Tens of thousands across the country will be celebrating National Adoption Day tomorrow. While I could reiterate the magnitude of this effort, I wanted to focus on what National Adoption Day means beyond the balloons, press releases, proclamations, dress clothes, and photographers of tomorrow’s events.
The love of a mother or father is fundamental to our lives. Well into my twenties, I’m realizing that my need for parents is no less now than before. It’s a loving parent that gives children a sense of security, a knowing that they have a place to call home, a reality that they are not in this world alone. A parent is a child’s biggest fan. A parent is who will fight any battle for that child.
As a trained social worker I couldn’t let tomorrow come without addressing the significant impact on the emotional development of the child. Research and common sense tell us that the best place for a child to grow and develop is in a family. Children need stability and a sense of security in order for a healthy physical, psychological, and social development. Childhood experiences forever impact the people we become and the success of later life.
As I was driving to work this morning, I was thinking about the courtroom celebrations that would be taking place tomorrow. But my mind wandered to one adoption day story I will never forget. Last year, my boss was attending a young boy’s foster care adoption finalization along with one of our Foster Youth Interns who had aged out of foster care himself. Now this intern would remind you of a football linebacker, and would never be pegged for a bleeding heart. But as the judge was leading the ceremony before signing the adoption decree, “do you agree to be adopted? will you provide a suitable home for this child? this child will now have all of the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of being your child.” The new mother, so overcome with emotion, could barely spell her name aloud for the court reporter. As my boss sat next to our intern, she looked over and noticed tears in his eyes. He leaned in to her and said, “I’m sorry, I’m usually not emotional…but I can’t help but think how lucky that little boy is.”
With tears streaming down my face remembering this story, it was then that I was reminded just how important tomorrow is. We all work in this field because we are passionate and hope to see not one more youth age out of the foster care system with that longing for a family unfulfilled, wanting nothing more than a parent to be proud as they walk across the graduation stage, wanting a parent to call them on their birthday, or knowing they always have a place to go for the holidays .
As we leave our National Adoption Day celebrations tomorrow, we cannot fail to remember the 114,000 children and youth still waiting for a family to call their own, and the 30,000 youth who will age out of foster care this year.