Ceremony celebrates adoptions

The adoption process has been ongoing for more than three years.

But hopefully in the coming weeks, Ronnie Hagan will have reason to celebrate.

Hagan and his wife, Christine, became foster parents to his great-grandchildren, Cameron and Adalynn, in 2011. Over the past year, Hagan completed the background checks, parenting seminars and other requirements to officially adopt the two children.

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“The people up here who we talk to go on and on about what an amazing thing we’ve done,” Hagan said. “I don’t see it that way. I just see it as what should be done.”

The Hagans are just one of the families who are completing the adoption process in Johnson County. Six of those adoptions became official at the Johnson County Courthouse on Monday, as part of a nationwide effort dubbed Adoption Day.

The celebration is part of a year-round effort aimed at recognizing the importance of adoptive parents and the need to provide children involved with a permanent home.

“It’s lifesaving for these children,” said Tammi Hickman, director of the Johnson County Court Appointed Special Advocate program. “To have to take a child out of their biological home because of abuse and neglect, what these families do is absolutely critical to give the stability and security and everything we take for granted.”

Adoption Day was created by national adoption advocates in order to bring attention to the need for more families to give a home to children in foster care.

More than 100,000 children throughout the U.S. are in need of permanent homes, but often finding adoptive parents to offer their homes is a challenge.

In Johnson County, the CASA program has 11 children waiting to be adopted, Hickman said.

“We want to highlight the number of children we have in care who have resulted from neglect and abuse cases, in the hopes of families that might be interested in providing a forever home can see what a need it is and maybe give some of these kids a chance,” she said.

Indianapolis resident Gary Purvis and his granddaughter Shawna were among the first people to have their adoptions finalized Monday.

Shawna was 6 weeks old when she was taken into the custody of the Indiana Department of Child Services. Her mother — Purvis’ daughter — had been reported for neglect in Johnson County, and Purvis was approached asking if he’d like to take temporary custody of the girl in 2012.

“I love my daughter, and I did it to keep the family together,” he said.

Shawna is a free-spirited 2-year-old with a love of animals. She is particularly fond of monkeys and has a collection of monkey stuffed animals to play with. When she’s not watching nature shows on TV, she’s dancing and running round the house.

Purvis’ mother watches Shawna during the day, while he works at his job as a locksmith. He picks her up in late afternoon, and they go back to his Indianapolis home.

When he leaves Shawna at his mother’s, the most important exchange is what his granddaughter calls a “huggie-kiss.” If Shawna doesn’t get a kiss on the forehead and big hug, she’s mad the rest of the day, Purvis said.

“That’s a little girl who’s made my world,” Purvis said.

His daughter tried through department of child services programs to regain custody of her child but failed to do so, Purvis said.

When it became clear that she wouldn’t be able to get custody, he started the permanent adoption process. He had to have a background check that ensured that he had never been convicted of a violent or sex-based crime.

An educational program ensures that prospective parents are prepared to deal with the issues that adopted children struggle with, such as abandonment and attachment issues.

First aid classes and financial literacy courses also are required.

“It’s a process, so you have to be willing to invest some time in it,” Purvis said. “But it pays off in the end.”

Hagan is finishing up the process with Cameron and Adalynn.

The state agency had found their mother unfit to keep custody of them and worked with Hagan to provide the children with a stable home for the first time in their lives.

Hagan didn’t have to discuss it for long with his wife, Christine, before saying yes.

“That’s family. I’m not going to leave my family out on the street,” he said.

Cameron, 4, and Adalynn, 3, have become part of the fabric of Hagan’s Columbus home.

Cameron attends prekindergarten at the R.L. Johnson Early Education Center, just two blocks from their house. If the weather is nice, Hagan walks him to

the building.

Adalynn gets on the bus to

go to the Head Start program, and Hagan tries to keep up

with the enthusiastic young girl as she heads off to the pre-

school program.

“They have their own room; they have their own toys. They’ve got food to eat, and they don’t have to worry about clothes,” Hagan said. “We love having them here.”

Monday’s ceremony, complete with balloons, cake and photographs, was a chance at a fresh start for the children involved and a new exciting chapter for their adoptive parents.

Purvis said that raising a young child wasn’t something he expected to do at this point in his life. But he has no doubts about his decision to adopt.

“It’ll be an adventure. A good adventure, though,” Purvis said. “There’s no better feeling than unconditional love from a child. They don’t know anything but love.”

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What is adoption:

The voluntary acceptance of a child of other parents to be the same as one’s own child.

What are the requirements to become an adoptive parent?

  • Adoptive parents are asked to provide an adequate and loving home for an adopted child.
  • Can be single, married or divorced.
  • Are financially ready to add children to their family. There is no specific income requirement, and some children may be eligible for financial assistance and medical insurance.
  • Has enough room for an additional person in their home. A home visit will be required.
  • Must be able to pass an FBI fingerprint check and fulfill all training requirements.

How long does it take to adopt a child?

Most adoptive parents can meet all state requirements in three to six months, though the process can take longer. The final decision always rests with the court.

Information: 888-25-ADOPT (888-252-3678), in.gov/dcs


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Ryan Trares is a senior reporter and columnist at the Daily Journal. He has long reported on the opioids epidemic in Johnson County, health care, nonprofits, social services and veteran affairs. When he is not writing about arts, entertainment and lifestyle, he can be found running, exploring Indiana’s craft breweries and enjoying live music. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727. Follow him on Twitter: @rtrares