Monroe County Family Court, now in its 54th year, has finalized more than 14,000 adoptions.
Over the last 13 years, the court’s celebration of National Adoption Day has endeavored to raise our community’s awareness surrounding adoption. While adoption numbers nationwide have remained consistent since the late 1980s, there has been a shift, particularly in New York, increasing the number of children adopted from foster care.
Children in foster care have lost what most of us take for granted — a connection to loving and nurturing parents. The chaos created by substance abuse, unaddressed mental illness and/or physical violence have left these children without safe, permanent homes.
Our celebration allows our community to hear from the children themselves and their adoptive parents about their journey. These children sadly voice common experiences of loss and/or trauma, yet an older child’s decision to be adopted is always courageous and surprisingly difficult. Children are often torn between a perplexing desire to both rescue and remain connected to their biological parents and the love for their potential adoptive family.
By acts of unconditional love, and sometimes outside services, parents who adopt children surmount behavioral and emotional challenges arising from at-risk beginnings. Adoptive parents often are awed by the sheer resilience of their adopted child.
Foster care adoption expands rather than diminishes our concept of family. Adopted children gain new brothers and/or sisters while staying connected to biological ones, often bridging two families. And the shape of families who will adopt before the end of 2017 is as limitless as our imagination. Experts agree there are a growing number of nontraditional families, such as older couples and single parents now adopting. Loving relatives also step forward to adopt when children are in foster care, filling the gaps in care left by biological parents.
By definition, to foster means “to bring up, raise or rear,” but to adopt means “to choose or take as one’s own child.” Foster connotes something temporary, but to adopt connotes something permanent. To adopt a child is to take him from the uncertainty of not knowing where or in what conditions he will live tomorrow, to a place in a forever family. That love covers it all.
A child’s age is not an impediment to adoption; we have finalized the adoptions of children on the eve of their 21st birthday to mere newborns. The formal court adoption proceeding bears great significance for a child marking the start of his forever family. National Adoption Day celebrates the finalization of adoptions of any age — Monroe County Family Court, Room 303, Hall of Justice on Nov. 17 at 10 a.m. All are welcome.