Rise and shine, sweet child of mine

Inspired by a National Adoption Day court proceeding, Judge Jim Barfield wrote ‘Rise and Shine’.  His song was part of the 10th year celebration for National Adoption Day in Atlanta in honor of the adoptive families coming through the Fulton County Juvenile Court.  We are happy to make this song available for your use in celebrating National Adoption Day tomorrow!  Enjoy listening to Rise and Shine!

Washington, DC National Adoption Day Celebration, 2010

By Jim Barfield, (composed in support of National Adoption Day) copyright 2011

With the stroke of a pen,
A new family begins,
And it’s true beauty,
Will never end,
Rise and shine, rise and shine,
Sweet child of mine,
Rise and shine,
Rise above the things,
That pull you down,
And shine through the blindness,
That’s all around,
Rise and shine, rise and shine,
Sweet child of mine,
Rise and shine,
Rise above wrong turns in every road,
Shine your light straight from your soul,
Rise and shine, rise and shine,
Sweet child of mine,
Rise and shine,
(Bridge) I want you to know – I’m here to stay – I’m right beside you – each step of the way.
With open hands – and open heart – I will cherish each moment – doing my part,
(so you can) Rise and shine, rise and shine,
Sweet child of mine, rise and shine.

Celebrate National Adoption Day

As you may know, this Saturday, November 19th is National Adoption Day.  This special day exists to raise awareness about the over 107,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted, and to finalize over 4,000 adoptions from foster care across the country.  These children will have something very special to be thankful for next Thursday, a loving and supportive family.  Over 300 events will be held, with many other individuals celebrating through the online community.

Here are a few ideas of ways to get involved:

1. Attend your local National Adoption Day Event

2. Help raise awareness about children in foster care by highlighting National Adoption Day on your facebook or blog: be sure to link to resources in your community (your local dept. of children’s services or non-profit foster care agencies, Court Appointed Special Advocates, your local Heart Gallery, mentoring organizations, or other resources in your area)

3. Use Twitter to recognize your support of National Adoption Day: be sure to use the #nationaladoptionday hashtag

4. Call/email your elected officials to encourage them attend an event, issue a press release or write an op ed, or promote National Adoption Day through their own social media: direct their staff to www.ccainstitute.org/nad for resources that will assist them

Celebrate National Adoption Month

Today is the first day of National Adoption Month.  Throughout the month, policymakers, social workers, adoption advocates, and families will be coming together to raise awareness about the 107,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted.  The Administration for Children and Families has a portion of their site devoted to information about National Adoption Month.

In a few short weeks, nearly 400 communities across the country will be hosting events on Saturday, November 19th in celebration of National Adoption Day.  These events are not only a special occasion for nearly 5,000 children that will be adopted during these events, but also is a way the community can come out to support families and learn about how to get involved in the life of a child in foster care.

These children need your help.  They are at risk for languishing in foster care for years not knowing the love and security of a family and never having their full potential realized because no one is encouraging or supporting them.

Please consider promoting National Adoption Day (NAD) in the following ways:

  • Encourage Elected Government Officials to support NAD.  Reach out to officials on the local, state, and federal level to encourage them to attend an event, issue a press release, write an op ed, issue a proclamation, or blog or tweet about NAD.  Call their office or send an email referring them to visit www.ccainstitute.org/nad for resources.
  • Engage the Media and Local Business.  Reach out to your local event planner and ask them if they need help inviting the local media, asking businesses to donate goods to the event, or ask faith-based organizations to promote this event.
  • Write, Blog, Facebook, or Tweet about NAD.  Encourage others in your community to get involved, and be sure to link to @natadoptionday and use the hashtag #nationaladoptionday.
  • Impact the Life of a Child.  Reach out to local government and non-profit agencies in your area to get more information about how to mentor a child, become a Court Appointed Special Advocate, provide respite care for children, become a foster parent, or adopt a child in need of a family.  Click here for more information.

National Adoption Day reaches beyond courtrooms

The 11th annual National Adoption Day took place last Saturday, November 20th.  This year brought a number of new accomplishments to this national effort.  This year alone, more than 4,800 children were adopted on National Adoption Day–more than any year before!  Nearly 400 events took place across the country.  While judges, social workers, attorneys, CASAs, volunteers, and most importantly adoptive parents worked together to ensure successful events; celebrities, elected officials, and pro sports are now realizing the importance of this day.

For the first time ever, all 50 governors issued National Adoption Day and National Adoption Month proclamations along with numerous mayors of cities across the country.  President Obama issued his annual proclamation.  State courts, state legislatures, and city councils passed National Adoption Day resolutions.

Once again, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives both passed National Adoption Day and Month resolutions with a total of 75 original co-sponsors.

