Like many other observances in 2020, Adoption Awareness Month in Illinois is taking place in the virtual world.
Throughout the month of November, Illinoisans are being encouraged to share their connections to adoption by displaying coloring sheets in their windows created with their kids, and sharing pictures on social media.
Alison Ketsenburg, placement supervisor in the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services' Quincy field office, said COVID-19 definitely has affected the ability to connect foster children with forever families.
"Some adoptions have been delayed because of COVID," she said. "Courthouses have been closed; attorneys and people involved have been quarantined or are positive for COVID. Foster families are a little more reserved; they don't want to expose their family."
Tomorrow is National Adoption Day, when many courthouses around the state typically hold ceremonies celebrating the finalization of adoptions. Some of those events have been moved online.
More than 1,500 kids in Illinois were adopted in the last fiscal year, and Ketsenburg says there still are some 18,000 children waiting to be connected to a forever family. While some come from troubled backgrounds, she wants people to know most are just regular kids, in need of a home.
"Being removed from their parents' home in general is a traumatic thing," she said, "so, even if they don't have significant trauma, that event alone is traumatic for them. They're just kids needing love and support, and their needs met."
Illinois DCFS has an online listing of children eligible for adoption. It can be found by searching "Heart Gallery of Illinois" on Facebook, or through the DCFS website.