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Backpacks for the adopted put together

T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK Belmont County Juvenile and Probate Judge Al Davies launches a program this year to provide free backpacks to adopted children and their families.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Starting this year, adopted children and adoptive families in Belmont County will be getting some new backpacks as gifts through the court system.

Juvenile and Probate Court Judge Al Davies announced the program last week.

“We just started the program. It is offered through the Jockey Being Family Foundation,” he said, adding the program was founded in 2005. “The chairman of the Jockey Being Family Foundation was adopted, and so she has obviously a special place in her heart for kids, adoptive families, and she wanted to start a program to raise awareness and support for post-adoption services.

“They provide a lot of services for adoptive kids and parents, and one of the things they will do is partner with various agencies to provide backpacks for the kids and backpacks for the adoptive parents,” Davies said. “We became aware of the program, contacted the company and we are now involved in providing these backpacks.”

Davies said backpacks come with a blanket and a teddy bear. He said the materials are of good quality, and the backpacks are personalized for the child.

“We can put the child’s initials on the backpack as well,” he said. “It’s all free. There’s no taxpayer expense associated with this because it’s all through the cooperation and partnership with Jockey.”

“We think it’s going to be very well-received by the kids and by the parents,” he said. “We just rolled it out. We have an adoption hearing scheduled next week in January, so that will be the first time we provide a backpack to the child and to the parents. That will be our initial one, and we’ll continue to do it throughout the year, as long as we are eligible to continue to receive these, we’ll continue to do it.”

Davies said his court normally handles about three adoptions a month.

“Approximately 30 adoptions a year, I’d say,” Davies said. “These will be primarily used for infant adoptions of children zero to 2. However it’s not limited to any age group, but most of our adoptions are in that range because they are kids that were parents who lost custody or surrendered custody, or were placed in foster care. It’s usually a foster parent that is adopting the child. That’s the majority … the other main one is a step-parent adoption where a step-parent adopts the child of the spouse they’re married to. We won’t make any distinction. We will do this for all adoptions, regardless of the child’s age.”

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