Mix of cheers and tears at adoption day in Liberty County

Dominique Jackson (top right) is jubilant as the adoption of her little sister, Niiveah, becomes final Monday in Liberty County. Her cousin, Erhonda Jackson, adopted Niiveah's sister, Laila.

Dominique Jackson couldn’t stop smiling Monday as she appeared before Judge Don Taylor in the Liberty Municipal Court chamber. After caring for her young sister, Niiveah, for the last couple of years, Dominique was ready to make the situation more permanent through adoption.

Surrounded by dozens of family members wearing matching blue T-shirts that read: “Jackson: Today is the Day,” Dominique swore to the judge that she was willing to take on the upbringing of her little sister. After hearing from the caseworkers assigned to Niiveah’s case, Taylor signed off on the adoption as Dominique and her family cheered.

For the Jackson family, Monday was a double celebration as Niiveah’s younger sister, Laila, was adopted by a cousin, Erhonda Jackson.

The two adoptions were among a total of 10 performed Monday in Liberty. The adoptions were timed to coincide with November being National Adoption Month. All of the children were taken from homes in Liberty County, though many were placed in foster homes in Harris County.

“The oldest one here today was in care for 10 years. It takes some time for some of these children to be adopted. Their case has to go through all the appeals,” said Leshia Fisher, Children’s Protective Services regional director for a 12-county area of Texas that surrounds Harris County.

After 27 years with CPS, Fisher has seen a lot of adoptions and never tires of them.

“This is my favorite time of the year. It’s a time when families come together permanently,” Fisher said.

Over the last couple of weeks, Fisher said her office has assisted in nine adoptions in Montgomery County, 21 adoptions in Galveston County, 10 in Fort Bend and 10 in Liberty County.

“This work is not going away, sad to say,” she said. “One of the things we strive for is finding foster families in these counties. We want to keep these kids connected to their homes, schools and churches. We try to make it as less traumatizing as we can.”

The challenge for children pulled from homes in Liberty County is the lack of foster homes. According to Cyndie Abshire, president of the Liberty County Child Welfare Board, there are currently 167 children from Liberty County in foster homes. Another 60 are from Chambers County. Between the two neighboring counties, there are only 13 foster homes.

“That’s very, very low. A lot of children are placed with relatives. There is a push for that and it seems to work for them to be in kinship care. However, we need more foster homes in Liberty County,” Abshire said.

According to Fisher, one of the best options for increasing foster homes is faith-based initiatives. More church involvement is needed to help these children in crisis.

“I have staff that are dedicated to working with the churches. We can be available to come talk to church groups whenever it is convenient,” Fisher said. “Not everyone is called to be a foster family, but there are many ways to help.”

One suggestion, Fisher said, is through donations to the Rainbow Room, which is managed by the Liberty County Child Welfare Board and the local CPS office. The Rainbow Room is a storeroom of items that are needed by children in an emergency removal from their homes. Items range from car seats, diapers and wipes, to clothing and shoes.

To find out more about becoming a foster parent or to contribute to the CPS Rainbow Room, call 936-336-7283 or email Cyndie Abshire at cyndieabshire@yahoo.com.

By Vanesa Brashier, editor@bluebonnetnews.com

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