CLEVELAND — Hundreds of thousands of kids across the country are waiting for their forever home. In Ohio alone, nearly 16,000 children are waiting for foster homes or permanent homes, meaning families are needed to help give these children a safe loving home.

What You Need To Know

  • Ruthie Longberry and her family adopted 2-year-old Maverick

  • Nearly 16,000 children in Ohio need foster or permanent homes

  • Ruthie Longberry and Lori McCarthy were both adopted as babies and are not both mothers of adopted children.

Ruthie Longberry and her family answered the call to give a child a home. They met Maverick when he was 8 months old and in need of a forever family.

They knew they wanted him to be a part of their family, and several months later, they made it official though it looked a bit different because of the pandemic.

"So we wanted an in-person court adoption,” Longberry said. “Me, being adopted, I really wanted to have that experience with him and the whole family and everybody coming together. So we were a little taken back just that we couldn't have an in person adoption.”

Maverick is now 2 years old. Longberry said when he first came to live with her family, his eyes looked sad and there were concerns because he was born addicted to drugs. But now, she said he's a completely different baby.

"He's smiling every day,” she said. “He's a happy boy. He eats so much food. He repeats everything that we say. He's literally a new person.”

Longberry and baby Maverick have something in common. When Longberry was 7 weeks old she was adopted from Romania. It's a connection she said she and Maverick will always have.

"Birth moms go through a lot and they ultimately make the best decision that they can for their child,” she said. “You know, it depends on their situation the birth mom made a decision to give their child up to someone who could actually love and care for the child even though that they couldn't. So, being that I'm adopted and he's adopted, we have that special bond. It's not like nobody wanted you. It's of course your birth mom wanted you she couldn't take care of you."

Much like Longberry, Lori McCarthy has a similar story.

"My husband and I got married in 1986 and at that time we already knew that there was infertility issues that we were dealing with so we really had no problem creating our family through adoption," said McCarthy.

Lori and her husband are now the parents of six adopted kids, and she has a unique connection to her adopted children too.

"Went right home with my parents that became my adoptive parents,” McCarthy said. “My birth mother and my birth father were not married. She was divorced and already had a couple of kids and just wasn't able to do it. So I was placed in a typical closed adoption for the era.”

As each family celebrates the holidays, they think of the many children still waiting for a forever home. They encourage anyone interested in adopting to do their research and to consider opening their homes to a child who needs love.

"The most important message is: children always need a home and people who are considering adopting older children, you don't stop needing a family when you're 18. You don't. You always need a family," said McCarthy.

"Don't let the pandemic stop you,” Longberry said. “There are children, many children, waiting that need homes. It might take a little longer but that's okay because just a little bit of longer means a whole lifetime of someone's happiness.”

Betsie Norris is the executive director of the Adoption Network Cleveland. She was adopted as a baby and now works to provide resources for families in all stages of adoption.

"We have programing for families who are raising their kids and that could be kids that are adopted privately, kids that are adopted through foster care, to help those families be resilient and cope. Especially these days with everything that's going on," said Norris.

Norris said it's important to continue providing support to adoptive families and to educate people on how adoption works.