Adoptions kickoff event set for Milligan College

By Greg Miller
STAR STAFF

   Christian Children's Homes of Tennessee (CCHT), joint venture of Family Consultants of Elizabethton and Christian Children's Home of Ohio (CCHO), will host a free adoptions kickoff event at Milligan College on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
   Larry J. Rose, LCSW, Director of Tennessee Ministries for CCHT, will be among the program presenters. The event will be held in the Wilson Lecture Hall in Milligan College's science building.
   "We will be talking a little bit about who we are, but a whole lot about who the children are," Rose commented.
   "People will have opportunities to see photos and short biographies on children, both in Tennessee and Ohio, who are available for adoption today. If someone decides that they want to take the next step in the process, they can leave that day with an initial application. If they are unsure, they can simply leave with some information.
   "This is only a kickoff. After this, I hope to almost on a regular basis approach churches, Sunday school groups and other groups about our need. One goal that we have, because we are connected with a Christian agency, is we are seeking families who are faith friendly in that respect. We are looking for families, not necessarily denominationally, but who are willing to commit to raising the child in a Christian home. We're not going do a strong litmus test, but we will ask a person to tell us about their faith."
   "When many people think of adoption, they think of infants," said Rose. "Realistically, not a lot of infants are available for adoption these days, but there are tens of thousands of kids across the country who are available for adoption and have no adoptive homes. It may be because of their age, meaning school age or above. It may be that there's some kind of disability or handicapping condition. It may be because they're part of a sibling group that comes as a group.
   "Regardless of circumstances, people don't always think of adoption in terms of a child that's an infant. We're trying to promote this idea, both for children in Tennessee and for children in other states, including Ohio, in which Christian Children's Homes of Ohio (CCHO) has its base." CCHT is an outreach of CCHO.
   "The older a child, the more important it is to view the adoption almost as you do as a marriage," Rose said. "Can you live with this person? Can you accept this person and be happy with this person as who they are today if nothing changes at all? If you can do that, it's probably going to be successful. If you can't be accepting of that child or that teen-ager as to who they are right now, and you're thinking, 'I'm going to change them,' then you've got trouble."
   Rose says those who are interested in adopting a child should "should find out more for themselves. That's part of what the event Sunday is to do. If they remain interested, it's a matter of filling out applications for the home study, in terms of financial information. We're interested in knowing whether they're able to make ends meet."
   Next, comes "the home study process in which I or another member of our staff meets with the family individually and as a couple or as a family if there are other children involved," Rose said.
   Prospective adoptive parents, Rose notes, are provided with a minimum of 30-35 hours of training. "This training centers on things from the adoption process legally, child development, expectations in that regard, how to deal with those questions that come up with a child who's adopted -- such as questions about their origin, and many other questions," he said.
   Prospective adoptive parents should have the following characteristics: Flexibility, acceptance, and willingness to set and enforce limits. "All of those are important," Rose said. "But the key factor there is, you have to be able to love that child, even if it's hard to like them sometimes."
   From the time the prospective parents begin the process until they complete the home study program and training could take 2-3 months. "At that point, it's a matter of finding the child that can best benefit from their home," Rose said. "I want to emphasize this. As much as we talk about the adoptive parents and the adoptive family, our goal is finding the best home for the child, not the best child for the home."
   From the beginning of the process until the adoption is finalized could take a year or longer, according to Rose. The cost of many adoptions could range from $5,000-15,000, however the costs of adopting special needs children are minimal or nonexistent for the adoptive family. Adoption expenses, up to $6,000, may be tax deductible, Rose said. "It's not only a deduction. It's a tax credit, which is much better than a deduction, because it comes off the top."
   About one year ago, the agency purchased a large building in Ukraine. "They're renovating it right now," Rose said. "It will become an orphanage for children. It is one of the first non-state run orphanages in that country.
   "They also have a program there called Project SASHA, a feeding program for homeless children who are on the street. They just come out of everywhere during the day. Project SASHA is providing a hot meal five days a week for those children, anywhere from seven or eight years old on up."
   In the near future, the agency hopes to have offices in Kentucky and Virginia.
   For more information, or to schedule Rose to speak for your church or organization, call 542-4245.