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Oklahoma adoptions reach highest number since 1998

OKLAHOMA CITY - Lisa Feist says it was a family decision to adopt three children from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

"We had a whole family meeting, and we all sat down together and said, 'You know, there are going to be sacrifices. When you say yes to something, you're saying no to something else," Feist said.

Mia was one of those children following a rough start to life.

"She said, 'There's a little baby who had been abandoned in the NICU after two days,' and she was going to be removed from the NICU but they weren't able to find a home for her," she said.

Mia needed a new heart and couldn't even get on the donor list because she wasn't eligible. However, that all changed when Feist took her in.

"She lived and got her heart transplant and we call her mighty Mia," she said.

Now, Mia is 7-years-old and has four other siblings, including two others who were also adopted.

Department officials say stories like this are happening all over the state at a record pace.

In 2016, the number of children under DHS custody dipped below 10,000.

Now, officials say the department is at a record low with 9,500 children under state care. Around 500 are currently available for adoption.

"We had the highest number of children adopted since 1998. There were 2,244 children that exited foster care for adoption," said Katelyn Burns, communications manager for DHS.

Officials say several factors contribute to the decrease. The main factor is bringing awareness about the need through the governor's Oklahoma Fosters campaign and showing the children through videos.

"Kind of giving a glimpse into who these kids are, what they look like, what their needs are, and so we really give a lot of credit to KFOR for that," Burns said.

They're hoping even more people will see the benefits of adopting with the state agency.

"It doesn't cost anything to adopt a child out of foster care. In fact, you get assistance and you get support and it's very easy, so I think a lot of people don't realize that," Burns said.

House Bill 1228 is currently headed to the Senate for consideration. It would speed up the adoption process.

For more information about adopting or fostering, call 1-800-376-9729 or visit okfosters.org.