LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - The Dawodu's backyard is filled with life and laughter. But it wouldn't be the same had they not adopted three of their seven daughters.
"Adoption has really taught me the different ways to love," Femi Dawodu says. "It really just teaches you how to expand your heart, beyond the norm of how you typically raise children and really draw kids in, in the way that they feel loved."
Femi and Carlee Dawudo are among many Hoosier parents who choose to adopt. Nearly 2,500 Hoosier children were adopted in fiscal year 2019. That's up by more than 1,000 over the past five years.
As a result, the Indiana Department of Child Services was awarded $4.7 million dollars in federal funding this year, more than any other state to receive money. The check was presented Thursday during a news conference with Gov. Eric Holcomb.
But foster children in Tippecanoe County are still in desperate need of help, says Lacy Page, licensing lead at the The Villages of Indiana. The agency works in connection with DCS to license foster parents and coordinate private adoptions.
"There is a significant need for kids, for foster parents for those older kids, those school-age kids," Page says. "In 2019, The Villages was referred 5,000 kids, and we weren't able to place 5,000 children."
Carlee Dawudo is also executive director of the local adoption agency Gifts of Grace. She encourages anyone considering adoption to take the next step.
"I think it's just worth it to adopt," Carlee Dawudo says. "Every child who's been through any sort of loss or trauma deserves someone in their corner."
In Indiana, the average time to adoption is 332 days. About 1,000 Hoosier children are still seeking a forever home.