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Adoptions increase in Kan. after push by governor

Published on -10/30/2012, 4:03 PM

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Gov. Sam Brownback's emphasis on increasing adoptions in Kansas has been showing promising results, according to new state data.

The Kansas Department of Children and Families says 777 adoptions were finalized in Kansas in the 2012 fiscal year, and another 761 state adoptions were recorded in 2011. Those are increases from 721 in 2010, although not as high as the 816 in 2009, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/RmaZwT ).

Brownback, who has an adopted son and daughter, has made public adoptions a priority, and says the effort hasn't yet provided "forever families" for all the children who need homes.

"Adoption is a beautiful example of the power of family to change the course of a child's life," said Brownback, a Republican. "All children deserve to grow up with parents who love them and are committed to them."

In Kansas, adoptions that are organized through the state cost almost nothing, while private adoptions can cost up to $30,000. The state also provides free tuition to any state university, community college or vocational school for children adopted after age 16. Kansas allows single adults and gay couples to adopt.

On average, 879 children in state custody have been eligible for adoption during the past five years.

Gina Meier-Hummel, director of prevention and protection services at the Kansas Department for Children and Families, said there are about 900 children at some stage of having parental rights terminated and who will then begin moving through the adoption process. While most of these children have a foster parent or relative who intends to adopt them, nearly 400 don't have an adoptive relationship and live with that uncertainty.

"They don't know necessarily where they're going to sleep tomorrow, or where they're going to live in five years or who their parents are going to be," Meier-Hummel said.

She said there's no "perfect size or shape" of an adoptive family.

"It's really based on who has the heart to do this work and wants to take someone into their home, love them and care for them," Meier-Hummel said.

Dotty Estes, of North Topeka, gave birth to four children, completed adoptions of three children, and is preparing to adopt two more. She's also opened her home to kids in the state's foster care system.

"In the long run," Estes said, "I get just as much out of this as the kids. It is so rewarding."

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