A couple based in Colorado Springs was honored for adopting their seven foster children. They are among the five families in the state that have been recognized for the year 2021 during November’s National Adoption Month.
Ashlette Lopez, who has spent two years of her childhood in foster care, mentioned that “foster care adoption is hard, and when someone says you guys are doing a great job, it means a lot.” She has based all her experience in foster care to make a better life for the foster children who have been assigned to her care due to neglect or abuse by their birth families or guardians.
According to Lopez, “In our home, foster care is family and with love and consistency, the kids thrive.” Foster care does not necessarily mean that it will automatically lead to adoption. Lopez also added, “The advice I always give is you don’t go into foster care to adopt; these kiddos are coming from broken homes, and the first thing foster care is aimed to do is reunite those families.” However, it does not always happen in foster care.
According to the state’s Department of Human Services, since the start of 2021, around 473 Colorado foster care children have been successfully adopted by their foster families. Right now, 436 foster kids in the state are awaiting their adoption the state agency relays.
Since the start of the year, 76 adoptions in El Paso County have been arranged, and the Department of Human Services is currently searching for adoptive families for 26 children, according to the department’s spokeswoman Kristina Iodice. A lot of children and teenagers up to 21 years of age have been adopted by their foster family, while the rest by new families. Different private firms and the state’s child welfare program have been constantly organizing adoption services.
The Lopezes doing foster care and adoption is only one of the many reasons they were chosen to be honored by the state, according to Adrienne Baxter, the spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Human Services. The couple has adopted groups of siblings which only a few families are willing to do, she added. “They’ve been great advocates for foster care and adoption,” Baxter has mentioned, “A lot of people in the community know who they are.”
Ashlette Lopez is legally blind, while Eric Lopez is deaf; they started dating each other in high school and got married 15 years ago. Both were special-education teachers, they decided to become foster parents when one of their cousins needed help. “We thought, ‘We got this. We know what we’re doing,’” according to Ashlette.
Figuring out a child according to his or her personality and behavior and how to effectively deal with the trauma they experienced is only one of the most difficult aspects of fostering, Eric has mentioned. Foster care has improved these days, from being a normal scenario of foster children who were ignored and treated as an income source in families to a family focus where each child’s needs are provided accordingly, according to Ashlette.
She reminisces her childhood when she was only 5 years old, “the horror of being put in a police car, and the social worker telling us it would be OK.” She stayed for a few weeks in a group facility where she and her brothers were taken together before she was sent to a foster home. “I’d only see my brothers for an hour a day, and it was super scary to go to sleep in a bunk bed in a stark, sterile place,” according to Lopez when asked about the group setting. “I like to think we don’t do that as often or not at all.”
Lopez shared a testimony in 2016 at a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. regarding the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018, which was enforced on October 1, which successfully eliminated group homes and replaced them with foster parents who have the training to help children that have experienced trauma and abuse.
Besides the seven adoptions, the Lopezes have become foster parents for 30 kids in the past decade. The best part of it is being their dad, according to Eric. “I’m the fun dad — I do activities and sports-related stuff,” he mentioned. “I just love being there for the kids, and I try to support them as much as I can.” A lot of children in foster care do not have a father figure in their lives, Ashlette has added. “He’s fun and consistent with his love,” she described her husband of 15 years. The family loves to play and watch sports, and the couple taught their children that having a disability, doesn’t mean it will prevent someone to live his or her life to the fullest.
Having up to 12 children in their home at times through adoption, fostering, and offering respite care the Lopez family home is “a fun, crazy loud,” Eric stated. The Lopez home is the house in the neighborhood where children of friends and neighbors prefer to get together, the couple added. “We’re big on letting kids and our friends know when they have a problem, we can talk about it and love on them,” Ashlette remarked.
Friends and churchgoers at Fellowship of the Rockies — Eric’s workplace have been supporting and helping the couple as they manage a busy home. “If you don’t have any type of support, it will be a struggle,” Eric voiced out. “Sometimes just providing a simple thing like a dinner is a blessing.”
The commissioners from El Paso County will issue a proclamation regarding the local celebration of National Adoption Month at the November 16 meeting. “Adoptive families give an incredible gift to children,” according to Stacie Kwitek-Russell, the executive director of El Paso County Human Services. “They make a choice to grow their family, positively impacting the lives of children with love, support and stability for a lifetime.” The necessity of adoptive families is continuous in the community, she mentioned, and there is also “a greater ongoing need for foster families.”
The requirement for foster and adoptive parents is they must be no less than 21 years old. There are no constraints based on ethnicity, income, race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. If you want to check out the original article, you can visit this link.