Bloomington family celebrates adoption of 7th child on National Adoption Day

On National Adoption Day, 20 families provided 34 children a permanent home in Hennepin County. The event, held the Saturday before Thanksgiving, is marked by adoption finalization hearings. It’s a celebration of growing families and an effort to raise awareness about the number of children in foster care waiting for a forever home.

“It’s been amazing,” said Jodi Workcuff, who adopted her seventh child. “I think it’s a hard road on a lot of aspects but it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”

Her husband, Matthew Workcuff, added, “Helping somebody, changing their lives, making a difference.”

The Workcuff couple has adopted seven children. Three-year-old Phoenix officially joined the family on Saturday.

“Our youngest is 3 and our oldest is 12, going to be 13 here in a couple of months,” Jodi Workcuff said. “They’re amazing — we have two sibling groups.”

They became foster parents about six years ago.

“We had heard a little bit about a need for some families for some kids until they could go home and we thought, ‘We could do that,’ and we were in the process for working on starting our own family and that was taking longer than expected,” Jodi Workcuff said. “So it was a win-win for us.”

Their son Omear was placed with them in 2015. Within that first year, they also received a call for a placement for Bloomington siblings Kayden and Desten. Soon Omear’s siblings Ozell, Oneya and Ohara joined them as well.

“We went from zero to six in about a year,” Jodi Worcuff said. “Then Phoenix came. She is the icing on the cake.”

The family maintains constant contact with biological family members as well, including daily visits from a grandmother, camping trips with aunts and sleepovers with cousins.

“Realistically we thought of this as we would like to join their family and make sure everyone can stay safe and connected as best we can because that’s important to them. That’s their family, regardless of anything else,” Jodi Workcuff said.

Matthew Workcuff added, “That’s part of them. It’s kind of who they are, so we’re trying to keep that same connection.”

They officially adopted Omear in 2017, followed by his siblings later that year. In 2018, Kayden and Desten legally became the Workcuffs’ children.

“The fact that they have adopted multiple times through Hennepin County, the fact that they have really stepped up to keep siblings together, they also have really embraced expanding their extended family to include birth relatives of the kids they’ve adopted, is just a remarkable thing,” said Melissa Sherlock, the Hennepin County program manager for child foster care licensing and adoption. “It’s something we ask of adoptive parents and this is a family that’s really stepped up the effort.”

Hennepin County has finalized adoptions for 144 kids so far in 2021. Sherlock said she expects that number will reach 200 by the end of the year.

There are about 100 children waiting for an adoptive family in Hennepin County.

“When kids come into foster care, most of them return home to their parents,” Sherlock said. “We probably have 60-plus percent of our kids that are with relatives. If they cannot return home safely and the courts do terminate the rights of those parents and legally free them for adoption, we have about 100 kids or so that don’t have an identified resource, meaning their relative or a foster parent is not going to adopt them.”

The need is especially great for sibling groups and teenagers: 71% percent of children waiting for an adoptive family are 13 to 17 years old, according to Hennepin County.

Sherlock said there is a similar need for foster parents.

“We need people to step forward, particularly for older kids,” Sherlock said. “We’re looking for people who are maybe interested in working with teens. Teens come with their own wonderful experiences and challenges and for people who love teenagers, we would love to have you as foster parents.”

At their Bloomington home, the Workcuff siblings gathered together around their custom-made nine-person dining table on Saturday, working on crafts to commemorate Phoenix’s adoption.

“We’ve always basically told the kids, we’re not two separate families, we’re one family, we’re always going to be one family,” Matthew Workcuff said.

For more information about foster care and adoption in Hennepin County, click here.