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Finding homes

In honor of the month of May, National Foster/Adoptive Parent month, the Onondaga County Department of Social Services Homefinding Unit has been working to let all communities know what amazing things have happened through the program.

In particular, the Homefinding Unit will host an appreciation dinner of the parents on May 21 at the Doubletree Hotel, East Syracuse.

The head of homefinding services Barbara Gifford has experienced the pleasure of meeting the parents that come into the program for more than three years. Gifford has worked with the county's social services children's division for more than 34 years.

"It takes a very special type of person to do what they do," Gifford said about the people that become foster or adoptive parents.

Because many children are given up to social services, she said the main goal would be to reunite families if at all possible.

"Children come here experiencing trauma of some kind," Gifford said. "Very few times it's the case of the child having too many needs or the parent(s) are hospitalized."

All of the material the organization sends out in preparation for May is to remind members of all communities of the services that foster and adoptive parents provide, as well as the opportunities there are for new parents to join.

"We want to emphasize the rewards the children and new parents will give each other," said assistant director of the Children's Division Mary Schapley.

The next recruitment information session on foster and adoptive parenting is on May 6 at the Dewitt Public Library.

"It's all about getting the word out to people," Gifford said about the information session. "Some people wait a long time before they make that step and come to a meeting."

The Homefinding Unit generally hosts a recruitment session once a month for about eight months out of the year.

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