DANVILLE -- A Danville couple’s eight-month journey to adopt their foster son has finally come to fruition.
In December, Call 6 Investigates brought you the story of Ashley and Joe Steadham, who struggled with infertility for 10 years before becoming a foster parent to a little boy named Kenneth.
At an Aug. 4 court ceremony, the Steadhams officially adopted 5-year-old Kenneth Joseph Steadham.
He had been in foster care for the past four years, according to his adoptive mother Ashley.
“I want people to know they really can make a difference in children’s lives,” said Ashley Steadham. “Even if the process is long, hard and frustrating, it’s worth it and Indiana’s children need us.”
The state of Indiana is facing an unprecedented need for foster families.
Call 6 Investigates reported in December more than 16,474 children are currently in foster care in Indiana, a 15 percent increase.
The Steadhams are also fostering twin babies, and would like to eventually adopt them as well.
Half of the children coming into the child welfare system are age 5 and under, according to Sharon Pierce, president of The Villages, a nonprofit that trains and supports foster parents.
“It’s due to a tsunami of drug and alcohol abuse,” said Pierce. “We have never seen anything like it. Children are paying the price.”
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While the goal of foster care is ultimately to reunite the child with a biological parent, that’s not always possible.
The Steadhams want to inspire others to welcome a foster child into their home, whether it be for a few days or a lifetime.
Foster parents do receive a stipend from the state, which varies depending on the age of the child and the child’s needs.
Foster parent candidates must complete state licensing requirements that include:
• 20 hours of pre-service training
• Physical exam
• Child abuse and sex abuse registry checks
• Criminal background checks
• Positive references
• Stable income (able to meet own family’s needs)
• Home visits and environmental checks
• First Aid, CPR, and Universal Precautions Certifications
The Villages: https://www.villages.org/get-involved/be-a-foster-parent/ 317-775-6500 or 1-800-874-6880
The Indiana Department of Child Services: http://www.in.gov/dcs/fostercare.htm or 1-888-631-9510