Several elected officials expressed their support by attending events, such as Gov. Deval Patrick of Mass., or by writing op eds such as Rep. Jim Cooper of Tenn., or by issuing press releases, such as Sens. James Inhofe and Mary LandrieuLt. Gov. of New Jersey, Kim Guadagno opened up about her own adoption in an op ed she wrote for the day.

Academy Award nominated screenwriter and actress Nia Vardalos participated in the Los Angeles event by sharing her personal foster care adoption story.  Actor Willie Garson also shared his story of adopting his son from foster care.  Nia served as spokesperson this year, and participated in several interviews on the topic.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, kicked off National Adoption Day by finalizing two adoptions from the D.C. foster care system on Friday, Nov. 19th.  One boy was a 17 year-old who was being adopted by his friend’s mother.  He went on to share what his adoption day means to him through his blog post.

The New Orleans Saints also recognized the importance of the day by playing the National Adoption Day PSA and announcing to the 70,000 fans present at their November 21st game about the need to step forward and make a difference in the life of a child.

Numerous TV stations across the country featured stories about local families’ adoption on National Adoption Day.  In Atlanta, one boy shared what his adoption means to him. “There is no sadness here,” he said of his new home.

While 2010 presented many new successes for foster care adoption, there is much work to be done.  Thank you all for your efforts surrounding National Adoption Day.  We are looking forward to even more forever families to celebrate next year!

For the official National Adoption Day press release, click here.

how lucky that little boy is…

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.

Members of Congress Support National Adoption Day

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Adoption Day Resolution expressing their support for the day and the overall effort to see children adopted out of foster care and raised in a family with the love and support needed to thrive.  The House recognized that, “every day loving and nurturing families are strengthened and expanded when committed and dedicated individuals make an important difference in the life of a child through adoption.”

To that end, several Members of Congress who champion this issue expressed their support for National Adoption Day:

“Thousands of children are waiting for loving and supportive homes,” said Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.). “National Adoption Day serves as a reminder to put these children first. It’s our duty to find them the love they need and deserve.”

“It’s vital to raise awareness about the need for adoptive families and to recognize those that provide a safe environment for children in need,” said Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio). “I have long advocated for improving the adoption process because I believe every child deserves a caring, stable and secure place to grow up. With initiatives like National Adoption Day and National Adoption Month, hopefully more children will gain permanent homes.”

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), founding member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) and child welfare advocate, said, “There is nothing more important for a child than to be raised in a supporting and loving family. A family is where children are taught values that serve as the foundation of lifelong decisions, where they gain a sense of belonging and find confidence in themselves. For more than a decade, tireless judges, attorneys, child advocates and hundreds of volunteers around the country dedicate National Adoption Day to changing lives. They are giving these children a permanent place to call home.”

Research and reason continue to tell us that children need stability as they grow. To that end, adoption has the power to forever impact the life and future success of a child.

“For children in foster care, stability is critical. National Adoption Day reminds us of our commitment and duty to the hundreds of thousands of foster children who are waiting for the stability of a permanent and loving home,” said Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.).

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), founder and co-chairman of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, said, “Thousands of children are adopted on this day every year. And the day draws attention to the many other children who are waiting for a permanent family. Adoption not only brings these children the immediate benefits of a loving family, but it also gives them a greater chance at educational opportunities and future success than if they age out of foster care without a permanent connection. I appreciate the work of advocates, adoptive parents and young people whose commitment brings families together.”

Personally aware of how significant adoption can be to the life of a child and to a family, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) shares, “Adoption creates a family where none existed before. My wife and I have two amazing sons and the family we prayed for thanks to the miracle of adoption and two mothers who chose life. Cathy and I now can’t imagine what our lives used to be like. Because every child needs the security of a loving family, that is my prayer for this National Adoption Day.”

“Families are the cornerstone of our communities and I applaud each and every family that has opened their homes and their hearts to children in need,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). “Adoption enriches lives immeasurably and on this National Adoption Day, thousands of children and families will learn this life-changing lesson firsthand. It is my hope that every child in need finds a permanent, loving and supportive family.”

Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), a leader on adoption issues in the House, said, “Every child deserves to have a safe, loving and permanent home. I am truly humbled by the thousands of families who open their hearts and homes every year to adoptive children, and everyone who helps children find families through adoption. I proudly support the work of initiatives like National Adoption Day and National Adoption Month that help bring awareness to the need to continue to improve our adoption and foster care systems.”

“As a supporter of National Adoption Day, I believe that every child deserves a loving family with parents to guide them through their childhood. National Adoption Day is a celebration of committed individuals and families willing to step up and provide a loving, caring and supportive home for a foster child. Let us therefore celebrate the endless efforts of child care advocates, and our courageous children waiting in the foster care system,” said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). “I encourage everyone to help make the dream of belonging to a permanent family a reality.”

For the press release, please click here.