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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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Americans are buying up rubber ducks ahead of Memorial Day, Nebraskans who want residential solar have a new lifeline, seven community colleges are working to provide students with a better experience, and Mississippi's "Big Muddy" gets restoration help.

Ohio mom finds reward in raising adopted daughter with special needs

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Tuesday, March 12, 2024   

This month is National Disability Awareness Month, and in Ohio, parents who've adopted kids with special needs say living with a disability isn't always a barrier to independence and thriving.

Aaryn McGregor, a nurse in Richland County, said her husband adopted 15-year-old Samantha from foster care nearly four years ago. Samantha was born without some of her organs and was placed in foster care as a toddler because of medical neglect.

With both physical and cognitive disabilities, Samantha has high needs for day-to-day care, but McGregor said she's made progress in her new home and is learning independent-living skills.

"We realize they have a disability, but we also want to see past that a little, just so that they can reach their full potential, it's not just the label, because people of all ages with disabilities, they can achieve a lot in their life. We think that's important," McGregor said.

Research shows children with disabilities have significantly more disruptions and longer stays in foster care. Of the more than 680,000 children in the U.S. foster care system in 2017, 22% had a medical or disability diagnosis requiring additional or specialized care.

Rita Soronen, president and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, said no matter what race, age or background, children with any type of disability or special needs are more likely to linger in foster care or age into institutional care. She said it's important for families interested in adoption to build a network of support, and points to the Wendy's Wonderful Kids Program as a model for pre-adoption relationship-building.

"Making those connections -- access to medical or psychological resources that they'll need before that adoption is finalized -- is critical, so that families feel that they will be supported, that they will have access, and that they can successfully raise a child in their home," she explained.

According to the Dave Thomas Foundation, its Wendy's Wonderful Kids Program is responsible for more than 14,000 successful adoptions across the United States and Canada.

Disclosure: Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, LGBTQIA Issues, Philanthropy, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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