Jeremy and LaShandra Cheuvront have a lot to be thankful for this season.
Last year, the St. Louis area couple celebrated the holidays with one another and their two dogs. This year, their house is much fuller – both with people and with love. Thanks to a partnership between Jefferson County Children’s Division and the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition, the Cheuvronts are ringing in the holidays with their four children – 13-year-old Autumn, 12-year-old Amber, 9-year-old Angie and 7-year-old John – siblings they adopted in August. Siblings that for the past two Christmases had no permanent home.
In February, although they had never met them and knew little about them, the Cheuvronts welcomed the children into their home. Six months later, the siblings became permanent Cheuvronts through adoption – a wish come true for Jeremy and LaShandra Cheuvront.
“We discussed adoption before we even got married,” said Jeremy Cheuvront. “I was adopted when I was a kid and wanted to adopt because it worked for me. There are so many kids without homes. We knew our children were out there – we just had to find them.”
The need for parents
Each year, hundreds of children in the St. Louis area are waiting for permanent homes, and no time is this more evident than National Adoption Month in November. According to Melanie Scheetz, executive director for the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition, the organization provides adoption recruitment and support services for over 750 children annually.
“We hope to serve even more in 2011, when we will launch the Foster and Adoption Resource Center in Brentwood," she said. "This $700,000 project will allow us to expand our services and programs for thousands of area children and families.”
As the number of children needing forever homes continues to climb, so does the need for loving parents. While many individuals and couples want to adopt, they may be concerned about the cost involved and the worry that they’ll be alone when building a relationship with their new children, especially if the children are older.
The truth is, unlike private adoption, which can cost $20,000 or more, the costs involved in a public adoption, even court and attorney fees, are minimal for parents and in most cases are borne by the state. But even more important for parents is the support of the coalition, which helps guide them before, during and after the foster-to-adopt process.
“The weekly team meetings for parents have been wonderful,” said Jeremy Cheuvront. “We’ve always had between one and three people from the coalition helping us out at all times, alerting us to programs we need to know about, such as tutoring – which we didn’t end up needing since our kids are all pretty good students.”
LaShandra Cheuvront agreed. “They got our girls into the Birthday Buddy program. Our girls’ birthdays were extra special thanks to the love and support of people they didn’t even know," she said. "The programs and activities they have for the kids and parents have been wonderful.”
Parents considering foster care and adoption must be over 21 years old, free of a child abuse or criminal history and be employed or have adequate income for children. In addition, said Scheetz, “Something every adoptive family must be is willing to make a lifelong commitment to a child."
While the in-depth, four- to six-month training program and home-study process to become licensed foster or adoptive parents can be strenuous, the result is worth it for those parents who finally welcome their children home, especially in time for the holidays.
Said Jeremy Cheuvront, “For us, adoption has been the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, the desire we had for a family. As far as our extended family, they’ve been very welcoming and accepted our children right away. It’s been a great experience for everybody.”
By Nicole Plegge, Lifestyle Blogger for SmartParenting
Metro East mom Nicole Plegge is the lifestyle and pop culture blogger for STL Parent. Besides working as a freelance writer & public relations specialist, and raising two daughters and a husband, Nicole's greatest achievements are finding her misplaced car keys each day and managing to leave the house in a stain-free shirt. Her biggest regret is never being accepted to the Eastland School for Girls. Follow Nicole on Twitter @STLWriterinIL
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