From non-adoptable to adorable
Daily News, Port Angeles
Local family directs state-wide effort
By V I R G I N I A K E E T I N G
Monday begins North American Adoption Week, but for Merrily Ripley of Port Angeles, executive director of the Washington Association of Christian Adoptive Parents, adoption week is every week. The association, for the past 15 years a supportive group for families in the process of adoption, was licensed by the state in May. It began with a group of adoptive parents concerned about families waiting for children and children waiting for families.
There are thousands of children in need of adoptive homes, Mrs. Ripley said. According to the Child Welfare League of America and the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, there are at least 120,000 adoptable children now among the 350,000 in foster homes and institutions in the United States.
The adoption service of the Washington Association of Christian Adoptive Parents is geared to children who are considered hard to place. "These are older children, those from other countries, the physically and mentally handicapped, those from minority races and sibling groups," Mrs. Ripley said.
"There are children available for people who want to be parents if they can think beyond being parents to a Caucasian infant," Mrs. Ripley said. "The first child placed in the state after we were licensed was an 11-year-old deaf Korean girl."
There are now 80 families in the state being processed for adoption throughout the state, 15 of those in Clallam and Jefferson counties. Headquarters of Washington Association of Christian Adoptive Parents is in Port Angeles with seven groups of the association in various areas around the state. The adoption service is governed by a board of directors and supported by donations and adoption fees.
Prospective adoptive families attend pre-adoption meetings led by adoptive parents. Then the agency contracts with social workers for home study, which is required by the state. Home study reports are sent to an agency that has whatever type of child the family is looking for. "We have books with pictures of children in other states who need families," Mrs. Ripley said. "Most of them are in foster homes."
Sometimes a worker brings a child to the family; sometimes the family goes after it. "It is the desire to be a parent that we are looking for," Mrs. Ripley said. Among the 80 families being processed are three single parents. It is becoming more acceptable for single parents to adopt, she said, and mentioned Joy Andrus, a teacher in Port Angeles High School, who has over the past seven years adopted six black girls through various agencies. Their ages range from 4 to 13.
Ted and Merrily Ripley have a family of 13 children, three born to them and 10 adopted. The youngest are five-year-old Korean twin girls. The oldest is a black and Korean boy who came from Korea two and a half years ago, attended high school, went into the Army, was stationed in Korea, and married a Korean girl. He plans to return to Port
Angeles in March when he is out of the service.
Mr. and Mrs. Ripley went to Korea in September for the wedding. While there they located the brother and sister of a black and Korean girl they have adopted, and hope to adopt them also. Another of their children is handicapped because of a birth defect and is in a wheelchair. He spent all his life in a foster home and always wanted a family, Mrs. Ripley said. He was 14 when they brought him from Vermont. She and her husband, with years of experience as the parents of adopted children, work to find homes for other hard-to-place children. She spends about four hours a day working for the agency and he is chairman of the association's board of directors.
Merrily Rlpley, the mother of 13 children (three born to her and her husband, the rest adopted) watches three of her children. The twin girls from Korea, Heather and Holly, are the youngest, while Peter is confined to a wheelchair. — Dally News photo by Tom Thompson