by Lisa Flower
Unique circumstances bring the Crawfords together. Robert and Sue Crawford, a married couple from Plantsville with three biological children, became foster parents licensed by the Department of Children and Families in 2000. A year later, two sisters, Shania, then 5 years old, and Felicia, then 8, entered the Department’s care. On September 14, 2001, they had no way to know there lives would be changed forever.
Shania and Felicia adapted extremely well to life with the Crawfords. Shania would tell the other children that entered the home, “Don’t be scared. You’ll be treated like a regular kid.” Happily, this story is like that of many foster parents who fall in love with the children in their care and make them a permanent part of the family.
In 2005, the sisters were joined by younger brother Jake, who was adopted the next year. Then in November 2007, the Crawfords learned that Felicia, Shania, and Jake had a new baby brother, Alex, who needed a foster home.
And how do Sue and Bob manage with eight children? They are very organized. And like so many other adoptive and foster parents, they say the rewards they receive far outweigh the challenges. “It’s wonderful,” Sue said. “Some days are hectic, some days stressful — but the regular days are the norm. We are happy with that. Family is important, very important to Bob and me.”
The Crawfords’ story is particularly timely in November as the Department celebrates National Adoption Month. For children who enter care and cannot be safely reunified with their parents, adoption and subsidized guardianship offer the permanency and family every child deserves. Last state fiscal year, the Department found permanent homes for 868 children — 634 through adoption and 234 through a transfer of guardianship to a relative. The achievement of permanency has also become more timely in recent years; the percentage of adoptions finalized within 24 months of a child’s entering care has tripled since the first quarter of 2004.
Still, there are many children in need of a permanent home — especially children of color, adolescents, children with medically complex needs, and sibling groups. For information on how to become a foster or adoptive parent, please call 1-888-KID-HERO. A 10-week training program is provided and parents receive a subsidy to care for children in their home and insurance to provide for health care.