5,800: Texas children in foster care system who are eligible for adoption
77: Children in foster care system from Midland County
154: Children in foster care system from Ector County(Odessa)
84: Children from Ector County sent to foster homes in another region
44: Children from the region living in an emergency shelter
These children are NOT statistics, they are God's Children.....
"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act" ~Proverbs 24:12
**This Article is from the front page of the Nov 29th issue of the Midland Telegram Reporter**
Stephanie Green’s family just became a little bigger. The single mother of three spent the summer becoming a certified foster parent and a few weeks ago welcomed 10- and 6-year-old siblings. The schoolteacher already is raising a 15-, 11- and 10-year-old of her own. “We’re trusting God on this journey, and we’re excited to see where he takes us,” Green said. “I just feel sure they’re going to bless our lives more than we bless theirs.” Like other parents in the area, Green said she became interested in fostering after she realized how much need there was in Texas, particularly in the Permian Basin. Of the 631 foster children in the region as of Aug. 30, 385 — or more than 61 percent — were placed in homes outside of Region 9, according to the most recent data available from the Department of Family and Protective Services. Region 9 includes about 23 West Texas counties such as Midland, Ector, Gaines, Upton, Howard and Tom Green counties. In Midland-Odessa, 54.5 percent of children taken from the custody of their parents as of Aug. 30 were sent to homes or group placements in another region, according to DFPS. “We have one of the highest rates of kids being sent elsewhere. We just flat out don’t have enough families,” said John Petree, whose wife HollyAnn runs the adoption agency Addy’s Hope. Together the couple have four children and are caring for three foster children. To try and combat the issue, Addy’s Hope is holding a “Hope for Christmas: Holiday Tour of Homes” fundraiser on Saturday. Proceeds from the event will go toward paying the fees associated with becoming a foster parent, HollyAnn Petree said. “We have too many churches in Midland-Odessa to have kids living in orphanages,” HollyAnn Petree said. “I don’t think people know there’s a need and that it’s as drastic as it is.” The 15-year-old girl they welcomed this week and hope to adopt in the coming months, for example, has been in 11 placements in several different cities during the last three years. Green’s oldest foster child is in fourth grade and already has been in 20 schools, both because her parents moved around and because her foster placements have been so widespread. “They’re usually behind academically,” Green said. “They don’t know how to communicate their feelings very well; they have trust issues because of what they’ve been through.” When they’re sent to homes outside the region, children are forced to adjust to completely new surroundings, typically have less visitation with their biological parents and may see any siblings placed elsewhere less frequently, HollyAnn Petree said. If they’re closer to their original home, children have a better chance of getting through the process much smoother, whether it be through adoption or reunification with their mothers or fathers. “There’s a huge, huge need. You see little people not only being taken out of home, but being taken out of the area,” said Kellie Goss, who is a foster parent to two infants along with her husband Shannan. “We just need more families to stand in the gap.” Goss said one of their foster children is able to have regular visitations with his mom mostly because they were able to keep him in Midland.
Statewide, Child Protective Services is working to improve the rate at which children are able to remain near their home. The agency will release its outline for redesigning the placement system at the close of the year. Even with a new system, the Petrees said there just aren’t enough families in Midland-Odessa. They’re hoping Addy’s Hope will help improve those numbers by covering some of the “hidden costs” associated with becoming foster parents. It’s those costs, they say, that can delay the process of parents being able to accept kids. To go through the training courses, background checks and other necessary steps typically cost about $500, HollyAnn Petree said. If a home needs a significant improvement to meet state standards, or even just additional smoke detectors and fences, that cost can go up. Still, the parents involved stress that while foster families are needed, it’s a commitment individuals should understand and carefully consider before entering into. -Kathleen Thurber MRT
“On our absolute worst day of dealing with problems and things like that, it is a thousand times worth it when you tuck those little people into bed each night,” Kellie Goss said.
6 to 9 p.m. Saturday Dec. 4th
Tickets available at each home or at Chick-fil-A, Edible Arrangements and Miss Cayce’s Christmas Store