Wednesday’s Child: A Place to Call Home Pt. 2
(WNDU) - There’s a race against time for foster children waiting for adoption. When they turn 18, they “age out” of the system. That means their services are drastically cut and many are out on their own.
That’s why our Wednesday’s Child segments are so important. And we’re so happy to report, they’re working! Six of the children who have been featured in our Wednesday’s Child segments have been adopted. Many of those adoptions are the direct result of our stories.
Kids like Alex have found a place to call home.
Alex was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. It’s a serious condition that can cause irreversible brain damage, even death. Alex survived. Parental rights were terminated and by age 5, Alex was a foster child available for adoption.
When Alex was interviewed for our Wednesday’s Child segment two years ago, he was scared he would age out of the system without finding a family.
At the time, Alex was 16 and wanted to be adopted by someone who “gets” him.
“Someone who actually appreciates my flaws and stuff,” said Alex at that time.
A year later, we did an update on Alex after he completed an internship designing web pages.
Alex was still waiting for a family, and he said that he was worried he wouldn’t find one.
“Hopefully, I get adopted this year because this year is my last because I’m at the 18 mark,” said Alex.
That story aired in April of last year. It was posted online, and soon it was all over social media.
“I watched one of your presentations. The one back in May or April or whenever,” said Andrew Sporner.
“It was actually shared on Facebook. I saw the heading and that pulled me in.”
A computer software engineer, Andrew saw so much of himself in the tech savvy teen that he wanted to help.
“I looked at myself (and said) ‘Somebody’s got to do something!’ You know?” said Andrew.
Andrew decided to make a call to Indiana’s Waiting Children.
“Well, you never know when that right family is going to be watching for these youth, so, thank you,” said Michelle Savieo.
Savieo is the Indiana Adoption Program Manager. She says foster teens like Alex are at high risk of aging out of the system.
“What it means to age out of the system means children are leaving foster care without any permanent relationships. Often times it leads to homelessness, mental health issues and a whole host of challenges in those youths’ lives. Familes can help combat that,” said Savieo.
Who is eligible to adopt a foster child?
“Pretty much anyone who doesn’t have a history that is unsafe for children. It doesn’t matter what your marital status is. Whether you’re single or married. It doesn’t matter what your age is,” said Savieo.
As a single man in his 50′s, Andrew never saw himself as a father.
“I thought the whole idea was pretty much preposterous, you know. My age. Single, you know. What business do I have doing this?” said Andrew.
“I started asking. (I) bounced the idea off of friends and everyone without exception was like, ‘do it’,” said Andrew.
And so, he did. Andrew even moved back to Indiana to make the process easier.
“It was meant to be that I come back,” said Andrew.
Soon the two of them met and they just clicked.
“I never thought I could do it but it seems pretty easy. Really. It’s just kind of worked out. Maybe it’s chemistry or whatever. It’s just worked out,” said Andrew. “He’s a smart kid. There are certain little things he’s got to work on. You know. Being focused. Attention to detail. But when I was that age, I was the same way. I was all over the map.”
Seven months after meeting Alex and just three days before his 18th birthday, adoption day finally arrived.
Due to the pandemic, it was held virtually and WNDU was given special permission to be included in the hearing by Marshall County Circuit Court Judge Curtis Palmer.
“Mr. Sporner, if you would raise your right hand,” said Judge Palmer as he started the proceedings.
Adoption attorney Grant Kirsh got right to business from his office in Indianapolis.
“Andrew, how did you come to know Alex?” said Kirsh.
“It was through a Facebook post from one of WNDU’s productions,” said Andrew.
“Alex, if you would raise your right hand for me, please,” continued Judge Palmer.
“In school, what’s your favorite subject?” asked Kirsh.
“Computer Science,” answered Alex with a big grin.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” asked Kirsh.
“A business owner that owns a tech company,” said Alex.
“Translation for everybody,” Kirsh interjected. “Alex wants to be a billionaire!”
Once the business matters were handled, it was time for a ruling.
“All necessary consents have been obtained. I’m going to find that adoption is in the best interest of the child, Alexander,” said Judge Palmer. “A child with special needs, justifying a title adoption assistance agreement. And I will grant the petition for adoption.”
WNDU was given recognition for helping Andrew and Alex make the connection.
“Ms. Sloma, if you are in fact the instigating party here, who got these two together, I’m glad to see that it has worked out for everyone,” said Judge Palmer. “And Alex, I wish you a long and healthy happy life.”
Once the call ended, Andrew had a surprise waiting for Alex.
“So now there’s something on the table we need to look at,” said Andrew.
“Cake!” yelled Alex.
Andrew’s homemade cake featured the words, “Welcome to my family, son!”
“I don’t have to say ‘guardian’ anymore. I can say now, ‘father.’ That’s something in and of itself right there. I mean who would’ve thought,” said Andrew.
As for Alex? It’s been a long road.
“After 13 years, it’s good,” said Alex. “After 13 years, I’m done. That’s the whole thing. Out of the system.”
Out of the system and into a place to call home.
How can you help foster kids in need of adoption? You can watch our Wednesday’s Child segments and share them on social media. There’s also a great need for more foster parents and foster parents who are willing to adopt. To get started, we have links on our website to Indiana’s Adoption Program, Michigan’s Adoption Resource Exchange and Grant Me Hope.
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