INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Smith family says while foster care fills a need in the community it can not replace the connection and bond a child forms in a permanent home. They say that was a motivating factor in their decision to adopt a teen.
Tony Smith, a father and adoption advocate, said, “Our system tries to do what it can, the government tries to do what it can, but we are majorly failing kids in the system because if they don’t get adopted or if they don’t make a meaningful connection with adults the consequences are absolutely dire.”
Tony and Deidra Smith said they were called to advocate for vulnerable children by their faith, so they foster children and adopted their daughter Alliyah out of the foster care system.
“For Alliyah she had been without permanency for 13.5 years, some of that was in traditional foster care, some of that was a guardianship,” Deidra said.
It took nearly two years for the Smiths to finalize Alliyah’s adoption.
“I knew it would eventually come to fruition,” Deidra said. “She did not feel that way.”
Alliyah Smith said, “For me, because I have been let down so many times I felt like we were going to get to the day and something was going to go wrong so I feel like it was a lot of relief.”
Alliyah explained the permanency of joining the Smith family has allowed her to thrive.
“I’m getting my driver’s license, I have a car, and I’m a part of cosmetology,” Alliyah said. “I’ve gotten to be a part of so many different things from church to color guard.”
The Smiths said adopting from the foster care system is important because there are hundreds of kids that will never experience family reunification and are waiting for their forever home.
“We really started being involved with vulnerable children as an extension of our faith,” Tony said. “We’re Christians so we really wanted to be involved in that space of people who can’t defend and take care of themselves.”
“She moved in with us when she was 14 so we don’t have a ton of time at home per se, we don’t get the full 18 years. We missed a lot of the first steps, we didn’t send her on the bus on the first day of school and those things but there are so many firsts that we still get,” Deidra said. “We taught her to drive and tony will walk her down the aisle, sorry it just makes me really sad to think about it.”
Foster care adoptions are managed through the Indiana Department of Child Services, to get started reach out to representatives in your specific county to start the paperwork and training. If you are interested in exploring the list of children waiting to be adopted click here.