East Franklin adoption event hopes to lead children into parents' loving arms

| Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, 2:17 a.m.

EAST FRANKLIN – A family event on Saturday at the Belmont Complex might end up being a significant turning point in more than one person's life.

That's because private and public child welfare agencies will be on hand at a matching event to provide information to those interested in fostering or adopting a child. Photos and biographical summaries will be available of children in Pennsylvania who are in need of a home.

Armstrong County Children, Youth and Family Services is hosting the event for the first time in the county as a way to bring adoption information to the public and to celebrate Saturday's National Adoption Day.

Lynn Kovar, a paralegal with Statewide Adoption Network, or SWAN, said the event was planned because so many children are in need of placement, and often those interested in fostering or adopting lack the knowledge on how to go through the process.

Kittanning-area residents Nancy and Robert McLean have adopted 17 children over the years. They also have five biological children.

Nancy said she attended a matching event in another county. She said it can be a helpful way of finding a child and suggested that those intending to go through the process should prepare by getting their personal documents together.

Kovar said prospective parents will need to fill out an application and undergo screenings and background checks as part of the process.

According to the SWAN website, prospective parents must complete an adoptive family profile or home study, which includes a series of meetings in the home with an agency worker.

The website notes there are more than 3,000 children in Pennsylvania waiting to be adopted.

When Nancy McLean mentioned the high number of children in need of foster care or adoption, she expressed her frustration at her attempts to get area churches to distribute information about World Orphans Day — which falls on the second Monday of November. She said when church groups engage in anti-abortion discussion, they should expand the discussion to include the subject of adoption.

She said that even if people choose not to adopt, everyone should be aware of the situation.

“These kids have to go some place,” she said.

There are more than 100,000 children in the United States in need of adoption.

“My mother was one of those (foster) kids who wasn't adopted,” said Nancy McLean.

McLean said she and her husband have been enriched and enlightened from the experience of opening up their home to orphans.

But their experience has not been without challenges. Many children in need of adoption have special needs, and the McLeans adopted four children born with Down syndrome.

Yet in spite of the challenges, Nancy said she would encourage others to follow suit and quoted the adage: “Prepare for the worst, wish for the best and except what you're given.”

She also said if given the chance, she'd do it all over again.

“It's a lot of work, but so worth it,” she said.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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