CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The state of West Virginia has almost seven thousand children in foster care, many of whom are waiting to be adopted by their foster parents.
Many find themselves struggling with red tape and bureaucracy when they want to adopt them.
In Charleston, Danielle Ellis says the adoption process for her special-needs foster baby keeps getting delayed.
Ellis’s eyes light up when she talks about Nate, her almost-two-year-old foster toddler.
“He’s the best thing that ever happened to us,” said Ellis.
Ellis and her husband took Nate in when he was three months old, five weeks later he was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome.
“I did not know the extent of the needs that he would have, and I’m so glad that I didn’t, because had I known that he needed major open-heart surgery and that he was born with Down’s Syndrome I may have said no and missed out on him,” she said.
By then, says Ellis, they were already in love with him.
She and her husband are now trying to adopt Nate.
The state of West Virginia mandates parental rights be relinquished after 15 months if the parents aren’t able to reunify.
That window has run in Nate’s case – but Danielle and her husband are still in what she calls “the waiting game.”
“Children deserve permanency and what ends up happening is the court dates get postponed, postponed, postponed, so a lot more kids are spending a lot more time in the system than they should be.”
“Children deserve permanency and what ends up happening is the court dates get postponed, postponed, postponed, so a lot more kids are spending a lot more time in the system than they should be”Danielle Ellis, Foster Mother
Ellis says she’s not alone.
“You hear a lot of parents say they’re frustrated with the system and I’m no different than that,” she said.
Still, Ellis says she knows she made the right choice with Nate.
“I without a shadow of a doubt know that were he not in our care he wouldn’t even be alive today,” she said.
The state tried to reform the foster care system during the last legislative session but didn’t succeed.