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Adoptions on the rise locally during the pandemic

Posted at 6:40 PM, Aug 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-13 11:54:54-04

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — It's been quite the journey for little Bodhi Keelan. He was born on May 20, 2020 in Florida, a hot spot during a global pandemic, then adopted by a Town of Tonawanda couple.

"When someone calls you and says you have a son, all those fears about COVID they become the opposite of fears. There's no way I'm going to let COVID stand in the way of something we've wanted so badly for so long," said Tristan Keelan, a newly adoptive father.

Tristan Keelan and his wife Kimberly always knew they wanted to grow their family. They waited for 17 months, expecting a challenge, but nothing like this.

They drove all the way to Florida and even got tested for COVID-19 to be able to go into the hospital, but they were denied access because Bodhi was in the NICU. They waited one week to hold their son for the first time.

"It's like being on the dark side of the moon, you can't see him, you can't touch him, but you know he's yours," said Keelan.

Months later, he's home in WNY enjoying long naps and warm milk. And the Keelan family is not alone, a local adoption agency is having a surprisingly busy year.

"Maybe that's kind of a reflection of COVID-19 entering people's lives and maybe this realization that a family is something I really want, why wait?" said Michael Hill, Associate Director of Adoption STAR, an Amherst-based adoption agency.

So far this year 48 children have been placed through Adoption STAR. Compared to 39 placements by this time in 2019 and 37 in 2018. They're also seeing more people looking to adopt.

"If people can be flexible and patient, ultimately, placements are transpiring and transpiring in numbers that are shocking us," said Hill.

They're able to handle visitations, home studies and even court proceedings virtually. It's different, but not impossible and there are still thousands of children out there waiting for a permanent home.

"Adoptions a wonderful thing. It's a story we'll tell him. It's got a lot of pieces to it, but that's his story," said Keelan.

If you think adoption is the right path for you, you can reach Adoption STAR at 716-639-3900 or click here.