by Claire Terrebonne, CASA Staff Attorney and Guardian ad Litem
On Friday, November 21, 2014, Jackson County, along with many counties across the country, celebrated National Adoption Day. Over 30 children children from Jackson County were finally adopted into 27 forever families just in time for Thanksgiving. Six of those children had CASA volunteers advocating for their best interests.
For Guardians ad Litem and others, adoption days are one of the few happy days over at family court. The day an adoption is finalized is one families will never forget. In fact, many adoptive families celebrate not only birthdays, but adoption days too. These heartwarming events are a time for closure and new beginnings, relief and hope, and (more often than not) grateful tears shared between a team of individuals who worked together to secure a safe, permanent, and loving home a child deserves.
National Adoption Day is a collective national effort to raise awareness of more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting for permanent and loving families. This annual event celebrated in hundreds of cities across the United States brings policymakers, practitioners and advocates together to finalize adoptions, create and celebrate adoptive families, and make the dreams of thousands of children come true.
Every year, more than 23,000 children age out of the foster care system with no families or permanent homes. And only 51% of Americans believe every child is adoptable. Since its inception in 2000, however, National Adoption Day’s efforts to bring awareness to foster care adoption have helped nearly 50,000 children find forever families. Last year, 4,500 children were adopted by their forever families during the 14th Annual Adoption Day.
In Jackson County the Children’s Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services reports that 205 children were adopted out of foster care between June 2013 and June 2014. There are presently 43 children who are waiting for a forever family in Jackson County, and the majority of those are over age nine. Although 205 children celebrated the joy of being adopted last year, the data for the prior fiscal year of June 2012 – June 2013 shows that 70 children in Jackson County aged out of the foster care system and are now on their own without a permanent connection to a family through adoption or legal guardianship.
Through our community’s continued support of National Adoption Day and similar initiatives, we can help those numbers grow by finding loving adoptive families for all children, including older youth. To find out more about National Adoption Day, learn about foster care adoption, and hear beautiful adoption stories, check out www.nationaladoptionday.org.