DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – With the holiday season upon us, many Americans tend to find themselves in a giving spirit. One group that could use some extra love and support this year is children in the foster care system.
President and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Rita Soronen, said there are currently around 3,000 children in foster care in Ohio, and now more than ever, is the perfect time to consider helping.
“Children in foster care are already feeling vulnerable — perhaps, isolated. They’re grieving the loss of their family. They’re not necessarily seeing the people that they want to see. And then the pandemic hit and what have been routine family visits or connections with school friends…all of those other connections they had to build up when they moved in the foster care [system] were instantly severed as well.”
Intensifying the situation, Soronen said certain children in the foster care system are at higher risk for catching COVID, and a lack of family interactions due to the virus and living arrangements can make the holidays seem dreary. But Miami Valley residents Michael and Renee Goldenbogen said going through the adoption process has been two rewards in one, with a local child entering a warm and safe home, and two proud parents happy to guide their third child into adulthood.
“It’s been an absolute blessing to us,” said Renee Goldenbogen.
After hearing about his case through a recruiter for the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program, a branch of the Dave Thomas Foundation, the Goldenbogens immediately began the process of adopting Jayden, who is also Renee’s second cousin. The couple said they went through intensive training and home visits in preparation of bringing their now 13-year-old home. They said it feels like he’s been around since the beginning, a blessing they hope other families will take the necessary steps to experience.
Renee Goldenbogen explained, “I’d encourage families to do it if they have any idea of doing it, or go to meetings to find out more so it’s not so scary.”
In addition to providing a home for children in the community, Soronen said moving children out of foster care provides fiscal savings for the state and offers older children increased stability as they transition into adulthood. But even those who aren’t ready to adopt can still contribute to the well-being of children just a few miles away.
“Not everybody is ready to be an adoptive parent and you know, and we don’t expect that that’s the case,” said Sorenen. “But there are always ways to volunteer, again, particularly [if] they connect with their local child welfare agency, their local adoption agency. Around this time of year there are typically holiday gift drives for families to help them, holiday food drives to help, particularly during the pandemic when so many folks are compromised economically.”
She said donating to nonprofits that support foster children or entering mentorship programs are alternative ways to help children who may be enduring a rough time this season. But the best gift, said the Goldenbogens, is the gift of family.
“I mean I know it’s all about the children.” said Michael. “But everybody always says what a blessing we are to him and it’s not that way,” Renee continued. “We don’t feel that way, it’s the other way around.”
For more information about adoption and foster care in your area, click the links below.