by Jack and Rachel Hopkins
(Son and daughter-in-law of local resident and business owner Jim Hopkins)
We are committed to adopting a child that will soon be leaving our care. He will be leaving because he has a distant family member, his grandfather’s half sister, who has also committed to adopting him. For the first eight years of his life, he has never known them and since stepping forward, they have spent two weekends with him, have written him a few letters, and called him less than a handful of times.
Prior to living with us, he was placed in a total of five (5) different foster homes including ours by the age of eight. He has lived with us for the past thirteen months and over that time we have bonded with him and he with us. He has become a part of our family, spending time with all of our family and friends over that time. He has come a long way since first being placed with us and we are amazed at the amount of growth and maturity that we have experienced while helping him through the emotional and psychological effects of his early childhood trauma and neglect. For those that knew him before, he has really come a long way emotionally, psychologically, and behaviorally.
Unfortunately, we are not given equal opportunity as a permanent placement option since we are not biological family. As a result, he is being removed from our care and is being moved out-of-state due to an Alaska statute that mandates that family members have preferential placement, no matter how far removed from the child’s life they may be. We on the other hand, feel that “family” is more than just a blood relation.
There are presently four states with statutes that mandate that if a child has been living with a foster family for a significant amount of time, then that foster home is the preferred placement for the child. There are also other states (at least one) that, depending on the location within the state, also honor the preferential placement of a foster child with the foster family if they have been placed there for a significant amount of time. It is our goal to see the current Alaska statute regarding preferential placement be changed.
We realize that this endeavor will make no difference in helping us to change the decision being made on his behalf by the Office of Children’s Services in accordance to the Alaska statute, but it is our hope that this endeavor will make a difference in the lives of future foster parents who wish to adopt a child that they have come to care for and love for a significant amount of time.
If you are an Alaskan resident and you feel that you can support this endeavor, you will find a web link here and below for an internet-based petition. Please take the time to sign the petition, so that we can take the next step on presenting the petition to Alaska legislators so that we can continue to see this injustice changed.
Also, if you know of other family and friends (Alaskan residents only) who may also support this petition, please forward this on to them as well. The more signatures we get the better the chance for change. We thank you for your support and encouragement.