Hank Investigates: Coronavirus delaying foster kids from finding families

BOSTON (WHDH) - Right now hundreds of children are awaiting adoption in Massachusetts and investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan found the coronavirus is hampering foster kids from finding families.

8-year-old Desiree and 10-year-old Elijah are just two of 1200 Massachusetts children in foster care who are available for adoption.

“We really do believe there’s a family out there for every single child. It’s just a matter of finding them,” Jeremy Smith, from the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) told us.

But we found the coronavirus outbreak has halted adoptions in Massachusetts and experts say it’s now hampering these kids finding permanent homes.

“The pandemic is affecting the children in foster care and the entire foster care system in pretty serious ways,” Smith said.

MARE is a nonprofit group that works closely with DCF and helps the state place about 300 children a year in adoptive homes.

Many adoptions stem from MARE’s kid-friendly events, where approved adopters meet and bond with foster children and their social workers.

“These interactions aren’t things you can replicate through email or just writing descriptions in an email; it makes such a huge difference when you can have those actual face to face interactions,” Smith said.

But all their events are now canceled. Obviously, safety and social distancing is a priority to curb the spread of the virus. In the meantime, foster kids remain in foster care.

Already children in foster care are pretty invisible in our society. They often go unnoticed. People don’t know there’s this huge need for adoptive families, and its really exacerbated even more in a time like this when they’re literally shut behind closed doors,” Smith said.

To help, MARE is now asking parents who want to adopt to create videos about themselves, which the organization will send to foster kids’ social workers, who will then video conference and discuss potential matches.

But until the pandemic passes, MARE worries about a massive drop in adoptions.

“The end result is children in foster care are waiting even longer for a permanent family, and we believe any week a child has to wait for a permanent safe, loving family is too long,” Smith said.

MARE says adoption court hearings are also off in Massachusetts until at least sometime in May at the earliest. If you want to at least begin the process of adopting a child check out MARE’S website for information and children in need.

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