By Andy McKeever
07:37PM / Friday, November 22, 2013
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Angie Butler and Tim Barnes already raised four kids.
But they had all grown up and the beds were empty.
Then in 2011, Butler met 2-year-old Kyler.
Kyler was in the care of the Department of Children and Families after being removed from an unsafe home. He was in a foster home in as many years as he had lived.
But as of Friday, Kyler has a permanent home after Butler and Barnes legally adopted him.
“I am a preschool teacher and he was in one of my classes. They needed a home for him,” Butler said at the adoption ceremony.
In August 2011, Butler and Barnes became foster parents to Kyler and on Friday, they became a legal family. The family doesn’t want Kyler, now age 4, to have to go through yet another foster home.
“We’ve got four adult children who are on their own. We had the beds,” Barnes said, adding that he sees adoption as a way to help society.
It wasn’t just Kyler who received a “forever family” on Friday. Inside the Juvenile Court on North Street, 11 adoptions were performed as part of an effort to spread awareness of the services.
“It’s a time for people to celebrate. It’s a time to be recognized,” said Lori Kays, area resource coordinator for DCF. “It’s just an awesome day.”
The day was filled with fun and included the Taconic High School chorus setting the mood with song, a performance by David Grover, and food and children’s activities. But, at the same time, it was shedding light on a real issue. Kays says there is a lot of misnomers about adoption and there is a great need for families.
In Berkshire County, there are more than 300 children in foster care, she said, and often moving in and out of homes. The organization is focused on finding good families for all of them.
“We have a great need for foster parents and preadoptive parents,” Kays said. “We have a great need because kids are coming into our care regularly.”
Each year, the organization performs about 35 adoptions and has a set a goal of increasing that this year to 40. Most of the adoptions are done periodically throughout the year but for the last eight years, the organization has been celebrated National Adoption Day with multiple adoptions.
The organization runs four, 10-week classes that potential parents must attend while the organization vets the family to make sure the child is going to a good home.
Adoptions help the whole community, said state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, who charged everyone the room to help those new parents come together as a community.
“You’re doing this for the whole community,” Farley-Bouvier told the parents.
She shared her story of adopting a child and read from a journal she and her husband kept of the process. She said adopting is a different type of parenting but it comes with great rewards.
To thank the parents and join in the celebration, an array of governmental officials, former judges and attorneys were present. Elected officials included state Rep. Paul Mark, North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright, Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi, Sheriff Thomas Bowler and a representative from U.S. Rep. Richard Neal’s office.