|Foster mother Mollie Jelks with children, Kendra, 12, Amy 10, Tyler, 9, and Sean, 6.|
Children’s Bureau hosts upcoming Foster Care and Adoption Orientation
“My heart jumped for joy,” said Mollie Jelks, when asked about her experience with her four adopted children.
Jelks attributes much of her success as a foster parent to the Children’s Bureau, which has been placing foster care children into permanent homes since 1904.
In order to find more loving parents such as Jelks, the Children’s Bureau is hosting a potential parent orientation on Saturday, July 19th from 10am-Noon at their Carson office, located at 406 E. Carson Plaza Drive, Suite 122, Carson, CA. 90746.
Jelks has two biological children ages 32 and 28, who currently live out of town, but she has opened her home to not one, or two, but four other children. Jelks adopted Kendra, 12, Amy, 10, Tyler, 9, and Sean, 6, with the help of the Children’s Bureau.
In 1994, Jelks began a temporary position with the Bureau and soon began to inquire about the foster care program. After being approved through the application process, several children were placed in her care.
Her second eldest, Amy, has one of the most endearing stories of her adopted children. She was three months old when Jelks began to care for her. She was malnourished, withdrawn and suffering from early drug exposure. Jelks was able to slowly able to nurse Amy back to health using attention, love and patience. With the added support from the Children’s Bureau, Amy continued to progress from a fragile child to a tenacious ten-year-old. Jelks adopted Amy in August 2000.
Mollie Jelks’ adoption story is just one of many that empowers the Children’s Bureau to continue their work within the foster care and adoption arena. Living by their mission statement-to help children become productive members of society because if you change one child’s life for the better, then you change generations to come-has led the Bureau to become one of the largest, low-cost adoption agencies in California. Marcia Morris, Recruitment Coordinator for the Bureau states, “There are currently 119,000 children available for adoption, 9,000 alone who are in California. There is a very high need for African American families [to apply to be foster parents]. African American foster children tend to stay in foster care longer and are disproportionately represented within foster care and adoption.”
The Bureau offers professional treatment and prevention services for more than 9,000 abused and neglected children in southern California. Qualifying families will receive training, and certification to aid in the care of their foster and adopted children. They believe that as a foster parent, you will have the opportunity to give a child “a life filled with love, hope, and all the little things that make childhood special!”
Morris went on to say, “People have a lot of misconceptions about adopting. It really only costs about $400 to adopt. Adoptive parents receive a monthly stipend, a clothing fund, and a social worker available to them 24/7. The children’s medical expenses are covered by MediCal, so all they really need is someone who with love them and provide a secure home for them.”
The adoption process begins when the prospective parent completes an application for adoption. The Children’s Bureau conducts a home study and the matching team then tries to match the family with a child based on the home study. The Bureau does not give a specific allotted time for the adoption process because it depends on the applicant; however, if the applicant turns in the application materials within a timely manner, the certification process can take as little as four months. The child is placed in the home within a few weeks of certification.
Even though Jelks’ adoptive process is complete, she continues to attend training and support groups provided by the Children’s Bureau. “Now I get to share my experiences with new and potential foster and adoptive families, giving them the hope, courage, resources, and support they need to get through the oftentimes long and challenging process of adoption.”
The Children’s Bureau finalizes more than 150 adoptions every year and is one of the largest, private, non-profit adoption agencies in California. Information meetings are held each month in six counties. For more information, please call (800) 730-3933 or visit their website www.all4kids.org.