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Approximately 11,843 children are living in some type of foster care setting in Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Many have spent their lives in this "temporary" situation and have moved within the child welfare system more times than they care to remember.

As of Nov. 11, there were 2,569 children in foster care with a goal of adoption, the DHS said.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month, and students in the Social Work Practice II class at East Central University will set up a table in the University Center on Wednesday [NOV. 19] to provide information on adoption.

"These are very real children who desperately need families of their own," said Amy Yarbrough, one of the students in the class. "Because the public is so often unaware of these kids and their needs, we would like to draw attention to waiting children during National Adoption Awareness Month in the hope that we can unite many of these young people with permanent adoptive parents."

The students and advocates from other organizations are working to prove that there is no such thing as an unadoptable child. The waiting children come from a variety of backgrounds, Yarbrough said. Some have physical or mental disabilities, some are part of a sibling group, some are of African American, Native American or Latino heritage. Many are older children and adolescents.

Those who are thinking of adoption, Yarbrough pointed out, should know that adoption has changed significantly over the past 30 years. Adoptive parents do not have to be married, childless, rich or own a house. They do have to provide a stable, loving home and be able to help their adopted child work through issues raised by his or her past.

During the state's fiscal year from July 1, 2007, through June 30, 2008, 1,676 adoptions were authorized in Oklahoma, the DHS reported. That means all the work has been done, the child is legally free, a family has been selected and DHS workers are authorized to present the child to the family and begin pre-placement visits.

Pre-placement visits are not needed in cases where children already are placed in a home for foster care or relative placement, which is about 80 percent of the placements. Only 20 percent of adoptive placements are with families who are not known to the child, the DHS said.

During the federal fiscal year from Oct. 1, 2007, through last Sept. 30, 1,452 adoptions were finalized. That means the trial adoptive placement has been completed and the adoption has been legally consummated in court.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services provides specific information about waiting children and the adoption process in Oklahoma. To learn more, contact Adoption Family Recruitment at 1-866-612-2565.

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