For most, the holidays are a time for fun, great food, and most importantly time with family and loved ones, but for many children in Allegheny County, their holidays will not be the same. While they may have the fun and food, many will be missing a permanent family.
|WE ARE FAMILY—Verley and Mark Cabbagestalk stand with their newly adopted daughter Dae’Quannna Stevens, Nov. 17, at the Allegheny County’s Children’s Court. (Photo by J.L. Martello)
Although many children will be asking Santa for a family, one family received their present early. Dae’Quanna Stevens, 15, lost her mother at an early age. After her mother’s death, she moved in with her grandparents, Mark and Verley Cabbagestalk, who after several years of being her caregivers, she now can call them her parents.
On Nov. 17, National Adoption Day, at the Allegheny County Department of Human Services’ National Adoption Day Celebration, Stevens’ adoption was finalized.
“We have always been a family, but the adoption just sealed the deal,” said Mark Cabbagestalk. He said Stevens decided she no longer wanted to be considered an orphan.
According to Adoption.org there are 400,000 children in the foster care system and 25 percent of those children are waiting for adoption or permanent placement. In Allegheny County, as of Oct. 1, there are 1,466 children in out-of-home placement; 1,166 children in foster care; and 680 children, who like Stevens, are placed with “kin,” which are relatives or close friends within their home community, according to the county Department of Human Services
During the county’s observance of National Adoption Day, the county’s Children’s Court finalized 42 adoptions and prior to that day, has finalized 148 adoptions in 2012, with children ranging in ages 16 months to 17 years old.
The Cabbagestalks are no strangers to adoption. They are strong advocates and have adopted two other children.
“Every child needs to have parents and deserves to be raised by two people who love and will care for them,” he said.
Allegheny County offers many resources to anyone interested in preparing to open their home to children in need of one. For more information on adoption or foster care, visit www.alleghenycounty.us/dhs/adopt.aspx.