Washington Courts: Press Release Detail
National Adoption Day comes to Washington courts as more than 1,000 foster children await families
November 03, 2005
For Immediate Release
From: Lorrie Thompson
A new campaign to raise awareness of foster children waiting to be adopted is taking over courts across Washington State, at least for a few hours, on Nov. 17 and 18. Sponsored by the Washington Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care, nearly a dozen courts will celebrate National Adoption Day by finalizing adoptions and hosting local events, in hopes of bringing information about foster adoptions and all adoptions to their communities.
“These are our children, Washington’s children, and they need permanent homes and permanent, loving families,” said Supreme Court Justice Bobbe Bridge, co-chair of the Commission on Children in Foster Care. “We encourage communities to get involved with National Adoption Day events, and for adults who have considered adoption to learn more about foster adoption.”
More than 9,500 Washington children are currently in foster care. More than 1,080 of those children are legally available for adoption after the courts terminated their parents’ rights, and are awaiting adoption or an adoptive family. Potential families have been identified for many of these children, but too many other children are waiting for parents and families to want them.
“There are many myths that surround foster children and the foster adoption process, and our goal is to shed light on these for any adults considering adoption,” said King County Superior Court Judge Dean Lum, chairman of the statewide National Adoption Day Steering Committee, who was himself an adopted child. “I have been involved in a number of foster adoptions, and each is a truly wonderful event, marking the beginning of a new family.”
Participating courts in Washington include superior courts in Chelan, Clallam, Clark, King, Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Whatcom and Yakima. This will be the first year celebrating National Adoption Day for nearly all the counties. King County joined the national celebration in 2001. The majority of courts will celebrate on Friday, Nov. 18, while Thurston County will celebrate on Nov. 17.
The Washington Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care was established in February to study and improve court processes for foster children, with a goal of reducing their time in foster care. The Commission encouraged Washington courts this year to celebrate National Adoption Day, after outreach to adoptive parents was identified as a key component in moving children more quickly from foster care. Also supporting National Adoption Day events is the Superior Court Judges’ Association, the Department of Social and Health Services, Northwest Adoption Exchange and the Washington State Bar Association.
National Adoption Day was founded in 2000 by a coalition of nationwide organizations and businesses dedicated to improving the lives of children — The Alliance for Children’s Rights, Casey Family Services, Children’s Action Network, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Freddie Mac Foundation and Target. The event in 2000 began with eight courts, and has grown to involve hundreds of communities across the country. In 2004, the Coalition commissioned the first-ever nationwide study on foster adoption. Conducted by the Urban Institute, the study found that more than 90 percent of states had difficulty recruiting adoptive parents for foster children, and that myths, misinformation and lack of awareness of foster adoptions were barriers to adoption (for a copy of the full study, which includes state-by-state barriers and promising practices, visit www.nationaladoptionday.org).
The study found that approximately 523,000 children are in foster care nationwide, and about 118,000 of those are waiting to be adopted. Each year, about 20,000 children “age out” of the foster system without ever having found a permanent family. The need for permanent homes is especially high among children of color and those with special needs.
Since 1987, the number of children in foster care has nearly doubled, and the average time a child remains in foster care nationally has lengthened to about three years. The good news in Washington is that the median length of stay in foster care has declined to less than two years — 540 days.
The National Adoption Day Coalition is now commissioning a study of families that do adopt, with a goal of supporting state-by-state recruitment efforts and improving the process of matching potential parents with waiting children.
CONTACT: Washington Supreme Court Justice Bobbe Bridge, (360) 357-2049; King County Superior Court Judge Dean Lum, Chairman of the state’s National Adoption Day Steering Committee, 206-296-9295; NAD Steering Committee members Paulette Caswell of Northwest Adoption Exchange, 800-927-9411 ext. 122; Gail Nunn of WSBA Family Law Section, (425) 258-6860; Deborah Reed of DSHS, (360) 902-7953.
For information on individual county celebrations, contact: Chelan — Sue Baker, Executive Director of the Chelan/Douglas CASA Program, 509-662-7350; Clallam — Superior Court Commissioner William Knebes, 360-417-2521; Clark — Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson, 360-397-2005; King — Superior Court Judge Dean Lum (see above); Kitsap — Superior Court Judge Theodore Spearman or Commissioner Thurman Lowans, (360) 337-7140; Pierce — Superior Court Judge Tom Larkin, 253-798-7576; Snohomish — Superior Court Administrator Dick Carlson, 425-388-3798; Spokane — Superior Court Commissioner Steve Grovdahl, 509-477-5702; Thurston — Superior Court Judge Christine Pomeroy, 360-709-3232; Whatcom — Superior Court Judge Charles Snyder, 360-738-2457; Yakima — Superior Court Commissioner Robert Inouye, 509-574-2710.
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