Smoky Mountain Children’s Home is involved in both state (DCS) and private adoptions and serves as a fully licensed adoption agency. However, the large majority of work is with DCS children over the age of 13 or large sibling groups. SMCH has a real need to recruit homes that are willing to adopt adolescents. In 2008, SMCH completed 16 DCS adoptions and 2 private adoptions with at least 11 more in process.
We had a young lady named McKensie who was adopted into a family as a small child. Years later the adoption disrupted because of the adoptive parents’ physical abuse of McKensie. When SMCH Foster Family Care took McKensie into its program she was 14 years old and had just been released from the hospital as a result of her most recent beating from her adoptive parents. She was also malnourished to the point that she had large bald spots in her hair.
McKensie's scars from this experience went much deeper than the physical scars. McKensie felt so unloved and unwanted that she refused to let anyone get close to her. She disrupted foster home after foster home and would generally stay in one place for no more than two months because she would get scared of getting too close to the parents; therefore, she would act out behaviorally to force them to move her. Because of what McKensie had gone through, she felt that it was a life or death situation—she must protect herself from ever trusting an adult again. We were running out of options for McKensie, but we had one last home that was willing to take her. The road was long and difficult, but this family refused to give up on McKensie—as everyone else had done. They eventually earned her trust and love. McKensie's whole appearance began to change due to the self-worth that she gained from knowing that she was loved. McKensie was one of the children adopted this year, but there are many other children with very similar stories that are needing a forever family that will take them in and love them with the unconditional love that we all so desperately need.
Requirements, Training & Adoption Process
The primary requirement for becoming a foster parent for Smoky Mountain Children’s Home in the State of Tennessee is PATH (Parent’s as Tender Healers) certification. PATH classes take up to ten (10) weeks to complete. The classes help train you on what to expect with foster children, like behaviors, medications, school, etc. These training tools also prepare you to become a successful foster parent. During the first training sessions you will have a parent packet to complete as a personnel file for our agency. The packet will consist of background checks, medical forms, policies to read and sign, and questionnaires to allow us to know more about you and your family. During the next step—once everything is completed from the packet and PATH—our agency will visit your home to compile a home study. When the PATH training, parent packet, and home study are finished and brought to our agency, we can begin the approval process by entering your home’s information into the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services Resource Home Database.
Our foster children range in different levels of care and ages. Our agency cares for children with Level One and Level Two behaviors. Our Level One children have little or no behavior issues, while Level Two children have behaviors that require services from therapists, physicians, and/or prescription medications. The ages of our children consist mostly of teenagers, but some smaller aged children do get placed with our agency. They usually come to us with a sibling group of two or more with different age ranges. An example would be a sibling group of four with their ages ranging from 5 years old – 17 years old. We do not get babies and seldom ever get children younger than five years old or by themselves at a young age.
Our adoption program begins through our Foster Care Department. The children for whom we care come to our agency for us to provide services in order that they may return back home to their families. Sometimes there is no one in the child’s family available to take them back, which allows the children the option to become adoptable once their parent’s rights have been terminated by the court system. The majority of children that come into our care are not immediately adoptable. The process takes around six months or more to realize what the permanent and future goals are for the children before we can clarify if the option can be adoption. Our agency provides the services needed to begin and finalize an adoption once the appropriate foster family is identified.
For more information about adoption please contact Melody Jones - SMCH Adoption Specialist.