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AMES, Iowa –About 800 kids are eligible to be adopted in Iowa. One group wants to make sure they all find safe homes.

Corly and Dawn Blahnik might not look like mother and daughter, but they sure act like it. While looking through a photo album, Corly asked Dawn, “How come you have these cute outfits that I got to put you in and they you quit letting me do that?”

Corly met Dawn when she was 18 months old. She said, “I remember the first day I saw her. It was unbelievable.”

That was about forty years ago. She added, “She had been moved to several different foster homes, it was a very young mother and the mother wanted to keep Dawn, but couldn’t meet her needs and did the best job she could.”

Dawn said, “I’ve always known I’m adopted. I’ve always been proud of that, and very grateful to my birth mother for giving me an opportunity to be in a loving, caring home.”

Dawn played sports in school, graduated college, and is now a police officer. Things about adoption have changed since she joined the family four decades ago. Corly said, “There wasn’t much available professionally, so we got together and formed our own support group, for parents of adopted children who were providing challenges.”

Now, a group called Iowans for Adoption promotes adoption as a positive parenting option. It hosts an annual Gingerbread Walk to raise awareness. And, the group works to improve the adoption and foster care process. Executive Director Diana Baltimore said, “With the recent issues involving foster care, foster to adopt in Iowa, we’ve been working with individuals across the state to hopefully figure out ways we can help.”

The Blahniks want people to know how adoption changed their lives. Corly said, “I will forever be grateful to Dawn’s birth mother. I’m forever grateful for the process we went through with social services to get Dawn.”

Dawn said, “I’m grateful that I was given an opportunity to go to a home where my needs could be met.”

Iowans for Adoption will hold its first banquet. It’s September 28th at Glen Oaks Country Club from 5 to 9 p.m. Channel 13’s Erin Kiernan will be one of the guest speakers. Tickets are available.