- Faith & Family
Friday, Nov. 18th, found the halls of the Miami Children’s Museum filled with the typical sounds of excitement and laughter.
However, on this day, the sounds of merriment and joy were caused not by fun and games but by the approximate 45 adoptions being finalized. Hosted by the child welfare non-profit corporation, Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe County, Inc. the adoptions were just one of countless adoption ceremonies held in honor of the eighth annual National Adoption Day.
“It’s so exciting to see these superstars who are willing to take responsibilities for these kids,” said Florida’s Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins.
The National Adoption Day is held to raise awareness of children currently living in foster care across the country. In the United States, there are approximately 408,425 children in foster care and 107,000 waiting to be adopted.
“Every day more children come into the system,” said Frances Allegra, the president and CEO of Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe.
The heading reasons that children are placed in foster care are because their caretakers suffer from substance abuse, domestic violence and mental illness, according to Allegra.
“Until we solve those problems, we’re always going to need adoptions,” she explained.
Before the adoptions were finalized, a special ceremony was held where child welfare advocates, government officials and adoptive parents spoke about the importance of adoption.
One couple that had adopted three children the year before told the audience that the number one rule that adoptive parents should adhere to is “just love them.”
For many of the parents who adopted children, it was a sense of love and responsibility to their children that helped them decide to make the leap to become adoptive parents.
After caring for him since he was born, Roxanne Grant adopted her cousin, two-year-old Montrell on National Adoption Day.
“I wasn’t going to see him go to strangers,” she said of her decision. “It’s a good feeling to be able to help a child in need. It’s a blessing.”
The 38-year-old mother of two teenagers said that her toddler is already treated “like a little brother” by her other children.
The holiday also helped promote the many resources and support that public and private organizations can provide for adoptive parents such as monthly financial support, health care, and even free college tuition. In addition to such regular services, the Miami Children’s Museum also provided every family that adopted a child on Friday with a year-long membership.
“The adoption process has been so smooth,” said 60-year-old Connie Fusilier, who adopted her two grandchildren at the event. “I think that more people should realize that you get so much help from the state of Florida.”
Because her daughter is mentally-ill, Fusilier has cared for Angelika, 3, and her 16-month brother for years. She explained, “You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to have a good heart and a good home.”
By Kaila Heard