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has Down syndrome, to a 19 year old. When the 19 year old came to live with Harless, her IQ tested as 42. She's soon to move into a Medicaid waiver home and tests show her IQ now as 76.really does take a village, Harless said, giving credit to case manager Sharon Anderson, who me how to be a family administrator. I don't run a Beaver Cleaver household. I don't think I'm this really terrific mom. The thing I do is connect with these kids, and what I do well is network. I've learned to pick the fruit off whatever tree I need at the time. Harless does more than connect Dale and Joshua with herself. She ensures they are connected to the real world, with neighbors, friends, their church and the community as a whole. Dale and Joshua were the impetus behind a special membership class at Crescent Avenue United Methodist Church, where the boys, and all of Harless' older foster kids, are part of the church youth group.Dale and Joshua, and one of Harless' foster sons, are actively involved in a Boy Scout troop, the first one in Indiana started for boys with autism. It was founded by Anderson. Harless' children perform regularly with the University of Saint Francis' Jesters drama troupe for mildly/moderately mentally and/or physically challenged young people. On a nice day, if you drive by Harless home, it is not unusual to see Joshua playing catch with a neighbor or Dale helping walk the dog.a family. We clean the house together, go to church together and play together, Harless said. believe God has had a hand in bringing our lives together. Do I get tired or have a bad day? Sure. I go to bed exhausted, and I wake up refreshed.tell my kids, for the highest stars. If you land on the moon, that's OK. It may be as far as you can go. But always reach high and dream.' If your child has a dream run with it. Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to raise awareness about orphans and foster children and their need for permanent, safe and loving homes through adoption. Souder is on the coalition's steering committee.

and so positive. She told me I could call her anytime and I did, Harless said. Final adoption for Dale, now 17, was in April 2001. While visiting Dale's former foster family, another child took to Harless and she to him.saw this cute 5 1/2 year old boy running all over the place. He'd been kicked out of a couple foster homes. He's one of those kids that you have to fall in love with his future because you certainly cannot hold on to the past. He had a horrible, horrible past of neglect. But he's very bright, very smart, she said.When his then foster family decided they could not adopt him, he moved to Harless' home as a foster child. had no thought of adopting him at the time, she said. Joshua has eight siblings, several with significant disabilities. Catholic Charities realized they could not find a home in which all the children could be placed permanently.he was 9, he asked me if I would adopt him. Harless talked it over with her biological children who, although they're on their own now, assist Harless. The consensus was go for it, she said. In October 2005, Joshua, now 12, became Harless' son.Harless is never one to take full credit for giving a permanent home to Dale and Joshua or meeting the needs of the other four foster children with disabilities who live with her. They range in age from a 3 month old who Omega Watch Red

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Angel in Adoption award winner Terri Harless has been a foster parent or guardian to 13 children with disabilities since 2001, two of whom she has adopted. Harless is affiliated with the following disability advocacy organizations: graduate of Indiana Partners in Policymaking; InSource Advocacy Training; Family to Family State Systems Change Committee; and a past member of Allen County First Steps Council.First in seriesThis is the first story in a series about adoption. In the coming weeks, The News Sentinel will bring you stories and photos of how adoption has changed lives. An adoption ceremony for about 20 children will take place Nov. 30 at the Allen County Courthouse. The News Sentinel will bring you pictures of the ceremonies Dec. 1.If you have adopted a child or were adopted by a family and would like to share with others how the gift of adoption impacted you, send your comments to: Jennifer Boen, The News Sentinel, 600 W. Limit comments to one or two paragraphs. Several readers' stories will be shared in an upcoming edition.Life has a way of coming full circle. Such is the case for Teresa Harless, who today was to receive a national Angel in Adoption award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. Rep. Mark Souder, who presented the award in ceremonies at the social service agency.is a wonderful example of an angel in adoption, said Debbie Schmidt, executive director of Catholic Charities. has a strong commitment to the children that she has in her home and is a wonderful advocate for for them. She is definitely deserving of this, and we were proud to be able to get to know her throughout the adoption process and to honor her for her commitment. seeds of adoption were planted in Harless' heart when she was just 10 years old. It was Christmas Day 1955 in rural Bellevue, Wash. Harless' mother had remarried after a divorce. A letter was given to Harless and her two brothers that day, a letter of love stating they had been adopted by their then stepfather.parents wrote a letter about how they loved us and wanted us to be a family, recalled Harless, 52. (adoptive) dad was Japanese, and my parents went on to have four children of their own. Even though outsiders may have noticed a difference in the eye shape of the younger siblings, Harless said she and they thought everyone looked the same.Accepting everyone and treating them the same was ingrained in Harless, who moved to Fort Wayne as an adult. She had her own biological children, but there was always room for more. She opened a licensed daycare for children with disabilities referred by Easter Seals Arc. Later on, she became a licensed foster care provider. One of the children she cared for was 11 year old Dale.Dale had a diagnosis of autism and mental retardation. He did not communicate with words, but under Harless' care, his smiles grew bigger and the two found their own ways of communication. One week she was asked to keep Omega Speedmaster Moonphase Dale overnight for respite care. At the time, Dale was living in foster Omega Speedmaster 40mm

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care with another family.Harless accepted the challenge and realized her home and heart had enough room to keep him permanently. Two days after his respite care stay, she told Dale's case manager, would love to adopt him. She contacted Catholic Charities and began the adoption process.had no clue how to go through the system. I was so scared, Harless said. Schmidt, of Catholic Charities, met with Harless and walked her through the steps. made it so easy. She was so knowledgeable Omega Seamaster On Nato

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