Agency sheds light on adoption needs

‘It simply requires heart’

When she was growing up, Anne Colton of Altoona, knowing there was a serious need for adoptive parents, would wonder judgmentally why families in her circle of acquaintance didn’t adopt.

Having now grown up and having recently married, Colton realized that she and her spouse, Tracy Walters, are in a position to do what Colton thought those others should have done when she was younger.

Accordingly, the two women were among about 45 people who came to the Overflow Church in Altoona on Saturday for a Blair Hope for Families-sponsored event designed to call attention to the need for more foster and adoptive families for Blair County kids.

There’s a passage in Proverbs that says when you’ve heard the truth, you’re accountable to act, and the truth is what Colton realized when she was younger: there’s a raging need, according to Hope for Families founder Doug Sloey.

In the U.S., 100,000 kids are “free and clear for adoption,” but one-fourth of them “age out” of the system every year without being taken, Sloey said.

In Pennsylvania, 2,000 kids are adoptable, and 750 age out every year, he said.

In Blair County, 36 kids are waiting for adoption.

“It simply requires heart,” Sloey said.

You can be the equivalent of a missionary in your own home, giving kids who have come “from really horrible places” the family life that is their fondest wish, said agency speakers at the event.

“You do not have to be perfect,” added Anna Young, permanency supervisor at the Altoona office of the Bair Foundation, a foster and adoption agency.

Colton and Walters, who for now have only a couple of cats and a dog, have just begun their exploration of what it may take to foster, then adopt.

They came on Saturday to “find out how to get started,” Colton said.

Colton began to appreciate the need based on her relation with a friend in high school who was adopted. Walters got an inkling from her work in the mental health field.

But Walters’ work has helped her understand the kinds of issues that often develop from the same family problems that send kids into the foster-adoptive system in the first place.

Those issues can include attachment problems, which has inclined her at this point toward adoption of a younger child.

Yet, ultimately, it’s not about Walters and Colton so much as it’s about the children, Walters said, citing one of the speakers.

“You go into it with your eyes open,” Colton added.

Reminded of Sloey’s citation of Proverbs, Colton said: “How can you walk away?”

After all, they don’t need to be perfect, she said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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