(WAFB) - For the second year in a row, Louisiana broke a record when it comes to the number adoptions out of foster care.
During the fiscal year of October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017, 771 foster children were adopted statewide. That exceeds the 735 children adopted the year before, which was itself a record.
Sec. Marketa Walters with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) says while she is proud to see her agency breaking records, her main priority is finding good homes for kids. "Adoption is permanency, and that's what it gives a child. It's lets them know they are loved unconditionally," she said.
Walters says she believes two factors are driving the record-breaking years. She says her staff has put a lot of effort into getting the relatives of foster kids to go through the adoption process, so they are not just caring for them, but have legal custody. She also says they also have made a push to get families to adopt whole sibling groups, not just one child at a time. According to data from DCFS, roughly one-third of the 548 families that adopted last year took in two or more kids.
"It sets up for next year to really wonder, 'Can we do it again?' But we know there are so many kids out there," she said.
Recently, Michele and Brandon Krieg from the Prairieville area opened their home to two young girls: Violet, 7, and Meadow, 6. Biological sisters, for the past several years, the girls have bounced from house to house and from foster family to foster family.
On their first night with the couple, Michele said, one of the girls asked if they had found their "forever home."
"Well, we can make it happen," Brandon said in reply.
Violet and Meadow arrived at the Kriegs' house in May. By November, the couple adopted the girls. "It was just a good fit. They just immediately melted into the family," Michele said.
Michele says she's grateful to have the opportunity to give the girls a home, but, she says it turns out they have already given her so much more. "You can't ever have too much love in your life. You can't have too many people to love and love you back," she said.
Looking to the next year, Walters says her agency is going to put greater focus on helping older foster kids, those that sometimes fall through the cracks when it comes to adoption.