ST. CLOUD -- The number of children who have been adopted here in Stearns County is up this year.

Brenda Mahoney is the Family and Children Services Division Director. She says the county has placed 40 children so far this year, compared to 35 kids being adopted all of last year. There are an additional 31 kids in the process of seeking an adoptive home.

Years ago I think we had more children that were in that process, sometimes it can be a lengthy process, but one of the things that we've really emphasized over the last few years is seeking relatives right away when children are not able to remain with their parents.

Mahoney says 58 percent of the kids in foster care are placed with relatives.

She says there are hundreds of kids across the state needing to be adopted.

There are currently about 730 children who still need adoptive families that haven't been identified for them.  About 55 to 60 percent of those children are siblings.  One of our emphasis is we really want to keep children together, we want to maintain those sibling connections and bonds.

Mahoney says most families start out at foster families and end up transitioning and adopting the kids in their homes. The process of becoming a foster or adoptive family includes a criminal background check for everyone in the home, an inspection of the home, and a series of training sessions. The licensing process can take one to six months, with the actual adoption taking about another six months.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month.

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