NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Not every child is born into a loving family, so KNWA and FOX24 have teamed up with Post Consumer Brands and Project Zero to highlight kids who’re up for adoption in Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) custody.
Currently, parental rights have been terminated for 329 kids in the Natural State, which means they are available for adoption, according to Kristy Franks with DCFS.
“A lot of those children are school-aged children and teens and we also have a lot of sibling groups that are needing to be adopted,” Franks said.
It’s sibling groups, and kids who’re older, who Franks said typically have a harder time getting adopted. In turn, they end up spending much of their youth moving from foster home to foster home.
Together, DCFS and Project Zero work to get these children seen by pre-adoptive families.
On its website, Project Zero features photos and videos of each child/ sibling group eligible for adoption across Arkansas in its Heart Gallery.
“We ask them, you know, questions about what they might want in a family and then what they enjoy doing in life,” Project Zero’s Tiphanie Gurwell said.
These resources give families who’re interested in adopting, a chance to learn more about the needs and wants of each child.
“They are searching and searching and searching for something they’ve never known. You have the opportunity to give that to them,” Gurwell said.
Project Zero also facilitates connection events for foster kids and potential families.
“Our job is really to just kind of come in and take a little burden off and give another way for families to come and meet kids,” Gurwell continued, “the families come in, they interact, they get to inquire about kids that they’ve met that day that they felt a connection to and then we pair them up with the adoption specialist and then hopefully they’ve found a family.”
“DCFS comes alongside them and helps get the children and pre-adoptive families at these events and we help facilitate the one on one interaction with the families and the children,” Franks said.
While they’re usually held in person, the coronavirus pandemic has forced these meetings online. They’re now conducted over zoom and are called “zooming for zero.”
Gurwell said while it’s not ideal, these zoom interactions have been successful in finding families for local foster children.
Not everyone can attend these get-togethers though. They’re only open to families who’ve been approved by the state to become a foster/ adoptive home.
Once that’s taken care of, Gurwell said the easy part is opening up your home.
“It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be worth it. It’s about the kid. It’s about what we can offer them, not necessarily what they can offer us,” Gurwell said.
While Franks said many families choose not to adopt out of fear it’ll be to expensive, it’s actually almost entirely free. She said the only thing a new family will need to pay for is a physical exam and a new birth certificate.