Today, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius kicked-off a weekend of National Adoption Day events across the country. In celebration of National Adoption Month and National Adoption Day, Secretary Sebelius delivered remarks lifting up the importance of adoption, and presided over an adoption ceremony (as she did last year).
There were two wonderful families formed today during the adoption ceremony. First, Magistrate Judge Kimberly Knowles adopted Cameron, a typically active 2-year old who she has cared for as a foster parent since he was 3 1/2 months old. Also, Ms. Joi Morris officially became the mother to Thomas, after her son Dawson asked his mother to adopt his long-time friend and classmate. We had the opportunity to meet both Thomas and Dawson, and we can say with absolutely certainty that Ms. Morris is going to be one very proud mother as her two sons are exceptional young men.
In her remarks, Secretary Sebelius spoke about the power of adoption in the lives of these two families, and in the lives of millions of families across the United States:
“We’re here to recognize the powerful generosity and compassion at the heart of these adoptions. These two families serve as wonderful testaments to the belief we all share: that every child, no matter what their age, deserves and needs a family, and there is a family that deserves and needs that child.”
National Adoption Month offers an opportunity for dialogue and action in support of adoption. Eleven years ago, some adoption and child advocacy organizations came together to set aside one day during National Adoption Month to focus on foster care adoptions. The National Adoption Day Coalition works with law firms, state foster care agencies, child advocates and courts to complete hundreds of adoptions across the country. This year, they have at least one event in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Over the past 11 years, more than 30,000 children have been adopted from foster care on National Adoption Day.
Still, there are currently over 114,000 children in the foster care system legally free to be adopted—they’re just waiting for a family. We know that children that have the security of a loving family are more likely to stay out of trouble and reach their full potential. That is why The White House and the Department of Health and Human Services work to promote and implement policies that support adoptive families, encourage increased adoptions in the states, and give voice to the millions of Americans impacted by adoption. The improvements to the Adoption Tax Credit under the Affordable Care Act, the Adoption Incentives Program, our continued support of AdoptUSKids, the Adoption Opportunities Program and the Initiative to Reduce Long-term Foster Care are just a few examples of Administration support for adoption and our children in foster care.
The White House and the Department of Health and Human Services are excited to celebrate another National Adoption Month, and look forward to another year of progress for children and families.
Alexia Kelley is the Director of the HHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Michael Wear serves as Executive Assistant to the Executive Director of The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.