Fears about the spread of COVID-19 caused families around the world to shut their doors to strangers, literally and figuratively. But dozens of foster families and adoptive families with Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK) have opened their homes to children in foster care needing the consistency, care and love of a family.
As National Adoption Day on Nov. 21 draws near, nearly 100 AASK families this year have finalized the adoption of more than 150 children. AASK has facilitated nearly 5,000 adoptions of children in foster care since 1989.
National Adoption Day, a collective effort to raise awareness of the more than 125,000 children waiting to be adopted from foster care in the United States, is typically celebrated with a day-long event at the Durango Juvenile Courthouse in Phoenix where judges finalize more than 100 adoptions.
The court ceremony has a powerful impact, says Anna Tuttle, adopted by an AASK family more than 10 years ago when she was 9 years old.
“The day I was finalized,” Ms. Tuttle recalled, “that day it hit me: they’re my family; they’ll always be here for me; they actually love me.”
Many people take the notion of a forever family for granted, says AASK CEO Ron Adelson.
“A sense of permanency – knowing there are people who will always love you – is critical to a child’s development,” Mr. Adelson said.
Foster care isn’t intended to be permanent, but placing a child in safe and caring home environment while their biological parents learn the skills necessary for family reunification is also critical to a child’s development. And since late March, when pandemic-related lockdowns became common, AASK families have opened their homes and their hearts to more than 100 children in foster care.
“I always wanted to be a mom of many children – even if just for a short time,” said Stephanie, who took placement of an infant girl in mid-June.
Stephanie and husband Troy, already the biological parents of a set of twins, started the licensing process before COVID-19 disrupted daily life. They pressed on.
“I knew my heart and I knew we had to keep going,” Stephanie added.
Likewise, Shawna knew she had to keep going.
“My heart wants to help kids,” explained Shawna, who had one child reunified with her biological parents and had another placed in her home two days later.
“Like other first responders, foster families and adoptive families move toward the emergency rather than away from it, fully aware of the risks they are taking,” Mr. Adelson said. “They weigh their own personal health and safety concerns against a greater good – to provide the love and nurturing that children so desperately need.”
For more information on children eligible for adoption, call Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK) at 602-930-4900, or visit www.aask-az.org.
Editor's note: Mr. Williams was a family resource development specialist at
AASK - Aid to Adoption of Special Kids. AASK will be submitting articles regularly to the Daily Independent at YourValley.net in hopes to find children forever families.
We omitted the last names of the families providing foster care for the protection of the children in their placement.