ROCKFORD (WREX) — Adopting a child can already be a difficult task, but with COVID-19, foster and adoption services had to adjust. One Rockford family, who is in the process of adopting two siblings, says the virus actually brought them closer together.
Over the last eight years, the Smith family adopted three foster children.
“It’s fun,” Parnell and Schawndolyn Smith say. “We have adult children and six grandchildren.”
And soon, they’ll become foster parents to two more, bringing the total number of kids they’ve adopted to five.
“We’ve known them forever,” Schawndolyn says of the two children she and her husband are in the process of adopting.
The Smiths’ worked with Our Children’s Homestead, a foster care and adoption service with a branch in Rockford.
“Our kids come from a variety of places,” Marissa Allen, the CEO of Our Children’s Homestead, says.
Throw in COVID-19, and Allen says you have additional challenges.
“We had to take a look at what our options were, how were we going to continue to maintain contact with our families and ensure their well-being and safety was paramount,” Allen says.
So Allen says they went virtual, which actually made it easier to get in touch with kids. The Smiths’ agreed, saying COVID-19 has given them a unique opportunity to connect as a new family.
“We’re getting to know each other a lot better because usually you’re in the fast paced — you’re taking this one to practice, you’re taking this one this place, now we’re all in one spot,” Schawndolyn says.
“We’re learning different things as a family,” Parnell adds.
The couple reflects on their choice to adopt and considers what the “typical family” is, or can be.
“If you have any type of opportunity to do this, something that you feel like you want to do, you should do it because the need is there,” Parnell says.
“And you want to make a difference the world, that’s what we did,” Schawndolyn says.
While the coronavirus brought challenges, and loss, for the Smiths’ it’s helped them grow. For five children whose futures once seemed dark, they’re now brighter than ever before.
Through a new program, Our Children’s Homestead says there will be more children in need of foster parents. Right now, Allen says the service is actively looking for more foster parents in the Rockford region.
The Smith Family