Most of us don’t choose our families.
During National Adoption Month in November, we make a special effort to honor those families who do choose to give the gift of a permanent family to teens, children and infants who desperately need someone in their corner.
By the end of this year in Hennepin County, we expect that at least 124 infants, children, and teenagers will begin their new lives with 89 families who have made a commitment to support them for a lifetime. Hennepin County Juvenile Court will finalize their adoptions and they will become permanent forever families. These children will gain new siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunties, uncles, friends and neighbors as well!
Whatever time of year a family commits to a child by adoption, they are continuing the process of healing from the kind of life experiences no child should ever endure. These children will also enjoy unconditional love and the support of parents and family members who attend their school plays, band concerts, athletic events and more. They will be able to look into the audience and see a familiar face smiling back at them, and affirming that nothing is more important to that adult than they are at that moment.
We often have 18-year-olds tell us they still want to be adopted. That is a good reminder that you’re never too old to crave and deserve a network of supportive, loving people who have your back for the long haul.
It’s hard to overstate the impact that the gift of adoption can have on a child, and on parents. It can take months or even years, adoptive parents tell us, but the moments they see that they are making a difference are priceless. It may come in the form of an unexpected hug, an art project from school that demonstrates their love, or even the words, “I love you.”
A family does not need to be perfect to adopt. A successful adoptive family has very little to do with income, cars, or a fancy home but instead has everything to do with consistency, commitment, and unconditional, lifelong love. The family must respect, support, value and celebrate the culture and diversity of the child. With our partners in the private sector, we work hard to find the right fit, the right family to foster and sometimes adopt our children.
Adoption isn’t for every family, and that is OK. However, for those families who choose adoption, it is important to know that your commitment, love and support benefits the child, your family, your community and society. On behalf of all previous, current and future adoptive children, I thank you.
Janine Moore is Area Director of Hennepin County Child and Family Services.
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