Matching up families with children needing homes

Bucks County is about to try its hand at matchmaking.

On Nov. 30, the county’s Children and Youth Services agency will try to hook up families interested in adoption with up to 150 children of all ages. With a perfect match, a family could have a new son or daughter and a child could be in a permanent home within nine months.

The children, mostly 12 and older, won’t be at the county’s first “matching event,” but their pictures and descriptions will be available, Karen Robos, adoption/independent living manager, said this week.

The children will be represented by social workers from at least 10 to 15 agencies based in Bucks, eastern Pennsylvania, and around the state, such as Tabor Children Services, Bethanna, and Diakon, she said. They live in foster homes, group homes and treatment facilities.

“They have life experiences and trauma,” Robos said. “They need services; they need support.”

The event, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Central Bucks Senior Center in Doylestown, is open to anyone interested in adopting – singles, same-sex couples and married couples. Families can live outside the county or the state.

Similar events have been conducted or are scheduled around the Philadelphia area as part of National Adoption Awareness Month.  Montgomery County Human Services will host an event Monday in Norristown from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.    

“The focus is to try to keep kids in their own communities and schools, where they have friends and things they’re familiar with,” Robos said.

The agencies also look to keep brothers and sisters together or, when separated, to place them in homes that will maintain their relationship.

At matching events, a family discusses children with the social workers, who also are prepared to review the family’s profile.  When there’s a good match, they make arrangements for the next step, meeting with the caseworker and being introduced to the child, Robos said.

Next, there are visits with the child for everyone to get to know each other.

To proceed with an adoption, the family must host the child for six months as foster parents while they go through the approval process – State Police, Childline (abuse) and FBI background checks; home inspection; physical exam; and interviews.

The entire process can take nine months to a year, Robos said. Travel costs to visit the children and lawyers’ fees are covered by the state, and the family profiles are paid for by the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN).

Bucks received a $920 grant from SWAN for its event. The money will pay for renting the senior center at 700 Shady Retreat Lane, food and activities for the children of families who attend.