NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — No matter what historic new chapters come in this pandemic, a fact remains. There are thousands of children in Tennessee waiting to be adopted. Youth Villages says the beginning of the pandemic slowed the number of potential parents calling to foster or adopt a child. Now, they weigh in on if their number of adoptions returned to normal.
Being an only child was just not what Caleb wanted. He wanted someone to join him on the swings, on the monkey bars.
"We knew that Caleb wanted a brother or sister to play with," said mom Alisa.
"I just felt lonely," Caleb added.
Parents Alisa and Brian made a decision. They adopted Elijah.
"They are basically the same boy," laughed dad Brian, the two boys playing on swings a few feet away. "I'm thrilled that we seem to have found true brothers."
Alisa and Brian adopted through Youth Villages during a historic time. Youth Villages told us in the early days of the pandemic, when many were isolated in their homes, the calls of interest to foster and adopt children dropped down for a while. Further complicating matters was the closure of courts in the early days of the pandemic. Adoptions eventually resumed with court hearings by Zoom. Suzanne Jones of Youth Villages said the concerns families carried about adding someone to their home in a pandemic quickly faded.
"Although we were in the pandemic, there was this immense need for children to have some sense of security in a time when nobody had any," Jones said.
So, did their adoption rate return to normal? Jones told us in 2019, pre-pandemic, the middle Tennessee chapter had 79 adoption finalizations. In 2020, after a brief stretch of hesitancy, they saw 80 adoption finalizations, roughly the same as the year before.
Alisa and Brian said their decision ultimately came down to this.
"I can't stand the thought of me saying 'no' and a child not having a place to go," said Alisa.
"See this, guys? It says...Wanted. Loved. Adopted. Chosen," said Elijah, holding up an inscription he's worn around his neck since his adoption a few weeks ago.
"It is exciting to assure Elijah that he is part of this family, and it's never going to go away," said Alisa.