Critics call proposed adoption center an orphanage

Adoption advocates and a local group are clashing over what is best for foster children. A local group hopes to build a home for children without families to live while awaiting adoption. Some people call the proposed project a new version of an old institution – the orphanage.

Julie Rich is among one of four adopted children and an adoptive parent. She says her personal experiences as a child made her want to change the system.

Rich, her husband and a host of social agencies, doctors, and community leaders want to open “Our Children’s Home”—what she calls an adoption placement center. Julie Rich says children would be placed at the center by agencies and only after legal options are exhausted with the child’s birth parents. Everyone who works at the center would mentor a child.

But adoption policy makers say the project is an orphanage. They say it is difficult to keep siblings together; there is little stability due to high staff turnover and children’s emotional health is damaged. They say instead of creating institutions for children, changes need to be made so that families can stay together.

Franklin County Children Service officials say last year 85 percent of the children placed in foster care were reunited with their families. The agency currently has some 23-hundred children in foster care.