(Photo: AP Images / The Pensacola News Journal, Karena Cawthon)
Thousands of families across the nation this weekend will celebrate an early Thanksgiving when they expand their families on National Adoption Day.
Saturday marks the 12th annual National Adoption Day when thousands of adoptions are finalized in courtrooms across the U.S. More than 350 local events are held throughout the United States, and also in Puerto Rico and Guam. Events range from adoption finalization ceremonies at courthouses to families celebrating their successful adoptions at local parks and children’s museums.
For many children, National Adoption Day is a day they have been waiting for many years.
“There are so many children in this country waiting for a loving family to welcome them into their home, just as Christ welcomed us into his family,” said Colin Hanna, president of the Pennsylvania Pastors’ Network, in a statement. “This is a way we can truly help the ‘least of these’ and show God’s love in a profound way.”
There are currently more than 463,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, with 123,000 of those children available for adoption. Many of them will spend five years or more in the foster care system before they are adopted.
National Adoption Day takes place during November’s National Adoption Awareness Month, a period where people can inform others about these children who need a family.
“Through no fault of their own, nearly half a million children are in foster care because of neglect, abuse or abandonment,” said Rita Soronen, president and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in a news release.
This year’s theme is “Build Capacity to Make Lasting Change.” Each year, the month takes on a new focus to target different areas of need, such as older child adoption or raising awareness of the need for more adoptive homes.
National Adoption Day began early in Clark County, Nev. On Thursday, the county’s Department of Family Services held a celebration, and the local 8 News Now channel covered the story of Donald McCarthy and his wife with their new family. The couple adopted three children – siblings Damian, Chyanne and Jaden.
In the video, McCarthy, trying to hold back his tears, and said, “I would like to thank everyone at the Department of Family Services for making this come true. For the last two years it is like we have been engaged. Today this family got married."
National Adoption Month originally began as a weeklong recognition in Massachusetts in 1976, when the state’s then Governor Michael Dukakis announced an Adoption Week. The idea grew in popularity and spread nationwide. In 1984, President Reagan proclaimed the first National Adoption Week. And in 1995, under President Clinton, the week was expanded to the entire month of November.
Each year, the president of the United States makes a proclamation to announce that November is National Adoption Month.
Through the efforts of adoption advocates, policymakers, judges and lawyers, more than 35,000 children have been adopted from foster care on National Adoption Day since 2000.