DAYTON, Ohio — With abortion now illegal after six weeks in Ohio, more mothers could choose to give their children up for adoption if they carry out unwanted pregnancies.
Spencer and Malinda Izor are the proud adoptive parents of five kids in Dayton, who are working on adopting their sixth.
“We decided when we got married that’s how we were going to build our family,” Spencer said. “We could have gone through other means to have children ourselves, but this was a choice.”
They said their choice was motivated by making a positive impact on kids in child protective services.
“Something that I was really called to do was to be a voice and an advocate for children that have been abused and neglected and need forever homes,” Spencer said.
The Izors said they know the system pretty well after adopting five kids, so they know the system may struggle to keep up with how many kids are in child protective services.
“The system is already taxed, and with 'Roe' being overturned I think that it will become even more so,” Spencer said. “I think there will be much more of a need for safe haven facilities and funding to help support kids once they do find themselves in the system.”
As of July, there are 3,367 kids available for adoption across the state of Ohio, according to data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Cuyahoga County alone has 794 children seeking adoption, nearly twice as many as the next highest county, Hamilton, which has 371.
“This is an opportunity for us, as an agency, to talk about all of the benefits of adoption and foster care, and all of the opportunities that are available,” Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Matt Damschroder said.
Damschroder said Gov. Mike DeWine continues to be focused on health and wellness for mothers, babies and children.
ODJFS pointed to programs already in place to help shoulder the load — but the strain on the system is not only felt by the children but also the caseworkers.
“We want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to talk about how important children’s services social workers are in their communities, the role that they play,” Damschroder said. “The opportunities that people have to make a difference, and invite them into the field.”
The state is committing a $15 million grant to the Public Children’s Services Agency to bolster workforce recruitment and retention.
ODJFS provided information on services available to support pregnant women or new mothers, such as the Ohio Parenting and Pregnancy Program, WIC, SNAP and others.
The state is also putting $800 million toward helping child care programs defray unexpected business costs associated with the pandemic to help stabilize operations.
Damschroder is an adoptive parent himself, so knows things are likely to keep changing, but he hopes more families will step up to help kids waiting for a match.
“What the current situation gives us the opportunity to do is to promote the need for individuals to come forward to be foster parents and adoptive parents,” Damschroder said.
The Izors plan to foster and adopt as many kids as they can financially support, but worry the state could be heading down a slippery slope of outcomes for kids in protective services.
"A life that's been born doesn't necessarily mean that it's a life that's been saved,” Spencer said. “We see the impact of trauma and the impact that abuse, neglect and dependency [have] upon our kids. And those are lifelong impacts. Some of my kids have seen things more in their few short years of life than I'll ever see in my lifetime. I just worry that we are setting ourselves up for more kids to unfortunately have that experience."