ORANGE COUNTY, CA What makes a family? Is it nature, nurture or something in between?
The Orange County Board of Supervisors this week proclaimed November as Adoption Awareness Month and presented a resolution to the County of Orange Social Services Agency to recognize the agency's significant contributions in support of and mentoring foster youth and adoptive families in Orange County.
National Adoption Awareness Month has been celebrated every November for more than 25 years, since President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed National Adoption Week in 1984.
President Bill Clinton expanded the week to an entire month in 1995. This year's National Adoption Month theme is "Every Conversation Matters" and encourages everyone to talk about adoption and adoption-related matters.
There are many ways that families come together through adoption, and all of them are as heart-wrenching as they are beautiful. As an adoptive mother, I can tell you that adoption is not one-size-fits-all.
If every conversation matters, here is a glimpse at how my family came to be through open adoption.
After years of infertility, my husband and I decided to pursue parenthood through adoption. We filled out forms, created a portfolio of our lives, shared the desires of our hearts and joined thousands of hopeful parents-in-waiting.
I will never forget the call when we learned we had been chosen to be Rachel's parents. Just 17 months later, we got the call we were chosen, again, for Elizabeth.
In the foster system, there are more children in need of parents to call their own.
On Thursday, the Orange County Social Services Agency recognized adoptive parents Laura and Martin on behalf of Orange County families who provide "forever" homes to children in need of permanency. The agency didn't provide last names to protect the parents' privacy.
Chairman Andrew Do, a supervisor for the 1st District, spoke on the proclamation.
"Every child deserves a loving family environment that provides a sense of belonging and security," Do said. "Parents like Laura and Martin who grow their families through adoption provide the love and support critical to the healthy development and success of our children."
In the fiscal year July 2020 to June 2021, Orange County courts finalized 336 adoptions, an increase of 24 percent over the number in the previous fiscal year.
"This month, we recognize all foster and adoptive families for their selfless efforts on behalf of Orange County's children," said Vice Chairman Doug Chaffee, 4th District supervisor. "The impressive increase in the number of adoptions at a time when many are struggling demonstrates how dedicated our community is to providing loving homes."
Overall, the primary goal of the Social Services Agency is to reunify children with their parents, but there are times when that is not possible, the agency said.
"Every single child matters and adoption is an intentional process that brings the joy, safety, and commitment of a family to so many," 2nd District Supervisor Katrina Foley said. "Adoption is all around us, and I am grateful to recognize Adoption Awareness Month and the many incredible families in our communities."
The agency prioritizes conversations with youth in foster care to engage them in the process of finding the right adoptive family.
"November is a month for gratitude, and I would like to extend my gratitude to those people who open their hearts and homes to our children in foster care," said Supervisor Donald P. Wagner of the 3rd District. "Their compassion provides the path toward a stable adult life. Again, I thank you for your selfless work."
Each year, the Children's Bureau, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, focuses on outreach and raising awareness of the need for adoptive families for teens in the United States.
Currently, more than 122,000 children and youth across the nation awaiting adoption are at risk of aging out of foster care without permanent family connections.
"National Adoption Month is a fantastic opportunity to shine a spotlight on adoption and reaffirm our commitment to give every child, especially teenagers waiting to be adopted, the chance to become part of a family," said 5th District Supervisor Lisa Bartlett. "It is a time to pay tribute to those in our community who have opened their hearts and homes to adopted children, thereby establishing permanent family connections in a loving and supportive environment."
The story of their adoption has never been a mystery to my children. Photos of their formal adoption days grace our family portrait wall, and it is a regular part of our conversation.
My daughters came to us as infants; both teenagers now. They are making the grade in high school and soon will head to college. Their adoptions were considered open, but their birth families have moved on to the next chapters of their lives. The four of us are forever grateful to the birth families who made a love decision that changed the course of our family forever.
Forming a permanent family is the main goal for prospective adoptive parents, whether they seek adoption after the pain and process of unsuccessful infertility as was our story or adopt through the lengthy foster system process.
And in every adoptive home, there is a unique story, but one with a common thread.
Love is all that matters.
For more information on becoming a resource family, call 888-871-KIDS (888-871-5437) or visit http://www.oc4kids.com.
Keep the conversation going. Tell us about your adoption story by emailing your Patch Editor.
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