It is hard to imagine that 1,300 children are in Idaho’s foster care system.
November is National Adoption Month, and Idaho Youth Ranch is hoping to find foster and adoptive families who can provide stability and permanence for children in Idaho’s child welfare system by presenting an informational seminar, “Adoption: The Journey of a Lifetime.”
The seminar will be held at Kootenai Medical Center on Tuesday night at 6 p.m.
“When a child is united with a family, amazing things transpire – memories are made, challenges are overcome, and lives are enriched,” said Donna Euler, director of adoption and foster care services for Idaho Youth Ranch.
Topics of the seminar include infant adoption, international adoption, transracial adoption, special needs and adoption from the foster care system. The presentation will feature a panel of adoptive parents and the discussion will be facilitated by adoption professionals.
According to Euler, children enter foster care because of child abuse, neglect or family crisis.
The success of foster care is really dependent on organizations like Idaho Youth Ranch and individuals like Mark and Olwyn Wismer of Post Falls.
A foster family is licensed to provide temporary care for children who are in the custody of the state. The goal of foster care is to reunify families, but when this is not possible a child may need a family that will make a permanent commitment.
“When we discovered that we couldn’t have biological children we began to explore the idea of adoption,” said Olwyn Wismer, 28.
At first Olwyn and her husband, Mark Wismer, 30, tried private adoption. When that venture wasn’t successful, they took a look at the foster care program. After realizing the huge need, the Wismers made a commitment that they would provide a home to their foster children as long as the children needed one.
“Children need love regardless of their situation,” Olwyn Wismer said. “Each life is precious.”
After a positive experience as foster parents, the Wismers took the next step and adopted four children – Maggie, 18 months, Evie, 23 months, and siblings Victor, 11, Trinity, 4.
“What has made it possible for us,” said Wismer, “is the support group that we have with other foster parents, as well as very supportive adoptive grandparents.”
According to Euler, there are 300 licensed foster homes in Idaho’s five northernmost counties, but there is a need for more. Of the children who are adopted from the foster care system, about 70 percent are adopted by their foster parents.
Idaho Youth Ranch, a licensed nonprofit adoption agency, has worked with adoptive parents to provide advocacy, guidance and support since 1983.
“For the last 18 years we have partnered with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to help recruit, train and license foster and foster/adopt homes in the five northern counties,” Euler said.
Wismer stressed there is room in foster care for everybody, regardless of profession, and that the most important qualification is love.
“These children just want to be loved,” Wismer said. “Some have behavior issues stemming from broken hearts, but one at a time we see their behaviors change.”
She also agrees that the adoption process can be complex and overwhelming.
“Some people are afraid to adopt, but these children deserve our love regardless of our fears and there is lots of supportive help,” she said.