WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)- The I-Team has learned the adoption and foster parent programs run by Catholic Social Services in Northeastern Pennsylvania will soon come to an end.
The news comes as a shock to hundreds of area families who have already adopted children through that program or had planned to adopt.
It really comes down to money, or lack thereof, according to officials of the Diocese of Scranton. Parents the I-Team spoke with are stunned by the news and hope the Diocese will make an about face on their decision.
“It’s something that’s needed in this area,” says adoptive father Andrew Lake. “It’s a resource for those children that is tremendous, it’s something we can’t lose.”
Lake says he could not believe it when he was told by an adoption caseworker that he would no longer be able to adopt a child through Catholic Social Services. He just adopted three-year-old Isabella and was planning on adopting another child.
“That’s another thing, it’s a lot of children that need homes whether they are newborn and all the way up to 18 years old,” says Lake.
Catholic Social Services is part of the Statewide Adoption Network (SWAN). The agency stopped taking referrals at the beginning of September.
Bishop of Scranton Diocese Joseph Bambera issued a statement, which read in part:
“It has become apparent that Catholic Social Services’ fiscal resources are increasingly strained. Because adoption is so closely aligned with Catholic Social Services’ mission and Catholic social teaching, this is a particularly painful step to take.”
“It’s very disheartening,” says Representative Tarah Toohil.
Toohil is very active in adoption and foster parenting programs across the Commonwealth. She herself has adopted several children and hopes the Diocese will rethink its decision.
“The statistics don’t lie,” says Toohil. “We have so many children in care, we have more children going into foster care and needed adoption more than ever.”
Toohil is concerned this decision will cause a backlog for other adoption agencies both public and private, and cause of backlog in adoptions.
The Diocese of Scranton says folks who want to adopt through a Catholic-related agency can contact St. Joseph’s Center in Scranton. It is part of the SWAN network.