One step at a time…

Published 9:17 pm Wednesday, November 29, 2006

By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
Mason and Gwen Minchew are taking another step in their lives. They are taking the extra step to build their family by adopting a son, William.
November is ‘Adoption Awareness Month' and in honor of the occasion, it seems only appropriate to profile the Minchews.
They have been foster parents for 10 years and are now in the process of adopting one of those children and making him a permanent part of their family.
Gwen said that the fact that she and her husband had no biological children was not the driving force to their wanting to adopt.
Adoption is the result of 10 years of fostering for the Minchews. They began in the foster program in 1996 and have been foster parents to more than 17 children over those years.
Mason Minchew is quiet and soft-spoken, but he nods and agrees with what his wife says.
Conversation with the Minchew family members leads one to see that they are firm believers in the fostering and adoption process.
and love them. Most people would be surprised to learn just how little it takes to make these children thrive. We are not rich, in fact we are probably one of the lowest income families DHR has.”
Most children qualify for Medicaid even after they are adopted. Older children and sibling groups also qualify for a subsidy until they reach adulthood. The Department of Human Resources try to keep family groups together and older children are often in the system longer than babies and younger children. It is much more cost effective and better for the children to be in private homes.
Those who work at DHR are looking for homes that will take teens. Most of those in Escambia County are now being sent outside the county to find foster homes.
Both Mason and Gwen were brought up in the Brewton area. They were allowed to spend a lot of time with their grandparents and had similar backgrounds.
They were married in 1991 and got into the foster program in 1996 through friends and programs they saw on television. According to them, they knew the problems with adopting older children and their goal from the beginning was to adopt an older child.
Although both of them are now substitute teachers, they are attending to Jefferson Davis Community College. Gwen is on the path to become a teacher. Mason is pursing a degree in computer drafting.
According to the Department of Human Resources, there were 380 children placed with adoptive families in 2006. This is more than the 325 in 2005 and the 315 in 2004. At the end of fiscal year 2006, there were approximately 630 waiting Alabama children to be adopted.
Of these, 380 will be adopted by their foster families, but the remaining 250 waiting children have no adoptive family identified.
The director of the Escambia County Department of Human Resources, Lynn Barnes, along with the other workers at DHR wants to make people aware of the need for those who care enough for a child (or a teen) to give them the love of a good home and family.

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