FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things in people’s everyday lives, including how they adopt and foster children.
Sometimes it feels like not real, I mean we sit and look at him and we’re like he’s ours, but it’s like we didn’t get that experience.KIMBERLY WIENEKE, FOSTER PARENT
Kimberly Wieneke and her husband have been foster parents for over a year.
Last May, two-year-old Jaden came to live with them in Fort Smith.
“In my heart, I already knew I wanted him,” Wieneke said.
In February 2020, Jaden was put up for adoption — the Wienekes decided to give him a forever home.
“We knew the day they terminated [the parental rights] that we would be adopting April 16,” she said.
It was all set and stone, but then the coronavirus came.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many court hearings are now done online — meaning Jaden’s adoption had to be finalized through a ZOOM video chat.
“We see all the pictures
The Wienekes had big plans for Jaden’s adoption day, but unfortunately, the coronavirus took that special moment away.
We missed out on our big hoorah!KIMBERLY WIENEKE, FOSTER PARENT
Social distancing has changed a lot of things for children and families going through the adoption and foster care process.
It’s really changed our whole interaction with these kids and the ability to check in on them.ADDIE MARTIN, FOSTER CARE WORKER
According to Adoption Specialist Ashley Elam and Foster Care Worker Addie Martin, no family service worker is going to let a pandemic stop them from keeping kids’ safety the number one priority.
“I feel like I’m actually working harder to be able to see my kids,” Elam said. “I’m trying to think outside of the box on how I can see them.”
“We have to think of their safety as far as COVID-19 but there are still checks that we have to do,” Martin said.
It’s a challenging time for all of those involved, but despite the difficulties — it’s all worth it.
He’s ours, he has a forever home.KIMBERLY WIENEKE, FOSTER PARENT
According to Elam, since the pandemic she has helped finalized 7 adoptions.
“Adoption is an amazing thing, no matter how you do it,” she said.