By Rita L. Soronen, President & CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
Having a safe place to call home means everything — especially during the COVID-19 crisis. But every day, too many youth age out of foster care without ever knowing the security and stability of a forever family. With nowhere and no one to turn to for support, many of these young people will end up homeless.
That’s why the work of judges, adoption professionals, nonprofit organizations and others to keep adoptions moving virtually during the pandemic is so important. Their collaborative efforts are making a life-changing impact for children, like Michael, Roman and Lilliana from Washington.
The siblings spent four years in foster care because of abuse and neglect. They often lived in separate homes but longed to be together.
Fortunately, Michael, Roman and Lilliana were adopted in June 2020, through the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program. The adoption was finalized via a Zoom video call with friends and family watching from across the country.
In Florida, Daisy’s dream of a forever family also came true this summer, when she became the state’s 100th virtual adoption. The 22-year-old was placed in foster care as an infant and spent the first two decades of her life without a permanent place to call home. Now, she has a bright future ahead.
“Before I was adopted, I felt like I wasn’t enough. I had this hole in my heart, and I never really knew why. I never knew what I needed to patch that hole until my mom asked to adopt me,” Daisy shares. “There is no hole in my heart anymore.”
These inspiring stories and many others across the nation bring us hope.
November 21 is National Adoption Day. Normally, courtrooms across the United States would be packed to finalize the adoptions of children from foster care. To date, more than 75,000 children have been adopted during this special annual event. And for some youth, it is often the first celebration they’ve experienced in their honor.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this year’s National Adoption Day will look different — with most adoptions taking place virtually or in some cases, small group gatherings that adhere to local health guidelines. But the celebration of new families coming together through adoption is no less important…in fact, it’s more important than ever.
Right now, more than 120,000 children are waiting to be adopted from foster care. In these challenging times, it’s up to all of us to band together to change the journey for these youth before it’s too late. From mentoring to fostering and adoption to spreading the word on social media, no act is too small to make a difference.