Thirteen children will be spending Thanksgiving with their new families after county judges formalized their adoptions Nov. 19, National Adoption Day.
“Everybody is happy,” said Olayinkah Atta, who—with her husband—adopted three siblings at the event. “We are so excited. We are very fortunate.”
Honour Akinola, her son who was adopted with his two sisters, shares the sentiment.
“I just feel so much joy,” Akinola said.
While the progress should be celebrated, Ruthanne Mefford, CEO of Fort Bend County Child Advocates, said the number of children in the area needing placements is increasing.
“The increase in the number of children and families served last year during the pandemic increased by 21% over 2019—and year to date [in 2021], the monthly average is increasing by 29%,” Mefford said. ”This is reflected both in the larger numbers of reports as well as an increase in the severity of abuse as children have been isolated in homes while school was remote and intervention was delayed. This is across all categories of abuse including physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and witness to domestic violence and homicide.”
According to Mefford, FBCCA serves children through two programs: Court Appointed Special Advocates for children in foster care and the Children’s Advocacy Center where FBCCA provides forensic interviews, therapy and clinical family advocacy on-site.
According to FBCCA data, in 2018, the programs served 2,586 children and families. That number increased to 2,912 in 2019, and again to 3,524 in 2020. In 2021, through Oct. 31, the programs served 3,778 children and families.