Over 80 children in Arkansas will be celebrating this holiday season with a new family. During the month of November, which is National Adoption Month, the Department of Human Services oversaw the adoption of 82 children. That brings the total number of adoptions this year to 693.

But the need for more loving homes is still great. There are another 500 children in our state currently available for adoption.

We are reminded of the need daily now as the traveling Arkansas Heart Gallery is now located close to the entrance of the House in the State Capitol. The gallery is covered with the faces of children who need a home. Over 30 professional photographers donated their time to help make this project possible.

If you can’t make it to the Capitol, you can view the pictures and learn more about these children at www.adoptarkansas.org.

Many of the children currently available for adoption were removed from their birth family or legal parent due to neglect, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. An adoption cannot take place unless the birth parent or legal parent’s rights have been terminated by the court.

The adoption process can take up to 6 months to complete. It includes a home study and background check. But what makes an adoption successful is a family that can make a commitment, deal with rejection, look at progress in small steps, and simply laugh.

In addition to the need for adoptive parents in our state, there is even a greater need for foster parents. At any given time there are close to 4,000 children in Arkansas who have been removed from their home. There are just over 1,200 homes currently approved to foster children.

Foster parenting is a serious commitment. It requires giving the gift of unconditional love to children and youth who may never have experienced love of any kind and who may not know how to accept it. It also requires the foster parent to be able to separate from those children when they are returned to their birth family or more permanent family situation. But you don’t have to be perfect, to be a perfect parent for a child in care.

We know there are many families out there who can provide the perfect home for either adoption or foster care.

If you are interested in finding out more about the procedures visit the Department of Human Services website at humanservices.arkansas.gov.