Safe, loving homes give children strength – The Seattle Times

Paul Rucker felt from an early age that he was a lucky child.

He spent his childhood with his parents, Evelyn and Jack, and sister, Andrea, in the same neighborhood as the children’s home operated by Children’s Home Society of Washington in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood from where he was adopted as a baby. He had an elementary school friend who was still living at the children’s home.

For Rucker, home meant stability, security and love.

“It was a very strange moment when I realized that I got to go home and my childhood friend was going to the children’s home,” Rucker said. “When I reflect, I have a profound sense of gratitude that I had a safe, loving home while growing up.”

Children’s Home Society of Washington’s history began in 1896 as an adoption provider in Washington state. Rucker was one of the more than 28,000 children adopted through Children’s Home Society of Washington.

Over the years, the nonprofit’s services have expanded, but the goal remains the same – create permanent, loving homes for children.

Children’s Home Society of Washington is working keep children out of the foster care system or move children out of the system as quickly as possible.

In 2014, 3,213 children were waiting to be adopted in Washington state.

The Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program offered by Children’s Home Society of Washington and supported by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption primarily helps children between the ages of 8-17 and those with special needs find permanent homes. By the time these children are referred to the program, 86 percent are older than age 8, 35 percent have had six or more placements in foster homes, and 53 percent have been in foster care for more than four years.

In 2013, a five year-study showed that older children and those with mental health challenges were three times more likely to be adopted than those not participating in the program.

Currently, the Washington State Legislature is considering funding the expansion of the program through a public-private partnership with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. By the end of the second year of the expansion, a minimum of 250 children will be served to help them find nurturing and loving homes. Citizens can voice their support by calling their Senate and House representatives.

If you are interested in learning more about adopting a child from foster care, Northwest Adoption Exchange features profiles of children who are waiting to be adopted. The website also includes adoption tips and resources to help through the process.

Rucker knows living in a safe, loving home in his childhood had a significant impact on his life. He now serves as executive director of the University of Washington Alumni Association.

Rucker believes every child deserves the same opportunity he had.

“You are making an amazing expression of love by adopting or fostering a child,” Rucker said. “Everyone benefits when you decide to help children in foster care. It means a stronger community and society for all of us.”

In 1896, Children’s Home Society of Washington was founded by the Rev. Harrison D. Brown and his wife, Libbie Beach Brown, who believed children should be living in homes, not institutions. Our mission is to develop healthy children, create strong families, build engaged communities and advocate for children.

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