President Donald Trump issued a proclamation Oct. 30 recognizing November as National Adoption Month and reiterating his administration’s commitment to the sanctity of human life.
“Adoption … offers a loving option for women who experience unexpected pregnancies or are unable to provide for their children,” the proclamation reads. “Every year, countless families—including many who cannot have children of their own—cherish the priceless gift of an adopted child. My administration believes that every human life has inherent value, and encourages adoption as an alternative to abortion. All children, born and unborn, deserve a chance to have a better, more prosperous future. I commend the selfless men and women who preserve the majesty of God’s creation by providing children with a chance at a better life.”
The president briefly outlined his administration’s efforts to combat child abuse and neglect, and to come alongside families hurt by drug addiction.
“These efforts include unprecedented action to end the opioid crisis in our country, increased funding and oversight of the foster care system, and opening more adoption channels to faith-based adoption and foster care providers,” he said. “Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services is now providing states with guidance regarding the use of federal funds to support the legal representation of parents and children in family legal proceedings. The good news is that the number of children entering foster care is declining and the number of adoptions last year was the highest on record.”
This year’s theme for adoption month is “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn,” and highlights the need for families and permanent connections for teens, who are less likely to be adopted and more likely to age out of the foster care system without strong or stable family support.
According to the Children’s Bureau, an office of the Administration for Children & Families, more than 120,000 children were waiting to be adopted from foster care in 2019. More than 25,000 of those waiting were between the ages of 13 and 17.
“You never outgrow the need for a family,” says AdoptUSKids, a national project that supports child welfare systems and connects children in foster care with families. “Everyone needs a sense of belonging.
“Through adoption, older children are connected to a family that can provide a sense of stability, lasting connections and guidance with important life tasks—including enrolling in higher education, finding stable housing, securing employment and establishing healthy relationships.”
Aria Williams is just one example.
When she was just 8 years old, she was placed in foster care. She never quite felt comfortable in her foster homes and longed to have a permanent family like many of her friends.
As she entered her teenage years, Williams began to build up walls within herself and push people away.
“My teenage years were filled with a lot of anger, attitude and sass,” she said. “I could never figure out how to deal with my emotions because I had a hard time trusting people.”
But when she was 16, she met her adoptive family through church.
Now a freshman in college, Williams says her parents are her biggest fans. “Being loved by my parents has taught me how to love. It has also given me a support system.”
When asked what she would tell people thinking of adopting a teenager, she said:
“Everyone needs the support and love of a permanent family; it is the most basic unit of society. Teens in foster care are strong, resilient and smart, and, given the chance, they can overcome their past and influence the world for better.”
Above: Shannon Hawkins, center, poses for a photo with her adoptive parents Mike and Susan at their home in Deming, New Mexico.
Photo: Andres Leighton/Albuquerque Journal/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News