By Ashley Murphy, Program Associate
The 17th of November marked National Adoption Day, a day in which families all across the country gathered in courthouses to legalize and finalize the adoption process they had so bravely trekked through. This day is meant to not only finalize adoptions, but also to honor families that are adopting and raise awareness of more than the 100,000 children currently residing in the foster care system and waiting to find permanent homes. There are more than 400,000 children in the foster care system in total within the United States, all of whom are forced to enter the system due to neglect or abandonment.
Since its inception more than a decade ago, National Adoption Day has helped more than 40,000 children move from foster care to what those in the field call “forever families.” This year’s Adoption Day will help facilitate the final step in the legal adoption process for approximately 4,500 children in foster care. These children are adopted by former foster parents, relatives, and non-relatives. National Adoption Day is particularly significant given the average child in foster care waits for an adoptive family for more than three years.
In Alameda County, I gathered with others at the Juvenile Justice Center on Friday, November 16th, to partake in this symbolic and powerful day. We first packed in the Center’s main room for the welcome ceremony and presentations. A rainbow balloon arch marked the entrance to the hall of courtrooms, where the families would eventually travel to take their final step to becoming a legally-recognized family. The process is a long one that requires dedication and patience, and the joy at the ceremony was palpable.
The event was held by the Alameda County Social Services Agency’s Department of Children and Family Services, which is licensed as a Public Adoption Agency by the California Department of Social Services. One of the main speakers, the Honorable Rhonda Burgess, spoke to a crowd of more than 100 parents, children, relatives, friends, judges, and staff from the Department of Children and Family Services. She spoke emotionally about the importance of endeavoring to do the right thing each day and pledging to love and nurture one another.
After the ceremony, families proceeded to the courtrooms, where they held the adoption hearings in a private, intimate setting. As the former foster youth eagerly bounded to their respective courtrooms, they carried in their arms the chocolate chip-patterned teddy bears that PVF donated as part of our Juvenile Court Judges Program. It was an honor for PVF to make a small contribution to such a momentous and impactful occasion.