National Adoption Day: How many foster children will find new families this year?
November 14, 2006
National Adoption Day:How many foster children will find new families in second year of statewide event?
Courts in 14 Washington counties will celebrate National Adoption Day during the third week in November, more than double the number of courts that held celebrations in 2005. The celebrations are scheduled Nov. 16-18, and are open to the public and media.
During the first statewide celebration of National Adoption Day last year, more than 50 foster children were adopted into new homes in six counties — Spokane, King, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston and Chelan. Washington judges and adoption workers are striving to increase the number of children adopted during celebrations and the number of courts and communities participating in the events.
The goal of National Adoption Day celebrations in Washington and around the U.S. is to spread the word to potential adoptive parents that hundreds of foster children in Washington and thousands of foster children nationwide are available for adoption and waiting for new families.
“Studies show that interest in adoption is increasing, but fewer people are taking steps to make it happen than did so 10 years ago,” said WashingtonSupreme Court JusticeBobbeBridge, co-chair of the Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care, which is sponsoring the statewide celebration. “Those potential adoptive parents need information and encouragement, and these children need the stable and loving environment of permanent families.”
Courts participating in Washington’s 2006 National Adoption Day events include those in Benton/Franklin counties, Chelan, Clark, Cowlitz, Island, King, Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Whatcom and Yakima counties. (See below for dates and times)
More than 9,700 Washington children live in foster homes or relative placement homes, and nearly 2,000 of those are available to be adopted, meaning the courts have terminated the parental rights of their biological parents. Adoption workers have identified permanent families for many of these children, but hundreds are still waiting to find new parents.
In 2005, the Washington Supreme Court issued a rare proclamation honoring Adoption Day in Washington during the third week in November and commending courts and communities for celebrating the event, and supporting the adoption of foster children into new homes.
National Adoption Day was founded in 2000 by a coalition of nationwide organizations and businesses dedicated to improving the lives of children by finding them homes and reducing the time they spend in foster care. In Washington, the median length of stay in foster care has declined to less than two years — 540 days — but nationwide it has risen to more than three years.
Each year nationwide, about 20,000 foster children “age out” of the system without ever having found permanent families.
“It’s hard to describe the reaction of the children and parents during adoption hearings, when they finally become a permanent family,” said King County Superior Court Judge Dean Lum, chairman of Washington’s National Adoption Day Steering Committee. “Every child should be able to have that feeling.”
The Washington Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care was established in 2005 to study and improve court processes for foster children, with a goal of reducing their time in foster care. The Commission this year joined in the “National Call to Action” to reform foster care by working through the courts, and co-sponsored Washington’s first Foster Youth Summit in October.
Also supporting National Adoption Day events is the state Superior Court Judges’ Association, the Department of Social and Health Services and Northwest Adoption Exchange.
CONTACT:WashingtonSupreme Court JusticeBobbeBridge, (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; Pam Kramer, Adoption Program Manager for DSHS Children’s Administration, (360) 902-7968; Lonnie Locke, Adoption Support Manager for DSHS Children’s Administration, (360) 902-7932; Regina McDougall, Administrative Office of the Courts, (360) 705-5337; Lorrie Thompson, AOC, (360) 705-5347.