieu said that while domestic adoptions have increased, the number of international adoptions have dropped off, although there is still a need.

Bradberry and Michiels said the area’s timeliness in completing adoptions is the result of a team effort.

“It’s the great communication between the foster care workers, the adoptions workers and attorneys all working together to get these kids in homes,” said Bradberry.

Bradberry said he was glad to see adoption and social workers recognized for the work they do.

“DCFS is usually criticized for what they do, but they have to intervene in trauma,” he said. “Their experienced and committed adoption and home development workers have been phenomenal.”

Over the past nine months, 69 adoptions have been completed in the Lake Charles region, Michiels said.

“Our goal is a forever family, whether that is back with their family or permanent placement through adoption,” Michiels said. “When a child comes into our care, of course we want them to go back to their family if possible, but we also know that’s not always the best option.”

Michiels said she believes there are several reasons that the Lake Charles region is able to complete adoptions under the national timeline.

The early involvement and good communication of all involved parties ­— whether social workers, adoption workers, or attorneys — on a case.

“They know the case from the beginning, practically,” Michiels said. “This allows adoption workers to be sure when a case does come to them, they have all the adoption papers.”

When seeking foster homes for children, DCFS workers look “for a family that will not only foster them, but also might be willing to adopt,” Michiels said.

Local judges who are “committed to the best outcome for the children.”

Michiels said that includes the willingness to terminate parentage from the children’s birth parents if necessary.

“No one wants to terminate parental rights without proper consideration,” she said. “However, when it becomes obvious that termination is the appropriate decision, our judges are willing to make the hard calls.”

Michiels said organizations such as Trinity Baptist Church spread the word for the need for adoptive parents. She said Trinity sponsors a Heart Gallery — photos of children in need of homes — that moves to different churches.

“We are very lucky in that within our DCFS family and within the community and with the judges and private attorneys, we all work well together,” Michiels said.

Posted By: Lou Ann Haught On: 7/8/2013

Title: Adoption

My grandson lost his daughter to foster parents even after asking monthly about family taking the children. His father came here from TN. a month after s*** started. That was ignored! The worker said that would never happen. I even heard her telling my grandson whild on the speaker phone, no matter what he did, he would not get the children. My great grandson was passed through about 12 foster homes. That made him unadopted, thank God, so my grandson got custody back and lost his five year old daughter. Oh did I mention he gave the workers a list of family members that would take the children. I consisted of his dad in TN and "FOUR" uncles and his grandmother. When you want the truth, don't ask state workers or ministers that are involved, interview the "FAMILY MEMBERS"!!!!! Are they going to seperate boy and girl siblings because that is considered mixed company?? I the grandmother, born in the stupid state of LA. will be moving ASAP. My recommedation to all people living in La, especially in Calcasieu parish, if you have kids,grandchildren, great grandchildren under the age of 18, M O V E !!!!!!

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