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National Adoption Day is slated for Nov. 23. The event was created in 2000 as a way to raise awareness of children in foster care waiting to be adopted.

Sponsor organizations work with foster care agencies, child advocates, law firms and courts to coordinate Adoption Day activities (dates vary throughout November by community). These events focus on finalizing adoptions and celebrating adoption anniversaries.

Since the celebration started, nearly 60,000 children have been moved from foster care to “forever families,” according to Dave Thomas Foundation.

The most recent data from Kids Count Data Center, there are roughly 450,000 children in foster care in the United States. In Iowa, nearly 10,000 children are currently in foster care.

In addition, Families Helping Families of Iowa estimates that more than 16,000 Iowa grandparents have primary responsibility of caring for their grandchildren.

A dear friend has had custody of her grandchildren for the past few years. After a series of tragedies and a long legal battle, she will adopt them during a National Adoption Day event this month.

When my friend talks about her grandkids, I marvel at her energy. At a time when she should be able to work less and relax more, she burns with the passion to provide her grandchildren with a stable, loving home.

As she shared her news a few weeks ago, I thought of a special young couple who adopted their boys on National Adoption Day a few years ago. The mother had been my daughter’s beloved babysitter. She and her husband later fostered the boys they’d later adopt.

Other friends have adopted children from foster care, too — some on National Adoption Day. Such events shine a light on opportunities to demystify — and destigmatize — the foster care process and raise awareness of the many children in need of homes.

There will be many such events across Iowa this month. The ceremonies are a real celebration of hope. Adoptive parents hope to open their lives to the child. Children hope to be embraced by their forever families.

National Adoption Day celebrates bravery, too. After a period of uncertainty, perhaps all involved continue to wonder: Will I be welcomed? Will I be loved and respected? Will I be understood? Will this truly be for keeps?

There is a shortage of foster families in the Cedar Valley and across the state, according to Four Oaks Family Connections and advocacy groups. In 2018, Four Oaks was able to find homes for less than half of its statewide referrals.

Children of all ages need homes, and it’s best to keep children together. Learn more on the Four Oaks website, IowaFosterandAdoption.org; by calling the Northern Iowa Area, (844) 380-2484; or by emailing familyconnections-nsa@fouroaks.org.

If you’re not in a position to foster, there are other ways to get involved. Consider the varied agencies that touch the process — everything from churches and law enforcement to hospitals and schools. Ask a pastor, teacher or health care provider for ways you might help.

Karris Golden writes The Courier’s weekly faith and values column. Email her at onfaith@karrisgolden.com.

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