By Caroline Cardwell
November is National Adoption Month, a time to honor adoptive families and to raise awareness of adoption services. For the staff at UMFS (formerly known as United Methodist Family Services), however, adoption is a year-round priority.
Adoptions for All Ages
“What sets UMFS apart is the wide range of ages involved in adoptions,” said Courtney Mills, program director of the UMFS Fredericksburg Regional Center. “The adoptions we’ve handled have ranged from infants to 17-year-olds. We had one youth adopted three weeks before his 18th birthday, just before he would have aged out of foster care. He wanted so much to be part of a family and didn’t know what he’d do when he turned 18.”
A Different Child
The youth, Jamie* (name has been changed), had started his therapeutic journey in UMFS’ intensive treatment program and had transitioned to treatment foster care with a local family, who later chose to adopt him.
“Jamie became a different child once he knew the adoption was on the table,” said UMFS social worker Terry Martin. “It was like a weight lifted off his shoulders.”
Jamie’s family continues to foster other children, and “he’s very supportive of that and of the foster children in his family,” added Mills. Jamie was accepted by a well-known university, but chose to stay at home and attend a local college, so that he could have the support of his parents and learn new skills.
“We are very proud of him,” said Martin. “He is a very positive young man.”
UMFS has been serving children, youth and families in Virginia since 1900. The UMFS Fredericksburg Regional Center, located at 305 Charlotte Street, has served the Fredericksburg area since 1996. For more information about the UMFS network of services, including adoption services, visit www.umfs.org, or call 540-898-1773.
Caroline Cardwell is the Communications and Public Relations Manager for UMFS (United Methodist Family Services). She is a graduate of the College of William and
Mary and the University of Richmond, and a former editor of the VBA News Journal and the Virginia Lawyer.