Building an adoption 'bridge' Foster children: Recruiting suburbanites to adopt city youths on waiting list a sensible approach.

July 21, 1998

IT'S GOOD to see a regional approach being taken to help solve what some consider a "city problem." About 600 boys and girls in Baltimore await adoption. Most have been waiting at least two or three years for a family.

They may find one in Howard County, which has started an adoption program called Project Bridge.

A $600,000 federal grant was announced last year for the three-year program, which will match city foster children with adoptive families in Howard County. But with the naming of a director and hiring of a recruiter, the program is just getting started. The county Department of Social Services says it wants to continue the effort beyond the grant period.

Project Manager Vivian Walden says no one should get the idea that only affluent participants are being sought for the program. Project Bridge wants good people of all incomes who can make room in their homes and hearts for children who need parents.

It is typically harder to find a home for an older child than for an infant. It's even more difficult to find families willing and able to adopt more than one child.

But Sue Fitzsimmons, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Social Services, says about half the Baltimore children awaiting adoption are in sibling groups of two or three brothers and sisters.

Project Bridge hopes to find homes for at least 45 sibling groups. On Sunday at Long Reach Church of God, 26 families volunteered to adopt children.

They will be screened to make sure they meet the requirements to become adoptive families. A number of people not prepared to adopt volunteered to help in other ways, including becoming mentors to foster children.

Ms. Walden says Project Bridge will continue to recruit at churches and other religious institutions. But it will also try other avenues to find families ready to adopt. Maybe this project can lead to other collaborative efforts that cross geographic lines to find good solutions to common problems.

Pub Date: 7/21/98

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