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Fourteen children to unite with “Forever Families” at mass adoption

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Treka Engleman, center, adopted Mercedes, Alexis and Elijah. Photo provided

By Brian Gregg

Hamilton County Job & Family Services

Fourteen children were adopted into eight families Friday, November 1, as part of Hamilton County Job and Family Services’ 13th annual mass adoption ceremony to celebrate National Adoption Month.

The ceremony was held in Judge Ralph Winkler’s Hamilton County Probate Court.

While adoption finalizations are normally confidential, the families agreed to publicize the ceremony to help promote adoption. The ceremony was open to the media and live-streamed over the Internet for all to see. Visit www.hckids.org for more information on the livestream and the families involved in the ceremony.

Annually, November marks National Adoption Month, a time to celebrate the joy of adoption and raise awareness of the more than 100,000 children awaiting adoption in the nation’s child welfare systems. In Hamilton County, more than 400 foster children await adoption on any given day.

Also, former State Sen. Eric Kearney of Cincinnati originated a bill that passed the Ohio General as Adoption Day in Ohio.

For the past 13 years, Hamilton County Job & Family Services has timed a mass adoption ceremony to occur during National Adoption Awareness Month. This year’s ceremony included children ranging in age from not-quite 1 to 16. The children have all experienced some level of childhood abuse and/or neglect. They joined new families in an emotional ceremony and celebrated afterwards with their caseworkers, court-appointed advocates, extended families and other people special to their lives.

Annabella was adopted by Jennifer and Jeremy Kihnke. Jeremy is holding her in this photo, with her mom at back right. Photo provided

“This is a joyous day of celebration for these children – their first step to permanency and a forever home,” said Moira Weir, director of the county’s Job & Family Services department. “This emotional ceremony is a wonderful beginning for them and a tremendous ending for the children’s services workers and other supporters who have worked so hard to provide these children with a better life. We see a lot of sad stories working in the field of child abuse. Not today. We are thrilled to celebrate the positive side of our work.”

Many of the children are being adopted by kinship or foster parents. Here are their stories:

· Ivy, 4, was adopted by her foster mother, who has cared for Ivy since the day she was born.

· Her aunt, who took her in after a short stay in foster care, adopted Annabella, 4.

· Abigail, 7, and William, 2, permanently join their foster family after more than two years in their care. There will now be four children in the home

· Jada, 1, and Janiya, 2, are permanently joining their foster family of three.

· Elijah, 2, was adopted by the foster mother who has cared for him since birth. She is also adopting two sisters, Alexis, 12, and Mercedes, 16.

· Lea, 7, and Michael, 6, were adopted by their foster parents, who took them in earlier this year after a kinship arrangement did not work out.

· Eli, 1, was adopted by the same family that adopted his older biological brother, Lucas, in 2018.

· Carter, 9, and Caden, 5, was adopted by their step grandfather.

Ivy was adopted by Sarah Gladding. Photo provided

Hamilton County investigated nearly 9,000 reports of child abuse and neglect last year and worked with nearly 20,000 abused and neglected children. If those children cannot remain safe with their family or a relative, the agency may be granted permanent custody of the child and asked to find a permanent family for them. So far this year, 201 children have been adopted from the agency’s care. Friday’s ceremony will push the number of adoptions over last year’s record of 208.

“The children available for adoption come from a variety of backgrounds, neighborhoods, economic circumstances and living situations, ‘Weir said. “They may have varying levels of medical, emotional or behavioral problems. They all bring their own personalities, strengths, interests and gifts. But they all have one thing in common: the desire for a loving family and sense of permanency.’’

Any Ohio resident over 18 years old is eligible. Those interested in adopting or becoming foster parents can learn more at www.hckids.org or by calling 513 632-6366 or e-mailing adoption@jfs.hamilton-co.org.

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