Balloons launched for National Adoption Month - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Balloons launched for National Adoption Month

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Hundreds of balloons took to the skies at 2 p.m. Saturday at launch sites all across the state in honor of National Adoption Month.

Children released 40 balloons at Dubuque's Kid Expo at the Grand River Center.

The balloons represented the 4,000 Iowa children currently in foster care, according to event organizer Iowa KidsNet.

Iowa KidsNet recruits, trains, retains and supports foster parents, after performing background checks on potential foster parents.

Adoptive and foster parent Karen Fox has been a foster parent for the past four years. She said it's been one of the most rewarding things she's ever done.

"These kids are our future, and they deserve structure and love and support, unconditional, you know? And anybody can do it, if you open your home and your heart," Fox said.

Fox went to the Dubuque balloon launch with her foster children and two adopted daughters. Fox adopted her two girls after being their foster mom, but Fox has opened her home to many more children in the four years she's been a foster parent.

"I've had about 18, 19," she said.

She now has her two daughters plus four foster children. It's something she said she wanted to do since she can't have kids of her own.

"So I thought, 'Foster care. You know, I can adopt a child through that.' And then going through the classes, I just learned I had a lot of strengths and that I can help families heal, you know, and reunify," Fox said.

Iowa KidsNet foster parent recruiter Jennifer Avenarius said reunifying is a key word.

"Definitely the ultimate goal is to reunite them with their birth parents, but that's not always possible or safe for the children," she said.

Avenarius was a foster parent until she and her husband decided to adopt two little boys who came under their care.

"I'd take them all home, if I could. Unfortunately, my house isn't big enough," she said.

Both she and Fox said fostering and adopting is a challenge, but it's one that's rewarding.

"There is negative sides, there's heartbreaking sides, but the positives outweigh the negatives," Fox said.

The positives, she said, include knowing she's giving her foster and adopted kids a hope for the future.

Iowa KidsNet says of the 4,000 Iowa kids currently in foster care, 600 are legally free for adoption.

For more information on becoming a foster or adoptive parent, click HERE or see the link on the left of this page.

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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