Senator John ThuneWe recognize heroes in all shapes and sizes from all walks of life, but there are also heroes who garner less attention than others. Some heroes who too often get overlooked are those families who open their hearts and homes to children through adoption.
November is National Adoption Month, and specifically, November 15th is National Adoption Day. I am proud to have joined a bipartisan group of my Senate colleagues in introducing a resolution supporting the goals and ideals of National Adoption Month and encouraging families to take a closer look at adoption.
There are approximately 510,000 children in the foster care system in the United States today, of which approximately 129,000 are waiting for families to adopt them. Annually, 26,000 young adults "age out" of the foster care system without ever experiencing a loving family.
There is positive news, however. Since the creation of National Adoption Day in 2000, more than 20,000 children have found permanent homes as a result of the movement. In 2007 alone, 4,200 children were adopted on National Adoption Day, with adoptions occurring in all 50 states.
One of the biggest deterrents of families considering adoption is misinformation. Studies show that a significant number of people believe children end up in foster care because of juvenile delinquency, which is far from the case. Most foster care children have been neglected, abandoned, or abused, which only further highlights the need for loving, supportive families to choose adoption.
Similarly, some families shy away from foster care adoption because of the perceived high cost. In reality, there are many forms of assistance and incentives available to families who welcome a foster care child into their home.
In September, I joined with colleagues on both sides of the aisle in urging the leadership in the House of Representatives and the Senate to reauthorize the Adoption Incentives Program, which assists families who adopt children out of the foster care system. I am pleased to announce that the program was reauthorized and signed into law by the President through 2013.
Whether adopting a young baby or an older child who has spent time in foster care, adoption makes heroes out of families every day. National Adoption Day not only celebrates those families who choose to adopt, but also it seeks to inspire others to get involved. Every child deserves a loving home, and adoption is a way to help make it happen.