In 1953, JFS assisted with its first infant adoption in the Richmond Community. This came at a time when the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Association (LHBA), now JFS, wanted programs to better care for families and children. In the sixty years since the birth of the adoption program, JFS has expanded its adoption options to serve families interested in international adoption, assisting diverse families, and now, JFS is helping older children find a permanent home, a forever family.
While there continues to be a need for domestic and international infant adoption, Virginia’s Child Welfare Crisis has progressed and now Virginia has 600+ children available for adoption and 4,000+ children in the foster care system.
In an effort to expand the JFS Adoption program to help all children, regardless of age, JFS formed a new partnership with Connecting Hearts in Virginia. Connecting Hearts advocates on behalf of all the children who have yet to find their forever family by raising awareness of foster to adoption programs and sharing the stories of children who continue to need a home.
For Connecting Hearts, the mission to find permanent loving homes for every child in Virginia – whether it’s through re-unification, kinship (relative) care or adoption – is personal. Deborah J. Johnston is an adoptee and founder of Connecting Hearts. In August 2014, Governor Terry McAuliffe appointed Deborah as Adoption Champion of Virginia; a few months later, Connecting Hearts was born to help solve the child welfare crisis.
This January, Connecting Hearts joined forces with JFS and moved into the JFS offices at 6718 Patterson Avenue. JFS is proud to work with Chloe Edwards, Connecting Hearts’ Program Director. Chloe continues to make every child’s story a personal mission, as she was placed in Kinship Foster Care at the age of fifteen.
As part of this partnership, JFS Adoption Counselor Jessica Carty, LCSW, will be working with Chloe to expand Connecting Hearts’ services. Already, this partnership of JFS and Connecting Hearts has launched a Waiting Family Support Group for Licensed Foster Parents waiting for placement with a child.
Every partnership, every choice, and every program is formed to ensure we transform a life and strengthen our community, daily. JFS is thrilled to work with Connecting Hearts to better serve everyone in our community.