DAYTON, Ohio — With abortion now illegal after six weeks in Ohio, more mothers may choose to give their children up for adoption if they have unwanted pregnancies.
Spencer and Malinda Izor are the proud adoptive parents of five children in Dayton, who are working towards adopting their sixth.
“We decided when we got married that this is how we were going to build our family,” Spencer said. “We could have gone through other means to have children ourselves, but it was a choice.”
They said their choice was motivated by having a positive impact on children in child protective services.
“Something I was really called to do was be a voice and an advocate for children who have been abused and neglected and need a forever home,” Spencer said.
The Izors said they are quite familiar with the system after adopting five children, so they know the system can struggle to keep up with the number of children in child protective services.
“The system is already taxed, and with the reversal of ‘Roe’, I think it will become even more so,” Spencer said. “I think there will be a lot more need for shelter facilities and funding to help support children once they find themselves in the system.”
Since July, there is 3,367 children available for adoption across the state of Ohio, according to data from the Ohio Department of Employment and Family Services.
Cuyahoga County alone has 794 children seeking adoption, nearly twice as many as the second-highest county, Hamilton, which has 371.
“This is an opportunity for us as an agency to talk about all the benefits of adoption and fostering, and all of the opportunities that are available,” said Matt Damschroder, Services Department Manager. at Ohio Jobs and Family.
Damschroder said Gov. Mike DeWine continues to focus on health and well-being for mothers, babies and children.
The ODJFS pointed to the programs already in place to help with the burden – but the strain on the system is not only felt by children but also by social workers.
“We want to make sure that we do everything we can to talk about the importance of child services social workers in their communities, the role that they play,” Damschroder said. “The opportunities for people to make a difference and to invite them onto the pitch.”
The state is committing a $15 million grant to the State Agency for Children’s Services to strengthen workforce recruitment and retention.
The ODJFS provided information on services available to support pregnant women or new mothers, such as the Ohio Parenting and Pregnancy Program, WIC, SNAP and others.
The state also puts $800 million to help child care programs cover unforeseen business costs associated with the pandemic to help stabilize operations.
Damschroder is a foster parent himself, so he knows things will likely continue to change, but he hopes more families will step in to help the kids waiting for a game.
“What the current situation gives us the opportunity to do is promote the need for individuals to come forward to be foster parents and adoptive parents,” Damschroder said.
The Izors plan to foster and adopt as many children as they can financially support, but fear the state is heading down a slippery slope of outcomes for children in protective services.
“A life that’s born doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a life that’s been saved,” Spencer said. “We see the impact of trauma and the impact that abuse, neglect and addiction [have] on our children. And these are lifelong impacts. Some of my children have seen more things in their few short years of life than I will ever see in my lifetime. I’m just worried that we’re preparing for more kids to unfortunately have that experience.”