Thursday, November 24, 2011
• Wicker Celebrates the Gift of Family
Spending time with family and loved ones is a cherished part of the holiday season. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, we should remember the adoptive families and individuals who have opened their hearts and homes. No amount of thanks can match the positive impact they make in a child’s life.
Since 1995, November has been designated as National Adoption Month to help raise awareness about the adoption of children in foster care. For thousands of these children, the long wait for a permanent home ends on National Adoption Day – observed this year on November 19 – as communities across the country come together to celebrate the gift of family. Over the last decade, adoptions have been finalized for more than 35,000 children on National Adoption Day.
Waiting for a ‘Forever Family’
Many Americans are supportive of adoption, yet there are more than 100,000 children in the United States currently waiting for a “forever family.” According to Mississippi Families for Kids, our state has 3,000 children in need of adoptive parents.
Mississippians are known for being generous, and this reputation extends to taking care of our children. Last month, I had the honor of recognizing Debbie Velie of Tupelo as one of this year’s “Angels in Adoption” for her extraordinary work as an adoption counselor and advocate. The award is sponsored by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) – a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that seeks to give every child his or her right to a family. I am a proud member of the coalition and will continue to support legislative action benefiting those who decide to adopt.
Addressing Adoption Concerns
A few years ago, a column in The Washington Post made an interesting observation. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the number of women who wanted to adopt far exceeded the number of children waiting to be adopted. The column’s author, adoption advocate Jeff Katz, suggested that closing the gap would take streamlining the screening process and putting better recruiting tools in place. This year, National Adoption Month is focusing on ways adoption professionals can enhance their capacity to recruit and retain prospective families.
Unfortunately, a number of misconceptions still exist about adoption and the children in foster care. Some Americans believe foster children have a record of juvenile delinquency. Others think adoption is too expensive.
In truth, the majority of children in foster care are the victims of abandonment or abuse. Costs can vary widely, but adoption from foster care is typically the least expensive. The adoption tax credit and employee benefits can help further reduce expenses.
Celebrating Our Everyday Heroes
We have a responsibility to protect our youth and make sure they have the support and love they need for success later in life. Every child deserves to grow up in a stable and caring home.
The decision to adopt is a life-changing one, but raising a child comes with countless blessings. Those who choose to welcome a child into their hearts and homes are among this country’s many everyday heroes. I wish them – and all families – a very special Thanksgiving.
For more information about adoption and National Adoption Month, please visit www.childwelfare.gov/adoption.
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