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Foster Parents turn to Adoption Network Cleveland to navigate public adoption

Often, parents face a variety of barriers on their adoption journey before a placement is finalized. For families working their way through the process of adopting a child, becoming a foster parent, or providing care to a relative through a kinship arrangement, there are usually many questions that need to be answered.

That’s where Julius Jackson comes in. As Adoption Network Cleveland’s Permanency Navigator, his role is to help these inquiring families increase the likelihood of successfully navigating the training, application, home study and placement process for a child in need.

Heidi Shunk has worked alongside Julius since 2008 when she and her husband Roy began their journey as foster parents, hoping ultimately to adopt from the public child welfare system. Along the way, Heidi and Roy have been dedicated to helping the children placed in their home. They have fostered eight children, helping them transition home to their biological families. 

Nearly two years ago, a 2-year-old boy was placed in their home in foster care. As his case unfolded and his needs evolved, the Shunk’s have moved toward becoming his permanent family.

"I started working with them in 2008, and they were involved with a Navigator here before me," Julius says. "Heidi and Roy have fostered multiple children, they’ve helped primary families reunite, and they’ve wanted to become adoptive parents. They’ve been persistent and dedicated throughout the process."

The Shunk family remains in contact with the biological parents, and Heidi and Roy have remained resilient with the ups and downs as the adoption process moves forward. Heidi is hopeful the adoption will be finalized in January.

Heidi and Roy have been steadfast in their hopes to adopt a child, and with guidance from Julius they have been able to navigate through the paperwork, questions, and options with guidance and support. 

"It has been amazing working with Julius," Heidi says. "We learned what to ask. It’s been a two-year process trying to adopt, but so well worth it."

Julius also helps guide current or prospective kinship families through various processes, including guardianship, legal custody, and adoption, as well as to educate individuals on their options. The pros and cons of each process can be weighed specific to each situation to determine what is best for the child and each individual family.

We ask families adopting privately to become Navigator members of Adoption Network Cleveland. If you are interested in adopting from the public child welfare system (foster care), a Navigator membership isn't required, but we ask you to become a Family (Basic) or Individual member.

Our Permanency Navigator helps create and sustain families by offering support to parents throughout their journey, and helps children in need by assisting in finding "forever families" for them. Learn more about our Navigator services.

Evan Caroline Clark is the Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator at Adoption Network Cleveland.

Photo Caption: Julius Jackson on the phone.