Adopting Children in Foster Care – Debunking the Myths

National Adoption Day pic
National Adoption Day
Image: nationaladoptionday.org

Judge John Bowman has more than a decade of experience in the Juvenile Dependency Division of the Florida Circuit Court. Outside of the courtroom, he advocates for youth in foster care through National Adoption Day.

National Adoption Day serves to increase awareness of the more than 100,000 children waiting for permanent homes. Among the barriers to adoption are numerous myths, such as the myth that financial and other forms of support to the child end immediately after an adoption. The truth is that most children placed in permanent homes qualify for federal and state assistance and receive benefits such as monthly financial support, medical care, and social services.

Another myth that hinders adoption is that individuals who are gay or lesbian cannot adopt children. In most states they do have the right to adopt, and some states allow them to adopt jointly.

Finally, some people believe that children in foster care come with a lot of emotional “baggage.” Most children in foster care are just like other children and simply need a loving, permanent family so that they can thrive and fulfill their potential.

Debunking the Myths about Adoption Costs

National Adoption Day pic
National Adoption Day
Image: nationaladoptionday.org

 

A graduate of St. Thomas University with a juris doctor, Judge John Bowman serves as a circuit judge in the state of Florida. Also an advocate for adoption, Judge John Bowman participates in National Adoption Day.

Since the inception of National Adoption Day in 2000, the event has helped more than 58,000 children find permanent families. However, there are still more than 100,000 children in foster care who are waiting for permanent homes. One of the barriers to placing these children in permanent homes is the myth that adopting a child from foster care is expensive.

Contrary to what many families believe, adopting a child from foster care is not costly. In fact, it has the potential to be free, since many adoption agencies do not charge families who choose to adopt a child in foster care. Further, many companies and government agencies now offer adoption assistance programs as part of employee benefits. Some companies even offer financial benefits as well as maternity or paternity leave for those who choose to adopt a child.

Lastly, adoptive parents now benefit from a tax credit for adoption-related expenses, including court fees as well as travel and legal expenses. In 2014, this tax credit allowed families to obtain up to $13,190 to offset expenses associated with adoption.

National Adoption Day in Florida

Adoption pic
Adoption
Image: childnet.us

Circuit Judge John Bowman serves the people of Broward County, Florida. A good deal of Judge John Bowman’s work deals with children and young people in the state. November 22, 2016, will mark his 14th year as chairman of the local National Adoption Day event, which he helped to create.

Each November, Broward County celebrates adoption and the wonderful parents who make it possible. On one special Saturday, dozens of families gather to make their adoptions official at the same time.

ChildNet, Florida’s dedicated service for children and families, has been holding the event for well over a decade. Although adoptions occur year-round, but the festive event draws a lot of attention and helps raise awareness for the kids who are still awaiting homes.

Today, there are 200 children awaiting loving homes in Broward and Palm Beach counties. If your family is considering adopting a new member, learn more about the process online at www.childnet.us/portal/adoption.

Juvenile Health and Wellness Services in the Florida Court System

Juvenile Assessment Center pic
Juvenile Assessment Center
Image: djj.state.fl.us

Circuit Judge John Bowman presides over civil trial courts in the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, area. Throughout his career, Judge John Bowman has contributed greatly to the juvenile justice system in Broward County. He has been active with the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and the juvenile detention system.

When a young person in Broward County is taken into police custody, he or she is taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC). The central intake facility works to ensure that youth receive whatever services they need to be safe and cared for while also protecting the community.

The Juvenile Assessment Team (JAT) helps assess young people to make sure that individuals who need mental health care or help with substance abuse receive those services. JAT can also provide services to young people referred from other parts of the justice system, such as juvenile probation or the Intervention Program.

These programs help prevent juvenile arrests by directing young people toward the behavioral or mental health services that can help them succeed.

How Elected Officials Can Support National Adoption Day

National Adoption Day pic
National Adoption Day
Image: nationaladoptionday.org

For nearly 15 years, Judge John Bowman has served as a circuit judge in the 17th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, working with the Juvenile Dependency Division in Fort Lauderdale. Dedicated to helping children in foster care find permanent homes, Judge John Bowman supports programs like National Adoption Day, an awareness campaign focused on the more than 100,000 children looking for permanent homes outside of the foster care system.

As a collective effort, National Adoption Day receives support from nonprofit organizations, individuals, and businesses. The campaign literature also notes that there are a number of ways for elected officials to contribute to adoption awareness. For example, the campaign encourages elected officials to cosponsor a resolution or issue a public proclamation recognizing National Adoption Day.

Elected officials can easily reach the public with messages about adoption through Facebook and other social media outlets. To reach an even wider audience, elected officials can conduct interviews or submit op-ed pieces to local news outlets highlighting the need for adoption.

For National Adoption Day in November, elected officials can also organize or support local adoption events in recognition of a day when the courts finalize adoptions around the country. Almost 50,000 adoptions have been completed on National Adoption Day since the campaign was launched in 2000.

The Founding of the One Community Partnership

Broward County One Community Partnership pic
Broward County One Community Partnership
Image: broward.org

Since his election to the circuit court bench of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Judge John Bowman has spearheaded numerous community-wide efforts to transform the area’s Juvenile Dependency division. In this capacity, Judge John Bowman served as the judicial representative on the board of the Broward County One Community Partnership.

A number of local leaders from Broward County spearheaded efforts to create the One Community Partnership in response to a growing need for reformed children’s mental health care services. At the time that the partnership began, over 400,000 children lived in the county, with a tenth of them experiencing some form of serious emotional disturbance (SED). Broward County had previously implemented a centralized system of SED cases but the local Board of County Commissioners initiated a more comprehensive reevaluation plan in 2002. After receiving an $8 million System of Care grant from the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services Program for Children and their Families, the plan soon took form as the One Community Partnership.

Over the next six years, the partnership focused its work on creating a new system of care that would best serve children with SED who are between the ages of 10 and 18. Among its many goals, One Community Partnership aimed to enhance the emotional health services for children and families, bring more cultural diversity to the system, and increase the number of services available to children with different needs.

Volunteer Training in the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program

Guardian ad Litem pic
Guardian ad Litem
Image: guardianadlitem.org

After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Florida Atlantic University, Judge John Bowman went on to receive his JD from St. Thomas University, and in 2002, he was elected to the position of circuit civil judge in Ft. Lauderdale. As an active public servant, Judge John Bowman received the Community Advocate of the Year award in 2007 from the Florida Guardian ad Litem program (GAL), an organization whose mission is to give a voice to children.

GAL volunteers must undergo training to learn how to advocate effectively for children who have been taken away from their families due to abuse or neglect. Volunteer advocates may be attorneys, welfare professionals, or community members, and their job is to advocate in court for children who are often scared and too young to navigate the legal system alone.

GAL provides volunteers with a variety of training and resource opportunities. Topics and certifications include promoting normalcy for foster youth, child welfare and human trafficking, transitioning foster youth to permanency, and navigating Medicaid, as well as other information relevant to children in foster care. Training may be done via instructional videos, state and local conferences, and online learning modules to equip volunteers for the role of court advocate.