CINCINNATI -- Ieshia Ruffin never planned to foster or adopt, so when she took in two young brothers, she thought it was a temporary placement.
But months turned into years, and the temporary placement turned into a forever home for Terry and Julius.
Ruffin said she “knew she was doing the right thing,” but she still found herself emotional and angry other adults had failed the boys.
“Life is difficult period, and it's not fair,” Ruffin said. “Sometimes you have to make the right decision to help someone else and not just self. So my decision was based on helping them, not me."
The number of foster kids in Hamilton County is so “staggering” there aren’t enough foster parents to meet the demand. Hamilton County Children's Services served 20,204 children in 2017, a sharp increase from 16,912 in 2012.
About 400 children need new homes everyday in Hamilton County, a spike fueled, in part, by the opioid epidemic. Fifty percent of children being taken into custody across Ohio have a parent with a drug abuse problem, according to the latest data.
Parents typically have about two years to achieve sobriety and regain custody. Moira Weir, director of Hamilton County Job and Family Services, said access to treatment is increasingly difficult.
"On any given day, 80 percent of our cases involve at the same time substance abuse, mental health and violence,” Weir said. “So that just speaks to the tremendous complexity of the cases that we have, also the vulnerability of our families and the trauma that the families and children have been living in."
Ruffin isn’t alone in adopting her former foster sons; about 79 percent of foster parents end up adopting the children if they can’t return to their biological parents.
Click here if you’re interested in more information on adoption or becoming a foster parent.