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By Pete Ricketts
Nebraska Governor 

Connecting Nebraska's Waiting Children With Forever Families

 

December 8, 2022 | View PDF

The family unit plays a crucial role in shaping a child's life. A loving home is a tremendous blessing –it's easy for many of us to take that for granted. But there are nearly 500 children in Nebraska still waiting on a forever family. At the State, we are working diligently to find every one of these children a safe, loving home. I encourage you to consider what you can do to play a part in changing a child's life through adoption or foster care.

Many of us entered the world greeted by the warmth of a loving family. A parent was there to nurture us. As we grew up, we could count on family to look out for us. Our home provided us with a sense of belonging, stability, and security. And each day, we had family cheering us on and guiding us through life. However, for various reasons, not every child's biological parents can offer this care.

This is where the generosity of Nebraskans is needed. Through foster care and adoption, we can give these children the care every kid deserves. You can visit dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Adoption to learn more about the different types of adoption and get connected to resources as you consider opening your heart and home to children in need. If you have completed an adoption home study, you can also learn more about Nebraska's waiting children through the Nebraska Heart Gallery.

Nebraska has hundreds of passionate individuals working to support prospective foster and adoptive parents and advocate for children in need of forever homes. At the State, we have 532 teammates dedicated to the welfare of the children in our care as child and family services (CFS) specialists. This includes 138 new teammates who have begun to take on cases in our Eastern Service Area in 2022. It's a challenging, highly-rewarding role. Our CFS specialists make a tremendous difference in the lives of Nebraska's children. I encourage Nebraskans to consider a career as a child and family services specialist. You can learn more about our openings and apply at statejobs.nebraska.gov.

Additionally, we have generous nonprofits throughout Nebraska aiding our children and families. The Nebraska Foster and Adoptive Parent Association and the Nebraska Adoption Agencies Association are excellent examples of the compassion and generosity of organizations that help make Nebraska the best place in the world to live, work, and grow up as a child.

Adoption Month is also an opportunity to celebrate and honor Nebraska's adoptive families. Recently, I met with several of these families to thank them in person on behalf of all Nebraskans. This included Mark and Megan Grimes of Lincoln. They adopted their niece, five-year-old Naomi, on May 3rd of this year. Due to substance abuse and other issues, Naomi's biological mother was unable to provide a safe home for her daughter. In 2019, Megan and Mark stepped up to foster Naomi. The recent adoption has allowed Naomi to thrive in a safe, stable home, while maintaining an active relationship with her biological mother. "We've enjoyed watching Naomi come into her personality," Megan told me. "She is a determined playground climber, ruthless card player and collector of all-things-nature. We feel fortunate to have her as a member of our family."

Naomi is one of 354 children previously in the custody of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services who joined their forever families as their adoptions were finalized in court this year. Several of these families were made official this month during Adoption Month celebrations held at courthouses throughout Nebraska. For example, Rakeesha Barber of Omaha finalized her adoption of three siblings ages ten, eight, and one during Omaha's Adoption Day event on November 19. Newlyweds Nathan and Brandi Arneal also adopted their son that same weekend, after Brandi had fostered him for three years.

In appreciation of adoptive families in Nebraska, and to highlight how adoption can help change a life, I've proclaimed November as Adoption Awareness Month in Nebraska. Though the end of November is fast-approaching, the time is always right to explore how you can help Nebraska's children in need of a family. I encourage any Nebraskan considering adoption or foster care to reach out to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for more information. Call 1-800-7-PARENT today to learn how you can change a child's life for the better.

Every child deserves to have a stable and permanent family of their own, and it benefits all of Nebraska to work toward this goal. If you have any questions about the State's efforts to promote adoption in Nebraska, you can contact me at [email protected] or 402-471-2244.

 

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